Burridge played their twentieth and final league game of the Drew Smith Southampton Football League season against Wellow.
When I turned around I saw blood on Mark Reeves' face. He'd been headbutted. I didn't see what happened; nor did the referee, but Paul Dyke and Sam Hewitt, who had, were shouting, and within seconds there was a crowd of angry players stood around the perpetrator. The referee called him over. He couldn't send him off for something he hadn't seen, and told him as much. Dyke decided to take action. "Sorry, Reevesy," he said, "you're coming off." Reeves didn't answer. He looked furious, walking off the pitch with a wad of cotton wool pressed against his nose and mouth to stop the flow of blood. Dyke was irritated Wellow hadn't done likewise. Whilst the perpetrator remained on the field of play the game threatened to turn nasty. He took Wellow's linesman to task. "You need to control your players." The linesman mumbled something back. Dyke wasn't finished, "If your lot had anything about you, you'd get him off." The linesman snapped, telling Dyke to fuck off, managing to summarise the mentality of a minority of his team-mates fairly succinctly.
|Sam Schwodler side foots goal number five past Wellow, (pic taken by Luke Sanderson).|
The player responsible for the spilt blood showed a good burst of pace to get away from Reeves, who chased after him. His heavily strapped right knee was a walking advertisement for revenge. However, the opportunity to deliver retribution never materialised, and rather than manufacture any such opportunity, we instead used the incident as a catalyst to score further goals. It was already two-nil; Marc Judd got the best out of Wellow's keeper, before giving us a first-half lead, Sam Schwodler then punished some indecisive defending with number two. By the time Schwodler got his second Wellow looked ready to go home. They stood with their hands on their hips, with no longer the energy or inclination to argue about whose fault the goal was. They have endured a miserable season, culminating in only one league win, which came by default, courtesy of Sholing Sports, who were unable to put a team out for their scheduled fixture in March. When Wellow did attack they demonstrated some woeful decision making. Both opposition centre-halves had made their way into our penalty area for a hotly anticpated free-kick on the right, which was a strike at goal so rash it resulted in our throw-in, several yards from the corner flag.
Sam Hewitt capped his season with a memorable individual goal, receiving the ball outside his penalty area, he ran the length of the field to exchange a one-two with Blayne Kinley, and with the whites of the goal posts in his sights, he had the presence of mind to compose himself with a well struck shot past Wellow's keeper. There was still time for Wellow to concede a penalty. In doing so they rediscovered their voice, complaining bitterly to the referee. He wasn't interested, perhaps subconsciously giving us the benefit of any decision since Mark Reeves' substitution. Usual penalty taker, Kristian Hewitt, allowed Sam Schwodler to complete his hat-trick, with his nineteenth goal of the season, which is a more notable achievement when you consider his wholly inappropriate choice of footwear for the entire season. Metal studded Adidas boots are ideal for the soft pitches between November and February, but serve only to give blisters on the firm pitches of the previous two months.
Sam's goal tally of nineteen is two shy of last season's top score, achieved by his brother, Bryn, who has since moved to Hedge-End, a club two miles down the road. Whether or not Hedge-End play at a higher standard of football than Burridge has been much debated in the past twelve months since Bryn's departure. Hedge-End play in the Magneta Hampshire League, which has become somewhat maligned of late, partly because it is featured so sparsely in the local newspapers, but mainly because it can be reached as easily by written application as opposed to promotion from the Southampton Premier League. Warsash Wasps successfully applied for the league after finishing fourth in our division only to drop out entirely earlier in the season. The league is also found wanting in terms of administration, with results not having been updated on the Football Association's website since last October, (click here); and although the league does have its own website, if their league table is anything to go by they have revolutionised a new points system - why else would Upham be leading the table with 92 points from 19 wins? Click here for the Hampshire League website.
Hedge-End's off the field progress has been scuppered by vandalisation to their new dug-outs. They play on a public recreation field next to an enourmous housing estate. Burridge, on the other hand, play on their own, secluded piece of land, which on the face of it, in terms of land and planning potential, is vastly superior. Unfortunatelty, Burridge's pitch does tend to hold water, meaning home games are often postponed. This has led to a somewhat nomadic existence. Many home games have tended to take place at Meadowside Leisure Centre in Whiteley, a ground thats minute changing rooms, and lack of personality, has never really felt like home. Investment is needed in the pitch's drainage, ideally from a sugar daddy from the local business community with an interest in football to match his bank balance. Until that day, Burridge players would do well to continue buying lottery tickets. Burridge now have a two month break until pre-season training begins, which will include a weigh-in for all players.
Burridge finished the season in fourth place of the Southampton senior division. Click here for the final Southampton Football League tables, and here for Burridge's results from the 2010/11 league campaign.
Burridge lined up in a 4-4-2 formation: GK:Jones, RB:S.Hewitt, CB:Willsher, CB:Hurst, LB:Wilson, RM:Reeves (Andrews), CM:Sanderson, CM:K.Hewitt, LM:Judd (Kinley), CF:Fielder, CF:Schwodler