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.