Paul Dyke spent his Saturday afternoon alone, applying a thick coat of green paint to the Portakabin behind one of Burridge's goals. This was two weeks ago; and was not, however it may seem, part of any community service order; but instead, a conscious decision by the Burridge manager to donate his spare time in helping the football club. There have been times over the past few years when thick brambles have threatened to engulf the building, which is used to store one or two pieces of fairly inexpensive match-day equipment. Given the lengths Dyke took in painting it, one wonders what exactly is in store for the Portakabin: a tea hut, perhaps? Or maybe some form of treatment room, or gym? Or better still, a holding facility for Burridge striker Joe Hill, should he misbehave.
Burridge have continued their training for the forthcoming season with little incident, until last Saturday afternoon, when former top goal scorer, Bryn Schwodler - who was out drinking with his former colleagues in Portswood, decided to fan the flames prior to the pre-season friendly between Burridge and his new side, Hedge-End Rangers, by posting on Facebook. Alcohol may have clouded his judgement when he reacted to Sam Hewitt's teasing, with what was probably intended as nothing more than harmless fun, but the language used in his rallying call to his new team mates will do little to build relations between the two teams. As I have learnt from experience, taken out of context, words can provoke strong feelings in people. Whether or not 'little' Burridge believe they can beat Hedge-End Rangers is perhaps less pertinent than Burridge captain, Kev Willsher - who responded online. He felt Schwodler was being disrespectful to his former team. One hopes that this can all be swept to one side come match day, which is some time in mid-August, and that the game will be played out in a competitive, but sporting spirit.
Training was carried out last night in good spirits, although looking around, there were very few clues to it actually being July - muddy puddles have collected in the single lane track leading to the car-park. Further surveillance - although it would have to be extremely thorough – would uncover a rather hefty dollop of faeces. Suffering from a slightly upset stomach, no doubt aggravated further by the spicy chicken pasta from Tesco I'd eaten for lunch, I was in some serious difficulty whilst driving down Botley Road to Burridge. With the club house locked I was forced into swift and decisive action. I can at least testify that what I was resorted into doing was carried in a safe and responsible manner, in a discrete and hidden location. Once we began warming up it became apparent that it would have been quite feasible to have worn metal studded boots, such was the relatively soft going underfoot. Few chose to waste breath on conversation once Dyke put us through our paces. Ben Rowe was later welcomed to training with some light hearted abuse, having arrived and hour and a half late due to work commitments. The solitary sight of him jogging laps around the cricket pitch as we packed up and left for the evening carried with it a certain degree of sadness.
This photograph above is a rather wonderful juxtaposition of elegance and poise, demonstrated by Burridge's Mark Reeves. Notice his head is raised in awareness of both his team mates and the opposition. This helps Reeves to manipulate the game to dance to his own beat.