Burridge manager, Paul Dyke visited me last week. He said no to my offer of either hot or cold drink; this was not a social call – he was here to talk football. There he was, sat on my sofa, a mostly teetotal accountant, and the only person at the club with a Linked-In profile. Google helped me to discover that Greg Baker also has one, but he no longer plays for Burridge. The daily commute from Southampton to London in his job as football partnership manager at Comic Relief, convinced him to move to Islington.
In losing Greg, the club lost a clinical penalty taker. All in all, Greg converted seventeen consecutive penalties. In his absence, Justin Newman, Kristian Hewitt and Marc Judd all failed too score from the spot, which managed to convince me that Greg wasn't a complete waste of space, with a tortoise necked style heading technique completley ill suited to playing anywhere on the pitch, as I have heard people say.
In his Linked In profile, Baker, unlike Dyke, had chosen to use a picture of himself not only without a tie, but wearing a t-shirt; that's the charity sector for you. Most players in the squad are blue collar workers, and as such have little need for an online professional networking site. Yes, I am a pen-pusher, but my CV isn't really worthy of Linked-In; and, although Kev Willsher is a graphic designer, he doesn't strike me as the business networking type.
This time last year Dyke stepped into the breach to become Burridge manager, but now, a good month after the dust has settled on a satisfactory season, in which Burridge finished in fourth place of the Drew Smith Southampton League senior division, it was his chance to perform an audit on the club's performance. I wondered how he felt about ageing central midfield players who scored no goals last season.
I would have to do plenty of water carrying to justify my position in the starting eleven next season. I knew about his special little book. I've seen him use it in the West End Brewery after games, making a note of not just the goalscorers, but the arrangement of the back four if and when we had kept a clean sheet, as well as a tally of who had provided the goal assists. I didn't get many of those either. They were all marked off neatly in a tally chart in black pen in that book.
Although, curiously enough, Dyke did pick me to start in all but one game last season. I remember that one game well. It was Forest Town away. Dyke had his own way of breaking the news to me. We all remember Glen Hoddle's method of letting Paul Gascoigne know he hadn't made the twenty-two man England squad for the 1998 World Cup in France. Glenn had Kenny Gee playing the background when he called Gascoigne into his office to break the bad news. Gazza then smashed it up.
Dyke chose to take me to one side, away from the other players. He knew I had it in me to make a terrible scene - and the sight of me sobbing uncontrollably might unsettle some of the younger lads. By taking me away from the crowd he knew I would be able to dry my eyes and gather myself in the toilet cubicle, before preparing to take the linesman flag for the first-half.
It was just as well we were discussing off the field matters. Unless, of course, he was easing me into take a more active role in my other position as club bursar. He was keen to stress the importance of keeping a close eye on the books. As a grass roots football club we are not a money making organisation. All the money we bring in goes on outgoings – referee and pitch costs, training hire, medical equipment, league registration fees, and despite popular opinion, not on my utility bills.