Sunday, 6 March 2011

Allbrook 1-1 Burridge AFC

In which Ben Rowe's last minute goal puts a spanner in the works of the league leader's title winning campaign.

I was not prepared to invest the energy required in daring to hope for any other outcome than a scored Allbrook penalty. Time was running out and we were already losing 1-0 when the referee blew his whistle and pointed to our penalty spot. Sam Hewitt was preparing to defend a corner-kick as a consequence of stopping an Allbrook attack by heading the football safely over our crossbar. Once he realised the referee thought he had done so illegally, with his hands, the circus began.

Prior to this match, Allbrook led the league table over second placed Netley Central Reserves by means of superior goal difference. Click here to see the league tables going into this game. To my recollection, not a single Allbrook player appealed for a penalty. There were no shouts of handball from the touchline either, which spoke volumes to whether or not Sam Hewitt had used his hands, because as the game reached its climax and with only a single goal separating us, both teams demonstrated an eagerness to show off their sopranos, with loud cries of our ball, for something as seemingly inconsequential as a throw-in on the half-way line, let alone a penalty.

Sam Hewitt remonstrated with the referee, which is a mostly pointless exercise. It is inevitable that referees, much like players, are going to make mistakes, but they are not in the business of changing their minds, even if they do on occasions come to some rather baffling conclusions.

By now the referee was surrounded by a pack of my team mates. Whether or not it was the earnestness of their complaints, or that the referee just wanted to put a stop to their whining, he caved in and consulted the linesman, who in this case was the recently substituted Mark Reeves, who gave the referee his own, fairly subjective recollection of events. Although there was no question it should not have been a penalty, once one has been awarded the idea of going back on a decision is a shady practise. When the referee did so Allbrook were furious.

The only thing clear to me at this point was I had seriously underestimated our team's powers of negotiation. In terms of authority the referee had now effectively tendered his resignation; and without a strong presence to enforce the law the atmosphere turned sour.


I was relieved to hear the whistle for the end of the first-half. What little contribution I had made amounted to nothing more than a series of scuffed clearances, careless passes and most notably, a slip in our penalty area whilst defending a corner-kick which led to Allbrook taking the lead. We were fortunate not to be a goal down as early as the opening minute, when Allbrook tore through us in a quick passing motion ending with a clipped shot grazing our crossbar. As our net bulged it dawned on me just what a long afternoon we could have been in store for.

Allbrook's number five was far from complementary about our brand of football, which he described as long ball. “It's all they got,” he repeated. I took an almost immediate dislike to him, mainly, I think, because he thought he had the measure of us. What he failed to recognise was this so called only tactic of ours was causing him respiratory problems. The sight of him breathing heavily with his hands on his knees after trying to keep pace with our striking duo of Sam Schwodler and Lee Fielder was a real shot in the arm to the rest of us. They both walked off the pitch at half-time believing they could have done better with the few chances they had.


One of the opposition, a tall man with a black receding hairline and pink laces zigzagged in his white Adidas boots complained about the lack of protection the referee was giving his ankles from what he considered our continuous fouling. “What happens when we can't go to work on Monday,” he said. The seven or eight making up Allbrook's spectating contingent began laughing. “Where you working Monday, then?” The referee did eventually take his yellow card from his pocket. Sam Schwodler the guilty party after one late tackle too many.

Ben Rowe was put on as substitute. Free from the shackles of the fluorescent lime shirt, worn to each training session by the previous week's worst trainer, and fairly often by Rowe of late, he seemed to take pride in successfully winding up the man with pink laces. He did so by channelling the Kent of his teenage years; which I'm led to believe was spent dressed in tracksuit trousers tucked into white socks, whilst MCing over two-step beats in dingy nightclubs. All of which proved to be a useful grounding for a game of this sort. There was little Allbrook's goalkeeper could do about Ben Rowe's goal. Having already made two promising visits into Allbrook's penalty area, Rowe produced some eagerly awaited end product. A defender tried stopping his shot from reaching its destination with a wild swing, which sliced the ball behind him, and rather unfortunately, in the opposite direction in which his goalkeeper had already dived.

The defender stood glued to the spot with his head in his hands, reflecting on the significant contribution he had made to our equalising goal. As if this wasn't embarrassment enough, he had also shown scant regard to the dress code of royal blue shorts his team mates had adhered to so fastidiously. A yellow jersey flapped outside his pair of black baggy shorts, which served as a further, but unnecessary means of his identification. In all the commotion I hadn't noticed Dan Allen come on as substitute. He looked so vulnerable stood there trying to keep his hands warm by burying them deep within his pockets. Women of a certain age would no doubt melt at the sight of his angelic face, gather him up in a blanket and wean him back to health on a diet of warm milk. As the final whistle blew, I walked towards the changing rooms, noticing the referee behind me surrounded by yellow shirts.

The Burridge team facing Allbrook at Cutbush Lane on Saturday 5th March were:
GK:Jones, RB:S.Hewitt, CB:Hurst, CB:Willsher, LB:K.Hewitt, RM:Reeves, CM:Sanderson, CM:Wilson, LM:Judd, CF:Fielder, CF:Schwodler. (Subs: Allen, Andrews, Rowe)

Receive the latest 90 Minutes of Burridge blog post direct to your inbox by typing your email address into the navy subscription box at the foot of this page.

1 comment:

Mark Sanderson said...

Unfortunately, I have only just come to notice that a rather crucial number of sentences have been missing from this report. I have corrected this.

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...