Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Burridge AFC 4-1 Michelmersh

Date: Saturday 28th August 
Comp: Senior Division, Southampton Saturday League
Venue: Mount Pleasant Recreation Ground, Hamble

(Pics by Roz Hutton) Above: Sam Schwodler celebrates his hat-trick.
It was only after rummaging through the contents of my sports holdall that I realised I'd made a vital omission. In all the excitement of our first league game of the season I'd forgotten to pack my cycling shorts. This wouldn't have been such an issue had I arrived at the changing rooms at Mount Pleasant recreation ground wearing underwear. But I had not. From time to time I enjoy going without.

I took a moment to weigh up the options available to me: I could either leave my modestly sized genitals flapping loose under a pair of black Burridge shorts, or attempt to fashion some sort of makeshift jock-strap with the roll of brown electrical tape in the medical bag. Being on the hairier side, I decided to plump for the former. I shared this information with Kristian Hewitt. He looked back at me with an expression I have come to recognise in the eighteen years I have known him.

'You can't play without any cacks,' he told me.

“I could wear two pairs of shorts?”

He shook his head. “It won't work.”   

Kristian Hewitt, poised for action.
In hindsight, I could have driven two miles up the road to Tescos. What with kick-off not for another hour I would have had plenty of time to peruse their collection of briefs and trunk-shorts. Without fully realising it at the time, I think I'd rather hoped that some kind team-mate would donate me a spare pair. Perhaps sensing this, everybody remained looking down toward the changing room floor, all busy lacing their boots in firm double knots, fitting their shin-guards in place, and smearing thick globules of deep heat into the smalls of their back.

Armed and dangerous: Mark Reeves goes after the ball.
It was Sammy Hewitt who drew my attention to a rather fortunate quirk of fate. Deep in the recesses of the club kit bag is, and has been for some months now, an unclaimed pair of black trunk style boxer shorts. I got down on my hands and knees and burrowed through laddered socks and old sods of dried grass and there they were, a black pair from Next. I held them to my nose and breathed in deeply. They smelt great. I really ought to ask what washing detergent the laundrette on Bedford Place use. They were a little thread bare and bobbled in appearance, but I was no position to complain. One man's castaways were my salvation. I slipped them on. They fit like a glove.

Over the years, I've been faced with similar changing room dilemma's. One that stands out in my mind is on a Wednesday evening at Green Park in Millbrook. I'd been in a great hurry to park my car and get to the toilets. In my haste to empty my bowels, I hadn't checked to see if there was an adequate supply of toilet roll. Without a single sheet I was forced to leave that grubby toilet cubicle with only one sock. Many years ago, former Burridge captain, Scott Burnet was cornered into a similar improvisation. The thin wad of receipts he pulled from his trouser pocket were never destined to be used for a tax return.

Jason Wilson's presence allowed his midfield partner Kristian Hewitt to do less running.
The game itself was far more straightforward. Those endless laps spent running around the cricket pitch at Burridge during pre-season training had set us in good stead for closing Michelmersh down. Jason Wilson typified this approach in the centre of midfield, a player who Paul Dyke has brought with him from his Sunday side Blues. Later on at the West End Brewery, Dyke claimed that Wilson, a postman by day, puts his anaerobic fitness down to running his morning postal round with a sack of letters on his back. By half-time we'd built up a three-nil lead. Sam Schwodler with two goals and Kristian Hewitt, freed up by Wilson's water carrying, took advantage of the numerous times he was able to pop up on edge of penalty area to score a goal of his own.

Sam Schwodler completed his hat-trick in the second-half and although Michelmersh were to be commended for giving it a go and pulling a goal back, they didn't have enough in the tank to make a real fist of it. All in all, it was a good start to another Southampton League campaign. 

Paul Dyke sent Burridge out in a 4-4-2 formation:

GK: Ryan Jones
RB:  Dan Allen
CB: Kev Willsher (c )
CB: Ryan Hurst
LB: Mark Sanderson
RM: Sam Hewitt
CM: Kristian Hewitt
CM: Jason Wilson
LM: Mark Reeves (Dan Drinkwater)
CF: Joe Hill (Lee Fielder)
CF: Sam Schwodler (Ben Hutton) 

Moment of the match: Sam Schwodler's hat-trick. For Saturday's other results click here


Thursday, 26 August 2010

Burridge AFC 6-0 Veracity Vipers

Tuesday 24th August, Whiteley, kick-off: 6:30pm

Their player-manager was still complaining to Dykey when I got out the showers. One or two of our players knew him. I think his name's Whitey. I passed him as I walked back into our dressing room. He'd changed into a shirt and tie and although his brown hair was thinning a little, he wasn't ready to give it up to the clippers yet. He wore it combed to one side. All of his players had gone home. I didn't stick around to hear exactly what he was saying; I was certain he was still stewing over an offside decision given by Joe Hill. Dykey followed me in, letting the door close behind him. “He's going to let one decision ruin his night,” said Dykey, shaking his head, “Jesus, I went to his wedding.”

