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.