Saturday, 13 November 2010

Burridge AFC 1-1 Forest Town

Saturday 6th November, Southampton Senior Division One, The Shed, Botley Road, Burridge

Kev Willsher told me to try and be ready for 12:20pm. His eyes are still black from getting kicked in the face during last week's game with Michelmersh. He's been lying low ever since; flicking through the sports pages of the tabloids with the lounge curtains shut tight. Strangers draw their own conclusions when they see a man with the bridge of his nose taped together. That doesn't sit well with Kev. A few weeks back he burnt a layer of flesh clean off his wrist after leaning down on his kitchen stove. Some, including himself, say it was an accident; but I have my reservations. I know he holds a grudge with his iPhone. The top of the screen is caved in. It never stood a chance against concrete. When people notice the state of his phone they ask if he's going to get it fixed. He always says no. If you're going to cross him be prepared to wear the scars. To put it simply, Kev Willsher is not a man to be fucked with. When he said try and be ready for 12:20pm, I made sure I was.

Marc Judd has his penalty kicked saved in the first half (pic by LDS)
 I like to spend Saturday mornings lying in bed listening to the cars go by outside. Today was different. It was time to get dressed and remember what money smelt like. I forgot my PIN number three weeks ago, so HSBC posted it to me in a letter. They needn't have bothered, it didn't work. No matter, I thought. So what if the contents of my kitchen cupboards amount to little more than half a bag of monkey nuts and a jar of peanut butter. A trolley load of groceries were small beans compared to putting one up Forest Town. Here was a team used to getting their own way. The Southampton Football Association have allowed them to keep the Southampton Junior Cup after they won it for the third successive year in April. No team has done that in 100 years of competition. We'd beaten them 3-2 a few weeks ago. They didn't like it and one or two of them had tickets on themselves. One even played wearing a pair of black gloves. I'd sooner wear lingerie, at least I'd get something from it.

Men in suits on the TV are calling this the age of austerity. It turned out I needed a dictionary a great deal more than a man in a suit describing the weather outside my window. Even so, less money has led to a change in our shopping habits: you've ditched Asda for Netto, toilet paper is less durable than it used to be, and things like kitchen roll are just an extravagance of the past. Just what would we do without Primark? In the case of Forest Town's goalkeeper the answer would be playing football in underpants. His green goalkeeping jersey was tucked into a pair of grey jogging pants, which drew many Burridge followers, including the injured Kristian Hewitt, into flat out laughing at him. Tracksuit bottoms have come a long way since Rocky. He wore them because he had little other choice, Sport Direct didn't exist yet. In the years since the jogging pant has come to represent not sporting endeavour, but a combination of blim holes, low quality hash and daytime TV.

Essy has words with the referee. The referee wins.
Sam Schwodler got every Forest Town player's back up when he found one of their legs to fall over. They said it was cheating. The referee said it was a penalty. When Greg Baker was around this meant a certain Burridge goal. He never missed. Sixteen straight penalties all scored. There are only two yards of green carpet that separate the front door of his flat from mine. It was the Tuesday after the Forest Town game and I was back from a run, coughing my guts up as I walked back down our corridor. There it was on the floor outside his front door, all what was left of Greg's stuff. A cardboard box filled with coat hangers. His dad was clearing out the last of Greg's stuff before he moves to London. Greg's dad used to referee our games as kids. There in the corridor we spoke about the flats' thermostat, (that neither Greg nor I have the faintest idea how to work), and the management company of the flats, Solitaire, who the fire department threatened with closing our block of flats down if they didn't fix something that could have killed us all but was never fully explained in the subsequent paperwork.

All the while I was stuck with the image of his Dad's cock. Greg had told me, with that snorting laughter of his, how he'd been flicking through his parent's holiday snaps - innocuous shots of this and that, then all of a sudden bingo, bold as brass, there it was, a photo of his Dad in his hotel room with his mouse out the house. It still raises a smile whenever I mention it to Greg, but I chose not to mention it to his Dad on this occasion. Greg has missed a lot of games due to work. Now he has finally moved to London. In his absence Justin Newman, Kristian Hewitt and now Marc Judd have all failed to score a penalty. Ten years ago Judd was playing for Bashley alongside Jimmy Case and Wade Elliott. (Click here to see Jimmy in his pomp.) Judd hit his penalty kick well enough, smacking it with his trusty left foot, but Forest Town's 'keeper dived low to his left and pushed the ball away.

It was tough luck on Martin Barnet, starting his first game for us, who headed the ball into his own net to make the score 1-1. This goal was the result of umpteen corner kicks and crosses into our penalty area, during which our every tackle on Forest Town caused them to crowd around the referee and pester him for our players to be booked. All in all a draw was probably fair. Few were happy with the temperature of the post match showers, which were described by some of our players as freezing cold. I prefer to call them bracing. They provided an invigorating experience, the perfect tonic to anyone battling with rising sap. Once we'd cleaned up we headed to The West End Brewery. They cooked us up a big plate load of beef-burgers and chips. This didn't fit with Kev Willsher's dietary requirements. Kev doesn't eat beef. He made do with a plate full of chips. I really ought to warn the chef.

Click here for the current Southampton Senior Division league tables.



Madame DeFarge said...

I wonder how you will cope with the absence of Greg? Will there be more chips to go round? Marvellous stuff btw.

Mark Sanderson said...

I don't know Madame. I will miss him as a neighbour, even though for the most part I took that for granted. The chips will always be in short supply.

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...