Saturday, 22 May 2010

Burridge 4-4 Durley

Meadowside, Whiteley, Sat 8 May - Ryan Jones watched Burridge's first half struggle from the sideline with his left hand hanging in a sling and an umbrella held in his right to protect him from the drizzle of an overcast May afternoon. By the time Burridge kicked off the second period they were looking down the barrel of a two-nil deficit and Ryan Jones had long swapped his umbrella for a bottle of lager that he had taken from the crate Ben Rowe had bought from Tesco at half-time. If Burridge were going to lose they thought they might as well get drunk.

Pictured above: Burridge centre forward Paul Andrews goes in where it hurts.

Durley prised open Burridge's defence to increase their lead and three-nil soon became four when a sliced right-wing cross floated above Kristian Hewitt's grasp into the net. This wasn't how Pete Lyons wanted to end his four years as manager of Burridge. He'd confirmed that this was going to be his last season the previous Saturday afternoon at the bar in the Bugle, and although successive defeats to Redbridge had killed dead any chance of finishing in second place, he wanted to go out on a high, not like this. Ryan Jones, Ben Rowe, Luke Sanderson, and Kev Willsher were in a hurry to get drunk on the sidelines with Lee Fielder, who had joined them after his hamstring gave way thirteen minutes into the match. Pete looked at them and wished they'd bought something stronger for him to drink, like cyanide.

Pictured above: Sam Schwodler bangs in goal number three.

The indignity of being chipped for Durley's fourth goal from such an innocuous position got under Kristian Hewitt's skin. He unfastened the velcro strapping of his goalkeeping gloves and threw them to the floor in disgust. Four goals had whizzed past him in the time it takes to drive to Bognor Regis, and he'd had enough. Ben Hutton agreed to swap from his position of centre half with Hewitt. At this moment finding even the smallest shred of evidence of a possible Burridge come back was a job for forensic scientists. This way of thinking wasn't changed when Sam Schwodler rose to head the ball past Durley's goalkeeper. Sam limited his celebrations of what was a fine goal to a high five with Justin Newman. Durley's goalkeeper was slightly more animated, losing all perspective on the score. He barked at his defenders like a rabid dog, cutting the figure of a US marine from World War Two buried deep in his foxhole on some tiny pacific atoll, sharpening his blade and cleaning his rifle and muttering to himself about shooting himself some Japs, oblivious to the fact that the war had ended two years ago.

Pictured above: Ben Hutton gets to grips with being a goalkeeper.

Ben Rowe was leading the sideline orchestra. Even the slightest movement forward by a Burridge player was met with loud and enthusiastic approval. They stood with their feet on the painted white sidelines, whooping it up and pumping their fists, their eyes filled with a wild lust for an equalising goal and erupting about a minor Durley indiscretion outside the penalty area. Burridge were awarded a free kick. Left-back Marc Judd placed the ball twenty five yards away from the target, had a long look at the goal and curled the ball over the wall into the top right hand corner. Judd began running but he did not get far before his vision was blocked by the grey inner lining of Ben Rowe's macintosh, who along with everybody else piled on top of Judd in a human tower block.

Pictured above: Marc Judd puts his trust into his left foot

Sam Schwodler was hypnotised by the occasion. He ran through on goal for his sixteenth of the season like living reincarnation of Stanley Matthews. His delicate chip went narrowly over the crossbar. Burridge's 34 minute comeback had unfolded in front of Ben Hutton's eyes in the position of goalkeeper. He was drunk on goals and excitement. When Burridge were awarded a corner kick with minutes of the game remaining he fled his own penalty area for Durley's. Durley players looked amongst themselves to find out whose grim task it was to mark the opponent's goalkeeper. It's a job nobody wants, like having to pick a fight with Dr Steven Hawking, there's very little to gain and everything to lose. Durley couldn't appoint anybody to the task, Hutton attacked the ball with his meaty shaven head, skimming it on top of Durley's crossbar. There was no time for anything else, the game was over. Two Durley players stood outside the dressing room, one losened the grip of mud around the studs of his boots by banging them against the yellow bricked wall of Meadowside leisure centre, the other lit a Marlborough light, shook his head, smiled and said that today summed up their season. It summed up Burridge's too.

Pictured above: Pitch invasion

Burridge finished the season in sixth place. For the final Drew Smith Group Southampton league senior division table for 2009/10 click here


Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Redbridge 7-3 Burridge

Date: Wednesday 5th May
Venue: Green Park, Millbrook, Southampton

Something strange in the air at Green Park

There's something about the football pitches at Green Park in Millbrook that can bring out the worst in a man, with a general feeling of menace wafting up from the dirty mouth of the River Test, over Southampton's docks, and left hanging in the stale air between the tower blocks and the Burberry that surround the goalposts. Testosterone is never in short supply here.