Click pic to enlarge: Burridge do a bit of morris dancing prior to the match. All pics by Luke Sanderson

Dykey had put himself on as a substitute for Joe with about fifteen minutes of the game left.Joe took over as linesman, wearing Dykey's black hooded Le Coq Sportiff coat. It hung over his shorts making it look like he wasn't wearing anything underneath at all. Five minutes later he raised his flag for offside against Veracity. Whitey couldn't contain himself. He walked within two yards of Joe and called him a cheating cunt. Joe told him to fuck off, then asked the referee to have a word.

“I didn't come here to be cheated,” repeated Whitey as he pointed at Joe. “He's an absolute disgrace.” I never did ask Joe if maybe he had given us the benefit of the doubt, because at the time there was less than ten minutes left and we were winning 6-0; it didn't really seem to matter a great deal, but it mattered to Whitey. He'd been in a much better mood when he heard Dykey say he was coming on as substitute. “Your manager's coming on?” said Whitey, smiling. “Highlight of the night.” He wasn't smiling now. I was stood in front of him when Sam Schwodler started moaning at Veracity's linesman over an offside decision. “What's the point in him doing that?” Whitey asked me. “You're already 6-0 up.”

Paul Dyke and Rich Lodwidge with their heads firmly in the clouds.

After the final whistle he began directing his complaints at Dykey, going so far as to accuse him of getting Joe to cheat. Dykey didn't rise to bait. I followed him off the pitch toward the dressing rooms, calling him by the number eight on the back of his shirt, so we could shake hands. I half expected him to ignore me. He didn't though. We shook and he wished me well for the season, but I could see he was still pissed off.

The signs were there from the start. We were using our Mitre footballs for the game, but when Veracity restarted after our first goal, one of their players hugged the ball into his chest to check the air pressure, shaking his head in disapproval and tossing it to the referee to check. In the second half we'd mysteriously changed to one of their Adidas footballs. It made no difference to the final outcome. Rich Lodwidge scored two in the first half. Dykey later joked that at half-time he'd told Rich he wasn't doing too badly for our worst player on the night. Rich completed his hat-trick in second half, tapping in after Joe Hill had centred from the right. Dan Drinkwater scored emphatically in each half and Joe Hill got one for himself.

Former players Bryn Schwodler and Rich Allan come down to say hello.

It was getting dark when I got outside to the car-park. Whitey had called it a day and drove home. I put the crate of club bottles in the boot of my car. Even in the bad light I knew it was about time I hosed off the mud caked to the crate's base and promised myself I'd do it before the weekend. A handful of us went to the Parsons Collar, a nearby pub that shares a car-park with the Solent Hotel.

The barman apologised to me for taking too long getting my receipt from the chip and pin machine. I doubt he'd had much practise, seeing as other than two customers the place was completely empty. We sat next to a flat screen TV showing Sky Sports News feeding through the latest Carling Cup scores. Hursty was pleased, Davide Somma had put Leeds United one up against Leicester City.

left to right: Ryan Hurst, Sam Hewitt, Jonesy (yellow jersey), Dan Allen.

Along with Jonesy, he'd been to get a tattoo done in Woolston earlier in the day. They rolled up their sleeves, untaped their bandages and showed us their raw inked skin. Hursty had got a Leed United tattoo, with LUFC inked onto his right bicep. Jonesy had seize the day done in Arabic on the underside of his right bicep. He had to drive home half-way through getting it done to get the original Arabic print because the tattoo artist was paranoid about getting it wrong. We didn't stay for a second drink. Leeds lost the game 2-1.

