Saturday 23rd October, The Shed, Burridge
Jason Wilson's toenails glistened like a shoal of tropical fish against the brown backdrop of nylon carpet. He pulled off his Converse All-Stars, looked down at his feet, and lapsed into a momentary bout of self consciousness. To his left was our club medical bag, its plastic zipper broken long ago by the crammed contents of mostly empty cannisters of pharmaceuticals, all manufactured to mask pain, not remove nail polish. He had chosen a subtle blend of light blue and orange shades; the kind that say: I believe in the healing power of crystals.
Wilson stood in front of the showers waiting for an interrogation from his fellow players. It never came. Perhaps for fear of what answers it might dig up. So one man's attempt at injecting a little of the bohemian spirit into the dressing room was ignored. Probably for the best. It could take some time before it catches on with the likes of Sam Hewitt, who is far more at home with an Elizabeth Duke bicycle chain around his neck, than he is raiding his girlfriend's make-up drawers for blusher.
An iPod nano sat in its docking bay on the dressing room's high window sill. Despite singing about sex and drugs, Mick Jagger wasn't getting through to the younger lads, so Kristian Hewitt stuck the Rocky soundtrack on. Burridge manager, Paul Dyke, was forced into shuffling his pack. A dodgy knee sustained against Sholing prevented Ryan Hurst from playing, while Ben Rowe's hamstring tweak was a good week or so from full repair. Aztecs bought with them down the M27 a cavalier and attractive style of play, but whether or not they were worth a first-half 1-0 lead was dubious as we fluffed a slew of reasonably good goal scoring chances. The frustration at not taking any of these opportunities began spilling out in cross words between us. But just where else can you call friends useless fucking wankers at the top of your voice for missing the target? In an ever dwindling list the football pitch remains a reliable outlet for doing so.
Going up from eight to ten quid has done nothing to stop our lot incurring the Hampshire Football Association's fine for getting booked by referees. Marc Judd, Kristian Hewitt ad Sam Schwodler had all been given yellow cards for dissent, when Mark Reeves was given what he later described as the worst booking he's ever received, and a complete waste of £10. He could have given me the money and I would have washed his car, or better still darned his underpants, for the white pair with red piping he chooses to wear for football matches leave very little to the imagination, but do at least provide an ample view of the soft pink wrinkles of his scrotum.
Reeves, who my brother and I have already decided would be played by Matt Damon in Burridge the Movie, (it's all there in the eyes and the cheeks, if not the hair), got involved in a bitchy conversation with the referee. With both parties eager to get in the last word, it went something like this:
Referee: “Why don't you put a lid on it?”
Reeves: “Tell you what, why don't we both stop?”
Referee: “No, why don't you stop?”
Reeves: “Like I said, why don't we both stop?” It ended with the referee asking for Reeves' name and giving him a yellow card. In some countries this technique is called foreplay, and it certainly did Tom Hanks' character no harm in films like You Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle.
It was Reeves who took the photograph of me in this post with his smart phone. Opposition don't tend to like going near blood. The bleeding all came from an innocuous bash to head. Paul Dyke was kind enough to stick two bits of bandage up my hooter and off I went. Bleeding in sport has much the same effect of being naked in public, as my brother was in the early hours on the the rather grotty beach in Kavos seven years ago. Another holiday maker, not as liberal as our intoxicated rabble of anything-goers, was disgusted to the extent he wanted to fight my brother, who, delighted in this proposition, span his todger round and round like a propeller blade, and promptly chased the man down the beach. Nobody wants to fight the naked man.
One Hythe goal became two after a neat volley. I spared Ryan Jones the indignity of picking the ball from his own net. I could see Kristian Hewitt out the corner of my eye about to blow his top. Running around the astroturf at Hamble School on Thursday evenings now means that shooting up the slope against a two-nil deficit with twenty minutes left is not an impossible task. With the finishing line in sight, Hythe capitulated in the autumn sun. Sam Schwodler, who else, who scored his tenth goal of the season. We dashed back to half way line. Both teams asked the referee how long was left. Not long. A Hythe defender, partially blinded by panic made the mistake of hitting the ball towards his own keeper. The ball ricocheted out to Esfandiari, who guided the ball toward goal. It rolled over the unguarded line in slow motion.
Sam Schwodler now had the bit between his teeth. He sauntered past the goalkeeper and fell over. The referee ran towards him and pulled out his yellow card, Sam's second of game, followed by his red and sent Sam off. The referee got a good old earful after that. How could be certain that Sam had dived? The final whistle went to sound another spirited Burridge come back. Hythe's linesman had our sympathy, insisting that it was definite a penalty. Hythe's centre half disagreed, promising me that Schwodler had taken a dive. Taking into consideration the referee's fee, and our bookings, it was a good £75 down the swanny, but a vital point gained.
Burridge lined up in a 4-4-2 formation:
GK:Jones, LB:K.Hewitt, CB:S.Hewitt, CB:Willsher, RB: Sanderson (Allen), RM:Reeves (Barnett), CM:Wilson, CM:Esfandiari, LM: Judd, CF:Schwodler, CF:Hill (Fielder)