I'd been waiting patiently for the referee's whistle to stop play after a hefty challenge left our goalkeeper Ryan Jones face down in a cloud of dusty earth. The whistle didn't sound and play continued. I, along with many others, have a soft spot for young Jonesy, and had it not been him who'd been pole-axed by a speeding elbow, I may have kept my mouth shut.

Pictured above: Bryn Schwodler (left) races against his opponent.

Differences in opinion and eye sight

“They're called peepers, ref.” I shouted at the referee. “Why don't you try using them?” This time the whistle blew, it was for me. “Come here,” snapped the referee, yanking his notebook free from the pocket of his black shorts, while Pete Lyons rooted through the first aid bag for an instruction manual to help him reassemble Ryan Jones. “I presume you know what this is for?” the referee asked me. I told him I presumed he knew why I let him have it.

Neither of us were in the mood to negotiate. Once I'd given him my name I watched him use blue ink to scribble it down neatly in the pages of his notebook. I hadn't been yellow carded for dissent in years, something I've often smugly reminded our captain Kristian Hewitt of. If I knew then that the ball and socket in Ryan Jones' shoulder joint was broken, I may have had a few more words to say, but in the given circumstances I felt I'd exercised more than enough restraint.

Pictured above: Justin Newman's free kick beats the goalkeeper, but hits the bar rather than the back of the net.

Sam Schwodler's thirteenth goal of the season, and Bryn Schwodler's twentieth and twenty-first had given us a first half 3-1 lead, but losing hadn't sat easy with Redbridge. They turned up the heat, let Jones know they were there, and by half-time they'd got the score back to 3-2. We managed to surrender what slender advantage we had by achieving the rare feat of conceding an equalising goal within ten seconds of the second half, despite having the kick off. Redbridge smelt blood and hit us hard on the break. We were losing 6-3 before we knew what day it was.

It's a knock out - how many fingers am I holding up?

Kev Willsher had dealt with every ball that came his way. Redbridge tossed a free kick into our penalty area, the delivery was a little low, so Kev left the ground, throwing himself at the ball to head it away from our penalty area and got kicked in the face by a Redbridge size ten boot that made his body go limp and knocked him unconscious. Redbridge's centre back broke Kev's fall by grabbing him with both arms and bringing him towards his chest like a deleted scene out of Platoon.

Pete Lyons tries to put Ryan Jones back together.

Kev was laid out flat when Pete ran on with the medical bag. When Kev came round he had a lump growing above his right eye. I just so happened to be stood behind the goal having earlier been substituted by Pete in an act of mercy. I helped Kev to the changing room where he made hard work of getting undressed. I resisted the temptation of letting him walk naked out the front door of the changing rooms, and after I'd pointed him in the right direction he stood under a jet of hot water saying nothing. I didn't think he should drive home. The rest of the team soon returned to the dressing room, having conceded a seventh goal late on in the game. We had been battered in more ways than one.

Report on Burridge's final game of the 09/10 season against Durley to follow soon.


Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Burridge 1-4 Redbridge

Saturday 1st May: Titchfield Recreation Ground

I was driving east along the M27 towards Titchfield Recreation Ground with the radio tuned into Stuart Hall on 5 live talking about Manchester City's hopes of finishing the season in the fourth Champions League qualifying place. “If they don't win today,” he said, “the dream is over.” The same was true of Burridge. Had anyone said we still had a shot at second place in the rain at Hiltingbury, at the end of March, having lost 4-1, they'd have been given short change. However, five consecutive wins in April has made promotion to the Southampton Premier League a real and sober possibility. For that to remain so we had to beat the side who currently occupy second place, Redbridge.

(Click on pics to enlarge) Top: Sam Schwodler heads goalwards. Bottom: Kristian Hewitt tries to score his penalty rebound. (All pics by Roz Hutton)

An injured right foot sustained playing Sunday league football has prevented me from taking part in any of our five consecutive wins, something I haven't been keen to bring up in conversation. I was surprised when Pete Lyons asked me on arrival in the car park if I was okay to go on the bench. I would have liked to have believed that he was after a certain kind of cynical bit part performance that he felt was missing from those five wins in a row, but the look on his face suggested it was more likely he was just desperate. Fortunately, my boots and shin-pads were in the boot of the car, along with the team kit, that I'd collected earlier from the laundrette. I told him I was confident of giving him a good twenty minute account of myself, if needed, maybe an entire half if I went at my foot with half a can of freeze spray.