Burridge goals were scored by:

Rich Lodwidge 3
Dan Drinkwater 2
Joe Hill 1

The Burridge 4-4-2 formation:

GK: Ryan Jones
RB: Dan Allen
CB: Sam Hewitt
CB: Ryan Hurst
LB: Mark Sanderson
RM: Rich Lodwidge
CM: Kristian Hewitt
CM: Dan Drinkwater
LM: Mark Reeves
CF: Joe Hill (Paul Dyke)
CF: Sam Schwodler

Burridge kick off their league season on Saturday afternoon against Michelmersh & Timsbury Reserves at Mount Pleasant in Hamble, kick-off: 2:30pm.


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Burridge AFC 7-3 Wildern Old Boys

Saturday 21st August: 10 goals in 10-a-side game: Kristian Hewitt scores two crackers on an hour's sleep

After a few hour's sleep, Burridge midfielder, Kristian Hewitt, skipped breakfast and made the two hour drive from Tuscany to Pisa Airport. Fulfilling his duties as Bryn Schwodler's best man had brought and end to his three days in Italy. The queues at the airport were long and they moved slowly, but they did not delay his Ryanair flight home to Bournemouth and by midday he was at home packing his Nikes into his kit-bag and driving east down the M27 to Whiteley for Burridge's friendly with Wildern Old Boys. He had to flick on his windscreen wipers. Summer was over.

(Click all pics to enlarge) 1-0 - Kristian Hewitt opens the scoring.

Wildern could only muster eight men. Finding this out ten minutes before kick-off did not impress Paul Dyke, who'd arranged the game five weeks earlier. With time against us, we had no choice but to improvise, agreeing to play ten, rather than eleven-a-side. Burridge's Ryan Jones, who was scheduled to play the second half in goal for Burridge, played the first as centre forward for the opposition, along with Mark Reeves, who filled in for Wildern at right-back. I told them they had a rare opportunity to gain an insight into what it's like to play against their own team. I'm not sure if they agreed.

(Top) Joe Hill watches his strike, that (bottom) finds the corner of the net

After fifteen minutes it was two-nil. After twenty minutes Wildern were down to nine men. One of their players lay beside their goal like a felled stag, with one hand covering his eyes, the other waving in the air for help. Instead, he got a wet sponge from a bucket of shallow water rubbed into his hamstring. He played no further part in the game. Wildern needed another one of our players, so Dan Allen, who was running the line, stepped in at left back for them.

Wildern were losing 3-0 by time they scored their first. It was a penalty and had as much to do with Burridge as it did their own depleted ranks, when Ryan Jones' choreography was sufficient in convincing the referee into believing that Ryan Hurst had fouled him in the penalty area. Jones then came within a whisker of scoring himself when his shot was cleared off the line by Sam Schwodler. The stage was then set for Mark Reeves to humiliate me by the corner flag. His chosen method was the nutmeg and as he tapped the ball delicately between my legs, I could hear his voice on the breeze as he ran past me towards goal. I could just about make out the word, I think he said nuts.

Sammy Hewitt tries his luck from distance.

At half-time the referee sat in the centre-circle on one of our Mitre match-balls. This was the same referee who'd complained to me two weeks ago that he'd not been put on the list to officiate in county and Wessex reserve league games, where he'd get a good builder's cup of tea at half-time. “Excuse me,” shouted Dyke, from the sidelines. “Do you mind not sitting on that.” The referee remained silent, as if coming to terms with some terrible event. “Fine. I'll just take the cost of the ball out of your match fee.” Finally, the referee stood up and gave Dyke a hard stare.

Ryan Jones makes a new friend. All pics by Roz Hutton

His mood deteriorated further in the second half. He gave Ryan Hurst a ticking off for what he deemed shaking his head in an aggressive manner. Perhaps referees and players are never destined to really get on with one another. I listened to the referee's agitated voice for the rest of the game and thought about what his motivation for becoming a referee in the first place had been. Whatever it was, I don't think it had planned on being here, on a damp August afternoon, refereeing a friendly between one and a half teams. Jones, having now replaced Channell in goal for Burridge, was beaten twice, which was incidental as we now had seven. By now, Ben Rowe and Ben Hutton were playing up-front for Wildern. Ben Rowe scored, but in doing so for Wildern, further confused the narrow boundaries that can separate the friendly fixture and the farcical.

Burridge's goals were scored by:

Kristian Hewitt 2
Daniel Esfandiari 2
Sam Hewitt 2
Jo Hill 1

Burridge squad: Stuart Channell, Ryan Jones, Ben Hutton, Ryan Hurst, Mark Sanderson, Mark Reeves, Dan Allen, Sam Schwodler, Kristian Hewitt, Daniel Esfandiari, Sam Hewitt, Ben Rowe, Joe Hill

On this day two years ago: Burridge beat Aero Vets 4-1 with Paul Andrews in goal

Next game: v Veracity Vipers this evening (Tues 24 Aug), Whiteley.


