My game was over after the first ten minutes of play. Rather embarrassingly, I had twisted my ankle in the pre-match warm up. There were neither any opponents, nor divots in the pitch, on which to blame the injury on. I had simply changed the direction in which I was running in, when my full weight fell upon my left ankle, which I then felt slowly inflate inside my boot like the cheeks of a tuba player. It was what Marc Judd had rather philosophically described as just one of those things. He too had aggravated an injury prior to the game, although Kristian Hewitt was adamant that his hamstring strain was being used to mask the hangover he believed him to be suffering from, having spent the previous evening at a wedding reception at Ford's social club. Despite being picked in the starting line-up he would play no part in the game.
Five minutes earlier, I had been tipped off about starting the game in the centre of midfield, with strict instructions to try and break up the play of Bush Hill - the winners of the Southampton Premier League for the last three year's running. With equal measures of optimism and enthusiasm getting the better of me, I convinced myself that the problem could be run off. Although just to be sure I peeled down my sock and covered my ankle in repeated blasts of heat spray. It was now cast beneath a lilac shadow. As I recall, my one and only touch of the ball in the game came straight from kick-off, when I decided to make our attacking intentions known by spraying the ball wide to the left. So much so that the ball went out of touch, about twenty-five yards ahead of Ali Ingram.
None of my team mates seemed to find anything unusual in either my inability to get within five yards of my opposite number, or the awkward running gait that the swelling had left me with. I soon came to realise I was nothing more than a vocal passenger in the game, with no choice but to wave the white flag. Mark Reeves replaced me, with the game nicely poised at one goal each. Ben Rowe had equalised by dribbling around the goalkeeper. Although Bush Hill went into a 3-1 lead by half-time, there was little evidence of what was to come, as we had made frequent visits into the penalty area, getting behind Bush's defence and creating chances on several occasions.
I am in no position to give thorough an assessment on the second-half, as I was I sat in a heap on the floor with an ice pack tied around my ankle with a football sock. Sam Schwodler told me that he was quite happy for me to gloss over details of this game. He stood at the bar shaking his head and whispering ten-one to himself. It is not unusual for players to have angry exchanges after defeats of this magnitude. However, with the severity of this ten goal loss being uncharted territory for the vast majority of the team, it is probably yet to sink in. As a result, the post-match mood in the changing rooms was one of relative calm, although perhaps a more accurate diagnosis would be shell shock. Sam Hewitt text me later in the evening, saying he felt marginally better having watched Osasuna get trounced 8-0 by Barcelona. With manager, Paul Dyke away on holiday next week, I will be making a guest appearance in the managerial hot seat. However, my role will be restricted as a conduit for Dyke's implicit instructions and team selection. Next Saturday's home game against White Horse will provide us all with a much needed opportunity to bounce back.
3-4-3: GK: Ryan Jones, DF: Kristian Hewitt, Ryan Hurst, Sam Hewitt, RM: Dan Allen, CM: Mark Sanderson (Mark Reeves), Martyn Barnett (c), LM: Ali Ingram, CF: Ben Rowe (Paul Andrews), Chris Pye, Sam Schwodler
NB I have written about my experiences of living on the residential site of what was The Dell - Southampton FC's former home - in October's issue of When Saturday Comes Magazine, which is available in all good newsagents.