While Southampton Saturday League fixtures are allocated with referees, the responsibility of linesman lies with a volunteer from each team. Over the years I've seen many people go to great lengths to avoid running the line, but having been starved of play for a fortnight I was eager to escape my jeans into a pair of black Burridge shorts, even if it did mean spending the afternoon as a linesman.

Burridge goalkeeper Ryan Jones adjusts his boot laces.

The referee quickly established first name terms with me. His name was Adrian, and for a moment I wondered if I should expect to find a Facebook friend request waiting for me in my email. Marc Judd and Paul Dyke, neither who are strangers to referee's notebooks, and both on the bench today carrying injuries, stood behind taking the piss out of me as Adrian ran over what he expected of his linesmen. Referees be warned: be good, bad, or indifferent, but don't try to be be friendly to players, they will only use your good nature against you.

As the game kicked off it began to rain. Those who had been pessimistic enough to believe the weather forecast hid under umbrellas. Ben Rowe tested the Redbridge goalkeeper's reflexes, then Rich Allan's volley made the deeply satisfying pinging noise that only a newly pumped up Mitre thudding against a steel crossbar can produce, but after twenty-five minutes Redbridge had scored four goals. Burridge captain Kristian Hewitt was struggling to keep a lid on his emotions. When it was left to Paul Dyke, who was on the substitute's bench, to warn Rich Allan he had an opponent on his tail, Kristian exploded. When the whistle blew for the end of the half Marc Judd and I chose to knock a ball to each other on the pitch, rather than intrude on the first half post mortem.

Kev Willsher defends a Redbridge attack.

Sam Scwhodler didn't get a chance to run at Redbridge during the first half, so when he saw an opportunity to fall over the goalkeeper's leg in the second he devoured it like a hungry man. Adrian blew his whistle for a penalty. Redbridge's four goal lead didn't stop them from going ape about players diving to win penalties. Their number five's eyes bulged from their sockets. “I'll stab you,” he told Sam, who now no longer living in the shadows of life thought better of throwing caution to the wind by returning number five's stare with a head-butt. Another Redbridge player tried to calm things down with a much needed sense of perspective. “Don't worry,” he assured his number five. “We'll get him afterwards.”

The penalty was taken by Kristian Hewitt. When his strike was parried back to him by Redbridge's goalkeeper I didn't feel overly concerned; when it came to volleying a football Kristian is Burridge's very own safe pair of hands. When Kristian's second stab at the penalty kick did finally come to a standstill a good walk behind the corner flag I was left with the hollow feeling I imagine boxing fans felt after seeing Muhammad Ali lose a split decision against Leon Spinks at the Hilton Sports Pavilion in 1978; shaken with the nasty doubt that this might be the final curtain for somebody you could always count on to produce the goods, and with this feeling came grim confirmation that this entire afternoon would end in a crushing defeat and another unnecessarily long wait to be served a pint at the Bugle Inn in Botley.

Dyke, Judd and myself failed to establish who could manage the longest playing time between us. When Pete did make make a change to Burridge's line up it was Mike Reed, ten years younger and neither balding or grey, who came on as substitute. Rich Allan's left wing delivery deserved the neat finish Bryn Schwodler gave it, heading in his nineteenth goal of the season, but Burridge's unbeaten eight match run had come to an abrupt end in twenty-five minutes of drizzle. Two games are now left in Burridge's season before Pete Lyons calls it a day as manager, and Saturday afternoons once again become wide open spaces.


Sunday, 2 May 2010

Wellow 1-9 Burridge

Burridge's fifth consecutive win makes promotion a possibility. Click here for video highlights.

Wednesday 28th April
Hatches Farm Playing Fields

“Do you know what I feel like doing?” Asked Wellow's manager. “Committing suicide, that's what.” It was too late, his team had already done it by letting nine Burridge goals fly past them. What hairline he had left he kept shaved down to the bone. He gave it a cautionary scratch, and reflecting on what he'd just told the gathering of people watching on the sidelines, decided that he might jut get stuck into a bottle of Calvados when he got home instead.

(Pics by Roz Hutton) Click to enlarge. Top: Sam Schwodler strides through on goal. Bottom: Bryn Schwodler completes his hat-trick.