Saturday, 21 August 2010

Burridge AFC 0-1 Whitenap

Pamela Anderson stops locals coming in their droves to see Burridge AFC, probably.

It was on a Wednesday evening after work, in the shopping outlet community of Whiteley, which is off junction 9 of the M27, when I discovered that size really does matter. Whiteley has a Tesco, a Jaeger, a Clinton Cards and a Starbucks. It also has a Chapelle, a discount jewellery store that entices passers by through their door by selling wedding rings for under a hundred quid. But what it didn't have this evening was its usual allocation of football pitches.

Click on pic to enlarge: Essy (number 8) notices the Barratt show homes closing in on him.

The only pitch marked out at Meadowside Leisure Centre was narrow in width and short in length, therefore not conducive to finding space and playing anything resembling an attractive passing game like you see on the telly, sometimes. This resulted in Ben Hutton's defensive clearances having no trouble reaching the arms of Whitenap's goalkeeper. When Whitenap defender's followed suit, their midfield got cross with them, pointing out that they wanted passes into feet, as opposed to the dense hedge rows that flanked one side of the pitch.

I, on the other hand, couldn't help but feel that there was something mildly disconcerting about playing in such close quarters to what looked like a series of Barratt show homes. Why had none of their owners come out to watch us struggle to deal with Whitenap's long throw-ins? How was I to know that they may well have been prevented from doing so by Pamela Anderson, who was talking on the One Show about starring in pantomime later this year with Les Dennis in Liverpool.

Burridge manager Paul Dyke directs from the sideline.

Work commitments and summer holidays had shrunk the size of Paul Dyke's Burridge squad down to thirteen players, a number which included himself amongst the substitutes. Stuart Channell made his Burridge debut in goal, making several good saves, despite the lack of any peaked cap and in full glare of the low evening sun of the first half.

Ben Rowe, Sam Hewitt and Joe Hill were all left disappointed that they didn't score from the chances we created in the first-half. Hill could later be heard reflecting on his missed opportunity whilst stood outside the changing rooms after the game. “I was waiting for the net to rustle,” he said, puffing away on a cigarette, “Then he just came out of nowhere.” He, being a Whitenap defender, who having refused to give up his hopes of keeping the game scoreless, somehow dragged himself into a position to deflect Hill's firm side-footed shot over the crossbar. This drew applause from both sets of players.

During a stoppage in play I enjoyed a friendly conversation with a Whitenap striker on the half-way line. He had a stocky build and fair hair. “Not a bad little side, your lot,” he said. This was his first game back after eighteen months out injured. He left me in no doubt to what he'd been doing in that time. “I've been eating too many cheeseburgers,” he told me as he peered down towards his not particularly big stomach and laughed. Anyone who gives Kev Willsher a run for his money in terms of brute strength, cannot be as infatuated with cheeseburgers as much as they would have you believe. Later, frankly unnecessary research of Whitenap's website, suggested that it was Scott Ferguson, formerly of Totton & Eling, whom I spoke with.

Dyke gets his message over during half-time.

To put this match into some sort context, Whitenap play in the premier division of the City of Southampton Sunday League, which is mainly occupied with players who turn out for Saturday teams with proper grounds, whose floodlit pitches are surrounded by advertisement hoardings for things like tiles and ceramics, building firms and aggregate suppliers; players who still have the enthusiasm to wake up on a Sunday morning, put their boots back on and do it all over again.

One of the Whitenap contingent insisted that the only thing stopping them from putting the game to bed was stringing four passes together. Their real weapon, on this narrow pitch at least, was as I have already mentioned, a long throw-in. Combine that asset with a tall busy forward line, and well, you do the math. It was from one of these throw-ins that led to Whitenap scoring the only goal of the game. We continued to put our back into it, but from there on in we didn't trouble Whitenap's goalkeeper into anything more pressing than a goal-kick. Perhaps it was this lack of action that caused him to continue kicking them off the pitch. His midfielders were not impressed.

Burridge on the attack during the second half.

