Thursday, 24 December 2009

Sam Hewitt: Three years in and counting

Sam Hewitt made his debut for Burridge at Titchfield Rec in a 3-0 defeat to AFC Solent on 17th March 2007. The youngest of four brothers, he lives in West End and makes his living cutting the greens at East Horton Golf Club.

Pictured above: Sam Hewitt has a go at the splits.

The Norman Rodaway, Hedge-End 5:30pm to 6pm, Wednesday 30th March 2007

Sam Hewitt was still very much 17 when Burridge visited the Rodaway to play Hedge-End on the last Wednesday of March. When he arrived shortly after 5:30pm the opposition were already out on the pitch, dressed in matching tracksuits and performing a synchronised warm up. He recognised some of their faces from school. Two or three years older and jumping the dinner queue, thinking they were it. Sam walked past them toward the away team dressing room, hoping it was full of the reassuring sounds of Justin Newman making fun of Greg Baker or Paul Dyke going to great lengths to recreate last night's episode of Peep Show. Once he'd closed the door behind him all he could hear was a shower head leaking drops of water onto the tiled floor. Nobody else had arrived. Junctions seven and eight of the M27 had seen to that.

The five minutes spent sat waiting for company passed slowly. When players did start arriving they began fighting off their trousers and moaning about traffic. Sam stands at 5 foot 10 with a head of shaved mousey hair. Other than his black cleated Nike football boots he was dressed head to toe in Burridge's changed red Adidas kit. With the time was fast approaching six o'clock the referee came into the dressing room with a sharpened pencil tucked into his pulled up black sock.

“Time to get going, gentleman” he said, pointing to the face of his digital watch. Sam's elder brother Kristian stopped Sam following the referee out of the door.
“Whatya doing?” He asked Sam. “We can't start with eight men, they'll tear us to pieces.”
“But, the referee said.....”
“Never mind him,” snapped Kristian. “Did you see their eyes?” Sam clearly hadn't paid as much attention to Hedge End's players as his brother. “Pupils like bowling balls. All of them,” continued Kristian before looking away muttering. “They've been juicing. One dart in the rump is all it takes, that way there's no jack tracking.”

Two more Burridge players arrived and began tearing off their clothes. After silently mouthing out the number of players in the room, Pete Lyons bent down and picked up a red shirt from the pile of kit on the floor. He was 51 and nobody had any spare shin-pads. He'd have to anchor the midfield.


Burridge memories haven't always been so lucid for Sam. Nobody enjoys dialling for an ambulance. It brings with it a certain degree of responsibility. Is the person you're ringing on behalf of genuinely injured, or are they just hoping to while away an afternoon laid in the back of an ambulance, laughing at their hands with an oxygen mask strapped to their face? Sometimes it's hard to tell, but blood helps.

The sound that followed Sam Hewitt's collision with the goal post on a bright April afternoon against Team Solent, was the gratifying snap that comes after the jagged metal teeth of a nut cracker are squeezed together to cave in the stubborn shell of a walnut. The referee stopped play and Sam was laid out flat behind the goal by his team mates. The grass beneath him quickly drank back the colour from his skin. Burridge players gathered around him and bowed their heads as a mark of respect.

A Team Solent midfielder, who was packing a little extra weight beneath the sponsor of his red polyester shirt, began complaining about what he considered an unnecessary stoppage in play. He may as well have cut a prolonged yawn loose at a funeral. Sam's brothers, Kristian and Jamie, turned their heads in disgust from their front row pew. Their contempt was disturbed by the arrival of the ambulance that made its way to Sam slowly over the grass.

Laid out on the ground with his closely cropped hair, Sam had the look of an Action Man that had long since been abandoned for Donkey Kong. A face blocked his view of the clear blue sky. It belonged to the ambulance driver.

“Now hold steady there, son,” he said as he knelt down and rolled down Sam's sock, loosened his shin pad and ran his latex gloved hand up and down Sam's left shin bone. “How does that feel?” Asked the ambulance driver.

It felt pretty much how Sam imagined a stranger stroking his leg in a public place in front of his brothers would feel – pretty weird. Satisfied that there was no break, just heavy bruising, Sam's dad ferried him away in the back seats of his Ford Focus.


The Norman Rodaway, Hedge-End 6:17pm to 7:45pm Wednesday 30th March 2007

Fifteen minutes into the first half, Pete Lyons, stood hunched over in the centre circle with his hands resting on his hips. He caught a glimpse of Luke Sanderson closing the driver's door of his red Peugeot 306 behind him and making his way quickly towards the pitch.

“Giggsy,” he shouted. “Two minutes, get kitted up.”

Luke headed for the changing room as further residents from nearby Cranborne Park and Hobb Lane switched off their television sets and left their lounges behind to walk over to the Rodaway, where from a standing position behind a roped off touchline they watched Hedge-End transform promising scoring opportunities into goal kicks for Burridge goalkeeper Sam Schwodler to punt into the darkening sky.

Jamie Hewitt's mouth was open in concentration. The ball was at his feet 30 yards from goal and he looked like he wanted rid of it. Sam hoped to receive it, having spent most of the game waiting patiently for a pass, but as usual his brother had other ideas. They seemed no more complex than kicking it as far away as possible, which he did. Why isn't the selfish bastard giving it to me, thought Sam. The ball travelled towards Hedge-End's goalkeeper. He watched it until the white stringed net behind him brought to a stop. Once that'd registered with Jamie, he ran with his right arm held above his head. Sam chased after him and got a handful of his red collar before they were both covered beneath a landslide of red shirts.

Final score: Hedge-End 0-1 Burridge.

Burridge formation: 3-5-2: Sam Schwodler, Mark Sanderson, Paul Dyke, Jay Schwodler, Pete Lyons (Luke Sanderson), Steve Froud, Justin Newman, Greg Baker, Kristian Hewitt (Paul Andrews), Sam Hewitt, Jamie Hewitt

Injured unused sub: Ben Rowe
Unavailable through suspension: Bryn Schwodler
Booked: Mark Sanderson, Greg Baker, Jamie Hewitt.


Burridge's final training session of 2009

9:15pm Wednesday 23rd December 2009 at Wildern School

Picture taken by Sam Hewitt, back row, left to right: Ben Rowe, Jay Schwodler, Kristian Hewitt, Rich Allan,. Front Row, left to right: Greg Baker, Mark Sanderson, Bryn Schwodler

Next week: Goal of 2009 is revealed.

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