(Pic by Roz H)
When the rain falls in Burridge on a Friday night players know there's no harm in getting an eighth pint in. Rainwater covers the pitch in puddles that a responsible adult wouldn't leave small children or Shaun Wright-Phillips to play in unsupervised. During Wednesday night's training session at Wildern school's outdoor pitch, Pete Lyons, briefed the team.
“We're playing at home on Saturday lads,” said Pete, as the squad began limbering up to do some stretching exercises.
“So we're not playing then,” replied Justin Newman, having seen this week's weather forecast and remembering that a single downpour pretty much ended a training session there a few years ago. That was in August.
The pitch is only a few hundred yards away from a wide stretch of the River Hamble. Living and growing up so near to the coast, one often feels the calling to a life at sea, much like I once did. A friend and I left our worldly possessions behind, and with only what we had in our pockets: a packet of cigarettes, some lose change and a box of matches, we left for the water. Two hours later and we were back on dry land when the coastguard towed our pedalo ashore on his air boat, after strong tides and cramp prevented us from travelling further upstream to our destination of the Jolly Sailor in Lowford.
If Burridge want to play a home game between the months of November and January then their pitch needs to be irrigated, but that's expensive business. The club would need a grant. Burridge have already had a grant, or at least the kid's team have. Their application for drainage to their playing field was approved by the Football Foundation, who donated the club £20k to get to work on their pitch. Although we share the same name the two clubs have no affiliation and as of August this year their youth side have become a feeder club for Sporting Bishops Waltham.
Wednesday night's training session finished with an eight-a-side match with the twist being that players were allowed no more than two consecutive touches of the ball. This exercise was designed to improve ball control and awareness. Once the game got under way several things quickly became clear; firstly, both teams demonstrated a level of consistency that has seldom been witnessed under Pete Lyons' tenure, and secondly, the ball spent a significant amount of time on the wrong side of the twenty foot high mesh perimeter fence. Burridge centre forward, Ben Rowe, was one of the first to pick up on this. “You've got more time on the ball than you think,” he shouted to his team-mates, suggesting they relax a little which would enable them to be more composed next time they were in possession. His next contribution was to lose the ball in the branches of a reasonably nearby oak tree.
This week's Burridge feature in the Times is on Paul Dyke, which you can read by clicking here.
If rain falls on Burridge between Friday night and Saturday morning expect another game to be postponed.