The 4-4-2 Burridge line-up versus Whitenap was:

GK: Channell (Jones)
RB: Allen
CB: Hutton
CB: Hurst
LB: Jones (Willsher - on at CB after arriving late from work)
RM: S.Hewitt (Dyke)
CM: Esfandiari
CM: Sanderson
LM: Lodwidge
CF: Hill
CF: Rowe

NB All pics by Roz Hutton and Luke Sanderson. Thanks!


Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Yes, football is all about money.....

To those who say that the game of football is all about money these days - I would tend to agree. This statement is no less true here at Burridge, where the club's longevity depends as much on its ability to pay its bills, as it does its players maintaining an interest in turning up for games every week.

This season we will pay anything up to £3,000 on the cost of our annual league registration, weekly floodlit training sessions, home game pitches, referee fees, as well as the fines accrued from yellow and red cards. Not an extortionate sum, but a sum of money all the same, that without a wealthy sponsor, is paid out of players' pockets.

It does, however, require someone to collect it from those sometimes very deep and very elusive pockets. That person just so happens to be me. Not because I have a flair for book-keeping, but because nobody else can be arsed to do it.

Above: My trusted tools for keeping on top of collecting player subscription fees.

Directly after games, players find a level of concentration often totally absent during the previous ninety minutes, to get showered, changed and to the pub as quickly as possible. Often wanting to make a swift getaway themselves, referees are keen to receive their match fee.

It is paid in cash, from the home team, after the game. It is rarely given to them, they have to come to the dressing room to collect it; and in my experience, they have no qualms taking a fistful of damp five pound notes from naked men. There are times, usually every Saturday afternoon, when this money has to be cajoled from some of our players, by me.

Last season we paid the Hampshire Football Association £193 in fines, for yellow and red cards given to our players for various breaches of discipline. There was a time, in the not so distant past, that referees would turn a blind eye to sending the paperwork each yellow card requires to the powers that be.

Not so these days. It's very unusual for the club not to receive the fine through the post. So, what was once seen as an optional payment, much like giving loose change to the Salvation Army, has become a minimum of eight quid straight down the swanny, all for kicking the ball away after the whistle, or telling the referee to fuck off.

Experience has taught me that there are several tools to which you need at your disposal if you're to collect your club's subscription monies successfully. Firstly, you'll need a sturdy book in which to record who has paid what and when. It will get left in the pub once or twice too; so, it pays to pop your particulars inside the front cover.

Don't settle for one of those wretched Silvine Memo books. Yes, they have 36 sheets in which to scribble in, and they are pocket size, but their soft back will never withstand the elements, of spilt lager, shower gel leakage, or urine. Trust me, I should know.

There's no need to be flamboyant, either; knowing that the 15th February is a national holiday in Luxembourg, or the number which to call for reservations on the ferry service to Isle of Man, as some of the more expensive notebooks and diaries include, will not help you create a system that clearly shows that certain players owe money. Plump for an A5 size notebook with a sturdy spine.

You'll need somewhere to keep the money, too. A wallet's no good, you don't want the confusion of mixing it in with your own wad. The right tool for the job, something that staff at HSBC recognise as a washing powder bag, is actually an enormously practical tool for keeping loose change.

This year, Paul Dyke has told players that all debts to the club, whether they be fines or weekly subscriptions, be paid off within seven days, or else they might have a free weekend to go do something else until they are.

Tomorrow, Burridge play Premier Division, City of Southampton Sunday Football League side Whitenap, kick-off at 6pm, or near as damn it, at Meadowside Leisure Centre, Whiteley.


Friday, 13 August 2010

Sholing Youth 4-0 Burridge

Wednesday 11 August - We'd escaped from work on an overcast afternoon to sit patiently in our cars shortly after 5pm, on a lay-by on Portsmouth Road, waiting for somebody to arrive and unlock the padlocked gates leading to Sholing's ground on the opposite side of the road. Some of the opposition weren't old enough to drive. They got lifts from their parents.

Not that age would have been cited as an excuse for defeat by Sholing's youth team manager Brad Whitman, who brought in several players to his starting line-up to plug the gaps that we had exploited in our 4-1 win over them last Saturday.

Sholing were a sterner prospect compared to the side we'd faced four days earlier. The right-back, whom we'd enjoyed plenty of success against on Saturday morning, often from nothing more complicated than lofting the ball in his general direction, had been replaced by a far trickier customer, who rarely wasted an opportunity to get forward and create problems for us.

I spent my time trying to keep their left winger quiet. On the occasion I did manage to dispossess him of the ball, my momentum brought me far closer than I'd intended to three spectators. I used the opportunity to break the ice with a quick joke: “He's a bit quick, isn't he?” I said, motioning my sweaty head behind me. “He's only fifteen,” they laughed back.

