Sunday, 13 February 2011

Paul Andrews' confession

There was no game last week and there was no game this week either; but Burridge can move alongside third placed Forest Town if they win their games in hand.


The smell came from the trunk of Kev's Ford Focus. Sweat had eaten into the nylon yellow bibs we wear in order to tell the difference between teams during our Thursday night training sessions. I had left them there last week, stuffed inside a giant black sack of club footballs, mainly because I was too cold and knackered to face the delay that chucking them into my basement locker would have on taking a long hot shower. Each layer of kit I peeled off was followed by the sound of sand lightly dusting my bedroom carpet. The sand helps drainage to the artificial pitch we train on, that our players can sometimes be heard complaining about how running on it is killing their knees. Having spent over an hour lost in a pair of skin tight cycling shorts my penis looked much like I felt - withered and hopeless.

We didn't play last Saturday. Burridge manager, Paul Dyke, text us all the night before about our scheduled opponents, Sholing Sports, not being able to get a team together. There's really only so many times a side can take the kind of 9-1 beating they got from Hare & Hounds a fortnight ago, without some players going AWOL, dreaming up new injuries that prevent them from playing, or even deciding it's about time they reconsidered their wives or girlfriends' invitation to finish redecorating the downstairs toilet. It's better to waste your time in private than on a public sports field.

First thing Burridge captain, Kev Willsher, will do when receiving a text about a postponed game is shake his head, and give the screen of his iPhone a quizzical look, as though there's an ongoing conspiracy to prevent his body and soul from completely escaping the stuffy office he spends the week doing graphic design in. Although this Saturday he, along with leading scorer Sam Schwodler and goalkeeper, Ryan Jones, was skiing in Andorra. Kev told his flat-mate, Lee Fielder, that he wasn't getting on that plane if we had league-leaders, Netley, this week. He keeps himself in shape by running along the streets of Southampton after work. He is a man who doesn't like missing football, having playing through the discomfort of injuries to his back and knee this season, but when it comes to the crunch he must love snow boarding that little bit more than he hates missing a Burridge game.

Thursday had come around again and the bibs hadn't been washed. They stayed as I had left them in the big black sack of Mitre footballs. I rested them against the fence of the training pitch at Hamble school. Marc Judd was one of the first to arrive. He gave his crotch a quick scratch, blew the last smoke from his cigarette into the night air and handed me his three quid training money. Ben Rowe leant against the fence stretching his ham-strings. “Have we bought some new footballs yet,” he asked. “Or are we still using those ones from the 1970s?” Those ones from the 1970s were a batch of Mitre, what were once considered the finest footballs around, that the club had bought in the summer. Rowe didn't mind anyone knowing that he thought they were no better than kicking rocks, as though he wanted them held partly responsible for his self proclaimed lack of form. I was pleasantly surprised that nobody with a bib asked if I'd been using cat piss for washing detergent. Rowe's excuse was a blocked nose. I couldn't speak for the others.

After training we walked to our cars with that rubber legged feeling I have become used to under Paul Dyke's management. Paul Andrews drove me home in his white van that has his name painted in a friendly red font on the slide door. “Don't know about you,” he said, "but Friday's are a write off for me after training." We stopped at a red light and he looked dead ahead in silence before saying, "gotta to go to church on Sunday." The words fell out of his mouth like he was 'fessing up to some dark secret that weighed heavy on his conscious, which in many ways he was. He is getting married next year and his girlfriend wants the wedding at a church in the sticks, so it has been necessary for Paul to grease the wheels into motion by getting up far earlier than he is accustomed to on a Sunday morning to fold his six foot plus frame into a creaking wooden pew and listen to words from the good book.

It was around 7pm on Friday and I was putting my groceries away when the I received the text from Paul Dyke. Saturday's game was off. All three pitches we had lined up to play on were waterlogged. He signed off his text with a sad face symbol and a kiss. For once Kev Willsher would be pleased.

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Madame DeFarge said...

I wonder if that's the sort of ponderings undertaken at the big clubs when the rain stops play.

Mark Sanderson said...

Well, Madame; I'm sure Ryan Giggs despairs at the size of his wrinkled old chopper after another training session in Manchester, as no doubt Frank Lampard is fretting on just where he will marry that woman off the box he is going out with.

Anonymous said...

yes kev willsher was pleased! but seriously we would have trounced wellow!

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...