Reflecting on Burridge's pre season training so far.....
Not all Burridge players enjoy running. Paul Andrews certainly doesn't. A three mile run could put his back out for weeks, but so could a walk down the shops. He along with over half the twenty man squad are over 30 years old, so when this year's pre-season training concentrated on short sprints, instead of long runs along Netley's stony beach, there was a collective sigh of relief. With a month of training now under their belts, Burridge have 8 pre-season games in 24 days, before the start of the Drew Smith Southampton League season.
As always, optimism at the club is rife. What it's actually based on isn't entirely clear. Finishing one place above the relegation zone last season was in stark contrast to the runners-up spot the sport's pages of the Southern Daily Echo had predicted. Players at the club have never been shy in sharing their personal expectations for the season ahead. Anyone banking on them ever coming to pass runs the risk of dying disappointed.
When Bryn Schwodler, returning to the club two years ago after a spell at Romsey Town, said he was going to take the Southampton League by storm, it was assumed that he meant by some energetic displays on the wing, and perhaps a handful of goals, rather than an 84 day suspension from the Hampshire FA , for reacting to his sending off against BTC by throwing a chewed wad of Wrigley's gum in the direction of the referee's goatee beard.
Exactly how fit the squad is remains to be seen. While improvements in fitness have been made, in well attended training sessions, some players have been totally spent of their energies when it gets to the six inch leg lifts. This exercise involves lying flat on your back and lifting both legs together six inches into the air for various intervals of time. Those who've been able to do this exercise have withstood it for longer periods of time as the weeks have gone on, with some now able to keep up with manager Pete Lyons. He is 53 years old.
Press-ups force upon each player an unwelcome insight into the most personal aspect of their colleague's private lives. Players are lined up closely together, lifting themselves off the low wooden fenced perimeter of Netley country park. Arms shake as they push themselves up straight, while contorted facial expressions give way to barely contained grunts of toil on each unsteady thrust. Many player's partners have recently given birth, or are due to. Faced with this grisly display of press-ups, one is left to assume that conceiving a child is far more straight forward than some people would have you believe.
Training is always finished with a match. Any of the dog walkers unfortunate enough to witness one of these games would have legitimate reason to believe that an adult game of statues was taking place, such is the amount of time the ball is lost in thick thorn branches. The league's decision to make the senior division larger means more games. Taking into account the upcoming friendlies and cup games, Burridge could play up to forty matches in 2009/10. Any players wanting to be in contention to play in a significant number of these games will need to remain fit. A spot of running could well do the trick.