Moments later, I was presented with the perfect opportunity to properly induct the young fellow into the men's game. There was even a chance I might win the ball in the process. He had his back to me on the half-way line, waiting to receive his goalkeeper's punted clearance that I had already anticipated bouncing just short of his control. If I hit him hard enough, within the rules of the game, he'd be out of my hair for the evening. It was to my surprise and great disappointment that he didn't stay on the floor for very long. With my main skill-set rendered obsolete I knew I had a difficult evening ahead.

The referee, a well tanned man, looked like a leather version of Warren Clarke from Dalziel and Pascoe. A thatch of grey hair sprouted from the collar of his shirt. His match-fee was £23 and he had a nice firm handshake.

Sholing knocked the ball around in a hurry, but their haste rarely resulted in inaccurate passes. It paid dividends when they took the lead mid way through the first half, the ball hitting the far post before crossing the goal-line. Sholing's second goal owed more to good fortune, when the ball squirmed free of Ryan Jones' grasp into the top corner. It was his first game in goal since having the ball of his shoulder cracked out of his socket during a game in May.

In the second half Sholing put the game out of our reach by scoring a third. Then they sent on another fast winger. Although talented, his inexperience was never more apparent than after I'd had a few hacks at him. Instead of seeing out the game quietly, he had the temerity to fly past me down the left wing and score Sholing's fourth goal.

Historically, teenage Sholing players have used the youth team as a spring board to the first team, where consolation for having to travel to midweek games in Bristol or Worcestershire comes in the contents of a brown envelope.


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

West End Brewery win again

Saturday 7 August, West End High Street, SO30 - There was standing room only by the time we arrived at the West-End Brewery. It was shortly after 12:30pm and the place was packed full almost entirely of men, all here to watch Sky Television's coverage of Southampton, who were kicking-off their 125th football season at home to Plymouth Argyle, four miles up the road at St Mary's.

I have never seen the Bugle Inn, where we used to drink after our games, this busy on either Christmas Eve or New Years Eve, let alone a Saturday lunchtime, which is just as well, seeing as getting served at the Bugle often required the patience of a BBC film crew in the Himalayas, waiting to capture footage of the Yeti. I've seen people walk out of there without drinking a drop, having spent thirsty minutes leant over the bar looking for signs of life. They usually ended up over the road in the Dolphin, which is even worse.

There was plenty of room at St.Mary's. Although just over 21,000 spectators had forked out between £19 and £27 for tickets, there was still over ten-thousand empty red and white seats, despite Southampton being, for the first time in my entire life, the bookie's clear favourites to win the title, or what is in old money the division three championship. Ruddles at £1.99 a pint went some way in explaining why people in here had stayed away.

Latecomers asked each other why Rickie Lambert wasn't playing up front for Southampton. Rickie had told Burridge captain Kev Willsher's Dad why, in an unexpected Friday night exclusive at Asda in Chandlers Ford, when he spotted the footballer doing his shopping, and decided on having a chat, rather than follow ten paces behind him, like some of the other people who'd recognised him preferred to do. It was a groin strain that was keeping him from playing.

I wondered if Rickie had sustained the injury in the supermarket, much like I did, when I lost the trolley coin token my gran gave me, along with a significant amount of finger nail, in the car-park at Netto. This happened when I attempted what seemed the reasonable task of retrieving the token from its slot. Success didn't completely elude me that day, I did buy a box of eight fish fillet steaks for £3.

I have walked past Kev's Dad many times on a Saturday afternoon dressed in my Burridge kit en route to the field of play, and on each of those occasions he has uttered nothing more to me than what could be written on the back of a postage stamp, but then again, I didn't score 36 goals for Southampton last season.

When Plymouth scored what turned out to be the only goal of the game, a man sat on the table nearest wearing last season's Southampton shirt, starting moaning about the home team's performance to an even greater degree than he had been doing since we'd arrived.

His was the God given talent of being able to maintain a pissed off facial expression, with the thick spectacle lenses resting on his ruddy nose powerless to prevent him from squinting at the flat screen television, which in turn, caused his mouth to gape open and reveal a set of teeth that Desert Orchid would have been proud of. Bloody crap, was all he could be heard to keep saying. He wasn't the only one.