Burridge may have enjoyed some good fortune to beat Wellow the previous Saturday, (click here for that report), but not in this game. They'd scored four goals before half-time. Sam Schwodler banged in three of them, Ben Rowe the other. The game's up for any team when the opposition react to curling one into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area by walking casually back to the half-way line, and that's exactly what Bryn Schwodler did only minutes into the second half to make it five

It was about this time that Wellow made a substitution. There were no shortage of volunteers to be taken off with several Wellow players making eyes to their manager.
All of which looked pretty disappointed when they were overlooked in favour of their left-back. He'd spent the game hunched over for air in a perpetual state of fucked, which was little surprise seeing as he looked about sixty years old. His name was Malky, and he peeled of his white shirt and leaned on the pitch's perimeter railings. The name tattooed onto a heart in his forearm had been smudged by time.

Sam Schwodler got his fourth goal, his brother Bryn ended up with three, while Ben Rowe picked up the slack with two of his own. Wellow were demoralised. Their wingers saw little point in retreating into defensive positions. This got one Wellow player's goat. “Get back or get off the pitch,” he shouted to his right-winger, and with that the right winger sloped off toward the changing rooms fifty yards away with his head bowed. Another Wellow player bemoaned the fact his team had let in seven goals. Kristian Hewitt quickly corrected him it was actually nine.


Saturday, 1 May 2010

Burridge 2-1 Wellow

Saturday 24th April
The Shed, Burridge

Half-time came as a relief to Burridge. They'd spent most of the first half making Wellow look dangerous. They sat on the grass and awaited instruction from their manager Pete Lyons. Bryn Schwodler swigged from a water bottle. He'd been picked to play alongside Mark Reeves in the centre of midfield. “You might as well pull me off now,” he could be heard muttering. The second half didn't get much better. Wellow scored. Had it not been for Burridge goalkeeper Ryan Jones they would have done so much earlier.

(Pics by Roz Hutton) click on pics to enlarge, top: Ben Hutton and Kristian Hewitt line up a free kick. Bottom: Ben Hutton scores from the free kick.

Things didn't go as well for Wellow's goalkeeper. Law 12 of the game states that the opposition will be awarded an indirect free kick if a goalkeeper, inside his own penalty area, touches the ball again with his hands after he has released it from his possession and before it has touched another player.

Although technically, that law was broken, the ball had been out of the goalkeeper's grasp for no more than a second, having slightly fumbled it in mid air. Much of the referee's decision to award the free kick seemed to stem from Rich Allan's strong appeal for it. When Rich shouted he can't do that ref, the sound of the whistle quickly followed. Kristian Hewitt and Ben Hutton lined up the free kick. They spoke to each other in gestures while Wellow continued to moan at the referee. Hewitt moved the ball a few blades of grass to his right to Ben Hutton, who hammered it into the net.

The referee, perhaps knowing he'd made a mistake in giving Burridge a free kick, seemed keen to make another, in order to even things out between the two sides. Paul Dyke managed to prevent Sam Hewitt from chinning the referee by dragging him away by the scruff of the neck. Hewitt, along with everybody else wearing Burridge colours, hotly contested the referee's decision to penalise his tackle in the penalty area.

Wellow's number seven quickly appointed himself penalty taker. His white sleeves were pulled up above his elbows to reveal many hours spent in tattoo parlours. He placed the ball gently on the penalty spot. He'd not been as careful with his language during the course of the afternoon, having had much to say about Burridge, and none of it good. Now Burridge's Paul Dyke wanted the last word. Dyke said that the ball wasn't on the spot. He walked towards the ball and checked for himself. He did a thorough job. Wellow number seven's penalty kick wasn't worth the wait. It went straight. Ryan Jones slim legs stopped Wellow taking a 2-1 lead.

With his team's momentum lost, a Wellow midfielder decided that this was the right time to try a different tact. With the halfway-line being his chosen destination he tried to chop Ben Hutton, a sixteen stone man, in two. He had a good go, wrapping his studs somewhere around Hutton's knee. The referee pulled out his red card and sent him off. The Wellow midfielder ripped off his shirt and walked off the field in a tantrum. He began moaning about the referee to his manager. Hutton didn't retaliate. He said hitting a man with highlights in his hair is no better than hitting a girl.

Wellow were vulnerable. They'd cast themselves as the bad guys. Sam Schwodler burst through the middle late on in the game. He couldn't reach the ball, but managed to leave the goalkeeper in a heap on the floor. The ball fell kindly to Rich Allan. The Wellow defenders on the goal line didn't seem to distract him from scoring the winner.


Looking back (bringing back the blog)

I haven't posted here since 2012 – that’s five years of not blogging. The blog is/was about Burridge AFC, the football team I played f...