Sunday, 21 August 2011

Burridge AFC 1-0 Hedge-End Rangers Reserves


The majority of this blog was written between 7:52 and 8:42am with a Holiday Inn ballpoint pen on a wet Thursday morning in McDonald's car-park, Hedge-End; the morning after Burridge's narrow 1-0 pre-season win over Hedge-End Rangers reserves. You can get the very latest Burridge news by joining the club's Facebook page, which you can find by clicking here, and Twitter feed, which is here.


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"What's wrong with playing left-back?” I asked Marc Judd and Kristian Hewitt. Both have featured there at some time or another during pre-season; and as we sat in the pub, assessing our latest performance over a bowl of chips, I wanted to know why neither of them enjoy playing there.

It's boring,” shrugged Kristian. “Name me a left-back?”

Ashley Cole?” I said, as Kristian looked down into his pint. “What about Paolo Maldini?”

Kristian didn't look convinced. His oldest brother, Marcus – who had once again refereed us, offered an explanation.

They both know,” he said. Know what? I thought, as he moved forward and said, “that after left-back there's nowhere else to go.”

And there it was. Getting gradually withdrawn into a more and more defensive position was, in some people's opinion, nature's way of telling you that you were finished as a footballer.

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I had stopped off at Texaco on the way to Burridge for two packets of Airwaves gum, where I made a pact with myself to actually enjoy tonight's game. Two-and-half hours later, as Marcus Hewitt blew the final whistle, I remembered that a player's enjoyment of a game is measured by how well he plays in it. No amount of pacts in petrol station car parks was going to determine how much I enjoyed a game if I couldn't take a satisfactory throw-in.


Why? Or more importantly what was the chain of events that led this to happen?

During the game the ball soon came to symbolise a wayward stepson – few wanted it, fewer still were able to bring it under control, and pretty much everyone despised it. One of the great things about playing football is that once you're lost in a game you forget all of life's problems. Mainly because they are quickly replaced with a whole set of new ones. These problems are, admittedly, fairly superficial in comparison to paying the bills; but you try telling that to Kristian Hewitt when you've lost possession on the half-way line. In the first-half he carried on like a sales manager with a raging stomach ulcer - blaming his health on what he considered to be incompetent staff. Mark Reeves got an earful once or twice. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I could empathise with Reeves. 


(Pictured above) Hedge-End reserves manager, Rich Allan, during his days in the Burridge engine room. NB Mike's is a long-standing men's barbers in Hedge-End, Southampton.

 
Hedge-End's reserves play a couple of rungs down the Southampton League than us, (click here to see who they're up against this year), and judging by this performance it's clear they've bolstered their squad this season.  They are managed by former Burridge midfielder, Rich Allan - who very nearly opened the scoring with a half volley from the edge of the box. As he made his way back into position I saw a big smile on his face - there's life in the old dog yet, especially if there's a chance of a goal.
 
We were without both our first choice centre-backs - Kev Willsher and Ryan Hurst, who were replaced by Sam Hewitt and Dave Williams, who brought a 'take no prisoners approach' to his work. Also missing due to injury were Lee Fielder, Ben Rowe, Paul Andrews and Dan Jackson. Not that Hedge-End had it all their own way so far as team selection go. They too were smarting from the loss of former Burridge full-back, Jay Schwodler, who is on holiday in Australia.

Hedge-End will wonder how they didn't score. They created a number of chances, most notably through Kev Judd, who created three opportunities for himself; so, perhaps the sight of his older brother lining up a free-kick with his left-foot may have got under his skin. He, along with his team mates, hotly disputed the referee's decision to give us a free-kick on edge of box. 

 "It's like the referee wants them to win," said Kev, realising that his older brother, and opponent - Marc, was capable of floating the ball into the net with his left foot. The free-kick didn't get past Hedge-End's defensive wall, and it was they who had further clear chances to score. It was Dan Allen who in provided the defining moment of the game. Under the quiet demeanour and mousy fringe lurks a young man who is only ever one drink away from breaking the law.  

With Burridge goalkeeper -Jones, off his line, Dan had taken up a position on the goal line, which was crucial as a Hedge-End shot cleared Jones' reach, and would have ended up in our top corner had Dan not headed it off the line. It's highly unlikely he will be credited for any diligence or positional sense. People write the history they choose to believe in. The reasoning behind Dan's position will be many: people would rather believe he was dawdling there from Hedge-End's previous corner kick, or he was looking at the sky for clouds that looked like Cheryl Cole, or even he'd just found a good spot to eat worms.

It was Chris Pye, who was having a quiet game by his standards, who set up our winning goal ten minutes from time. He left his marker standing on the right and squared the ball for Ali Ingram to side foot the ball neatly past the goalkeeper's right. I received a text from Hedge-End's Bryn Schwodler later that evening, asking how we had got on. The final score surprised him, as he believed we would have enjoyed a more comfortable win. The win was far from comfortable, but maybe all the more beneficial as a pre-season exercise because of that.





 

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Looking back (bringing back the blog)

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