Monday, 9 August 2010

Sholing Youth 1-4 Burridge AFC

Saturday 7th August, Portsmouth Road, Sholing - A combination of new and familiar faces, bound together by a month's hard slog on the training ground, got changed in the cramped away team dressing rooms, for Burridge's first pre-season fixture with Sholing Youth.

Burridge striker Ben Rowe reacted stoically to an absence of toilet paper. The pressing nature of his predicament helped him summon the determination to forage the building for a handful of paper towels, but not before he continued his ongoing tussle with Lee Fielder. We continued to get changed, as the two wrestled each other amongst a pile of football kit. Surely, it can only be a matter of time before the two decide to move in together.

The previous night's rain had done little to return any colour to the grass, which remained bleached blond. We were warming up when Sam Schwodler arrived, clutching his metal studded football boots in his left hand. He didn't need telling that his feet would be red raw by lunchtime if he were to play in them.

He asked if anyone had a spare pair of size ten rubber studded boots, out of hope rather than expectancy, saying he'd squeeze into a size nine if needs be. It had taken everybody's full concentration to arrive at Portsmouth Road at nine in the morning, nobody had a spare pair. Sam had also forgotten his shin pads. Rowe did have a spare set of those for him.

Jason Wilson took a break from delivering his postal round, to make his Burridge debut at right-back. He put his red Royal Mail sack into the dug-out, whilst I asked the referee if he was looking forward to the upcoming season. “Yes and no,” he said, tucking his black notebook into his chest pocket. His application to referee Hampshire League games had been delayed. “It's all very political,” he told me. “I'll take them to court if they mess me about.” Our conversation was enough for me to decide to leave him well alone during the game.

Sholing interchanged quick passes during their warm up as we sauntered about, until a voice boomed out and told them to start doing it properly, which seemed to mean really quickly. Sholing have coasted to the youth league over the last few years, and expectations and standards at their club remain high. It is not unrealistic that players from this squad may feature in the first team later on in the season.

With both Burridge goalkeepers absent, Sholing had kindly agreed for us to have one of theirs play for us in each half. The first of whom, I introduced myself to by offering my handshake. The goalkeeper seemed reluctant to respond to my good nature, which had my heckles up for a moment, until he told me the reason why. He'd just had a good spit on his gloves for extra grip. He was fifteen.

Paul Dyke started me in the left-back position. Irrespective of me being right footed, it remains unclear if I'm the best left-back in the squad. What's rather less of a mystery is that I'm not even the best left-back in my flat. My brother Luke is far more adept in the position, so I'm thankful that a combination of his work commitments and dodgy knee prevent me from having an even trickier situation on my hands than I do at present. With twenty-one enthusiastic players gunning for fourteen places in the squad things are tough enough as they are.

Sholing's management communicated on the sidelines in two ways: behind their hands in faint whispers, or at full blast. “Pass it, and stretch them,” shouted one. “There's only fifteen gone and they're all blowing out their arse.” I didn't feel that to be the case. Sholing continued to pass the ball but it didn't always do them any good. Chris Pye had a good opportunity to score before Lee Fielder gave us the lead, injuring his knee in the process.

Approximately thirteen minutes had passed. Kristian Hewitt, Kev Willsher and myself exchanged knowing looks as Lee laid out flat holding his knee. With his chequered injury history there was a terrible inevitability about it. Chris Pye scored with an identical chance to which he had earlier had saved, before Sholing scored on the stroke of half-time.

In the second half Paul Dyke removed his shirt and jacket, simultaneously revealing that he goes to the gym and he uses sunblock. He could often be heard appealing for free-kicks from the sideline, which the referee would almost always dismiss. Sam Schwodler laid on two more goals, both finished comfortably by Ben Rowe and Richard Lodwidge. It had been a surprisingly good start.

Paul Dyke's Burridge squad: Dan Allen, Paul Andrews, Daniel Esfandiari, Lee Fielder, Kristian Hewitt, Sam Hewitt, Joe Hill, Richard Lodwidge, Chris Pye, Ben Rowe, Mark Sanderson, Sam Schwodler, Kev Willsher ( c), Jason Wilson


Thursday, 5 August 2010


A load of crap; that was Burridge midfielder Kristian Hewitt's frank assessment of Hedge-End's performance in a pre-season fixture with their veteran eleven at the Norman Rodaway last Saturday afternoon. Hewitt left the match after twenty minutes, a damning indictment on any game, until taking into consideration just how short a walk it is from the Rodaway to Hewitt's house, and that playing veteran sides, if my experiences are anything to go by, can be notoriously difficult.

