Once again, the weather denies Burridge's leading goalscorer the chance to get a game in, so is it time for local football leagues to be played at a different time of the year?
I had my reservations about sitting opposite Sam Schwodler in a restaurant that served Stella Artois. He has a reputation for getting lively where alcohol is concerned, often seen topping up his lager with a bottle of Smirnoff Ice. He was sat in-between his mother and Burridge midfielder, Kristian Hewitt, at Pilgrim House, a Chinese restaurant offering an all you can eat buffet, situated on Canute Road, that backs onto Southampton's eastern docks, for Bryn Schwodler and Luke Sanderson's joint birthday celebrations. I needn't have worried. Over the course of the following three hours, Schwodler provided excellent company.
Dressed stylishly in a dark blazer and scarf, which was tied neatly, under which he wore a light blue shirt beneath a thin navy sweater, an outfit which drew Hewitt in telling Sam he looked like David Essex. “Well, I thought it was posh here” replied Sam, looking momentarily self conscious as he helped himself to more noodles. Sam went onto share his insight on a wide spectrum of topics that his almost twenty-nine years have experienced, including fatherhood, plumbing, goalscoring and prison. Earlier, his eighteen month old son, Lennon, had mistaken the white walls of his flat as a blank canvass on which Sam had caught him enthusiastically drawing upon with crayon. Shouting at him to stop made Lennon cry, which Sam regretted, as much as he did picking him up to console him. “You shouldn't really do that after you tell them off,” he told me.
When asked about his short spell in prison, he spoke about the crushing boredom of being locked in a cell for all but an hour of the day. Refusing to dwell on the negative aspects of the experience he confessed to honing his pool game to such a degree he had to start letting some of the hard cases win for fear of retribution. Being voted the worst trainer by his fellow team mates on Thursday evening was still a matter for debate as far as Sam was concerned. Arriving twenty minutes late didn't help his cause, although he had warned Burridge manager, Paul Dyke, in advance, it cut no ice with the victors of the end of session six-a-side game, who cast their votes in Schwodler's favour unanimously. His reward will be to wear the fluorescent yellow jersey, that bears the name of previous winners in black marker pen, during our next training session. Whether or not previous winner, Joe Hill, has incurred the £3 fine that comes with washing it, is unclear.
The frustration at not having played since November 6th was compounded by his Dad, Pete, and oldest brother, Jay, playing that afternoon for Wildern Old Boys and Hedge-End Rangers Reserves, respectively. Both games took place at Wide Lane, over the road from Southampton airport. Pete Schwodler had his own theory on the glut of postponed matches. “They call games off too early,” he said, between sips of Stella.”Our pitch was absolutely fine.” Although Jay came on and played for half an hour, he suffered the indignity of being dropped to the substitute bench by Rich Allan, who will be best man at Jay's forthcoming wedding. On getting wind of this, Kristian Hewitt very nearly choked on his crispy duck. Hewitt had long taken rise out of Jay during many years playing alongside. Since Jay left in the summer, Hewitt has turned his attention to Marc Judd, who Hewitt can often be heard taunting, at both the training ground and the pub.
Another season hampered by wet and freezing weather will no doubt result in a last minute scramble to try and squeeze games in during the last two months of the season. This has been a familiar pattern over the past five years, when the months of December and January effectively become off season. Those with short memories can see how bad weather has disrupted Burridge's season over the last five years.
2006/2007: 5 games played between November 13th and March 11th.
2007/2008: 4 games played in December and January.
2008/2009: 4 games played in December and January.
2009/2010: 2 games played in December and January.
2010/2011: No game played since November 6th.
The solution seems simple. We can begin playing games on artificial surfaces once the weather worsens. Fleming Park, Hamble School, Southampton Sports Centre, and Wide Lane all have full size synthetic pitches. My gut feeling is that many players would be unhappy playing on all weather pitches, because both the run and bounce of the ball are completely different to that of a grass, or muddy, pitch. Therefore, is it time to beg the question for local leagues to be played during Summer? The season could be played during warmer months between March and August.
Some would say Summer is the holiday season rather than the football season, but that argument falls a little flat as a significant proportion of our team go on regular winter holidays. During the hotter months of June, July and August games could kick-off in the morning, which would also leave a larger part of the day free. There would also be the potential for regular mid-week games, that would be a more appealing prospect for casual spectators on a pleasant spring or summer evening. Most importantly, a summer season would allow teams to actually do what they really want to do - play regular games of football. Is it time to revert to a summer season?
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