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