The minimum eligible age for veteran football is 35, although veteran players are often far older. They have nothing to lose in pre-season games against younger opposition, who often find themselves trying too hard to force the game, as I have experienced to my cost after sulking off to the dressing-rooms after bring trounced 4-0 by Aerostructure vets last year.

Former Burridge striker Bryn Schwodler, now at Hedge-End, agreed that Saturday's game was rubbish. Hedge-End will no doubt produce a far better performance more in keeping with their 2-0 win over Hampshire Premier League side Hamble Club last night, when they play us on August 11th.

Last night was our final training session before a series of pre-season games on Saturdays and Wednesdays throughout August. Reaction to training has been positive, overcoming any misgivings that most footballers at this level of the game tend to have regarding anything that involves strenuous exercise.

Burridge manager Paul Dyke has taken all the sessions, last night's being slightly less hard going with Saturday's first pre-season game in mind, and although no two sessions have been the same, all have maintained a familiar theme throughout, which has yet to fail in leaving players feeling totally bollocksed. None more so than Sam Hewitt, who could be seen laid flat on his back during yesterday's end of session match.

Paul Dyke raised Hewitt's leg and pushed down firmly on the sole of his Nike cleat in an effort to relieve the cramp in Hewitt's calf. This continued for five minutes without success, the only blip on what's been an encouraging start to pre-season.

Sam Hewitt, this time being relieved by his brother Kristian, seems to have a history of cramping up, which poses the question - what gives with this kid?


Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Leaving players (reducing the sock deficit)

It has been brought to my attention that the mast-head above, featuring pictures of each player in the Burridge squad, is now out of date since five of them have left the club.

Rich Allan, who is pictured bleeding generously from his eyebrow in the top left of the top row, has re-joined Hedge-End in a player-coach capacity for their young reserve side. Personally, I think this is a shame. The atmosphere in our dressing room will be a great deal quieter in his absence.

Following Allan to Hedge-End, and more than capable of holding down a regular starting place in their first eleven is last season's Burridge top goal-scorer Bryn Schwodler, (top row, second from left), along with his older brother Jay (bottom row, third from left), leaving Sam Schwodler (bottom row, fourth from right) as the family's sole representative at Burridge, and everyone else to contribute in making up the 23 goals scored by Bryn last season.

At the age of 37, Justin Newman (bottom row, bottom right) has decided to take up veteran's football with Wildern Old Boys. Rarely did a game pass without him hacking his opponent in a series of ever so slightly mistimed tackles. Rarer still did referees punish him as adequately as his opponents demanded from their position in a heap on the floor, to which Justin would shrug his shoulders and smile, or failing that, tell them to fuck off.

Newman's escape from our company will only be a temporary measure because both Wildern and ourselves will be drinking in the West-End Brewery after games, a pub that I warmed to whilst enjoying a pint with Burridge's Kristian Hewitt one sunny afternoon earlier this year, when a largish lady, who made up for in bust size what she lacked in teeth, swaggered past me to the ladies with a lit cigarette hanging from her lips.

Perhaps most crucially, is the departure of Burridge manager Pete Lyons (photographed in the top row, central, squeezing a sponge tightly in his fist), who after four years in charge has decided to step down to pay closer concentration on his golf handicap.

Lyons has been replaced by Paul Dyke (directly to Pete's left, above the sponge), who has recruited many new faces to the squad, all of whom will no doubt get a run out against far more illustrious opponents in the shape of Zamaretto League side Sholing, who will bring a mixture of their reserve and youth side to Burridge in back to back fixtures this Saturday morning and next Wednesday evening.

A pre-season spot check of the contents of our club kit-bag found us some way off our full quota of strip, with seven pairs of black Umbro shorts and six pairs of black socks having mysteriously disappeared over the course of last season. Making up the numbers was an as yet unclaimed pair of Next boxer shorts, along with four pairs of royal blue socks, the threadbare and sparce fabric of which looked to have seen better days. Dyke has ordered and paid for replacement shorts and socks, a replenishment of medical supplies and five brand new Mitre match-balls.

Contrary to popular belief, we are some way from being a profit making organisation, with our current funds amounting to little more than the price of a pint and a packet of crisps. Dyke will claim back the sum he has put into the club from the £5 match subscription fees charged to each player during the forthcoming pre-season friendlies, which by the time we have completed we should have some snaps of our new players to replace those who have moved on.


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...