Saturday 10 December: Bush Hill 5-1 Burridge AFC
Burridge took on the reigning Southampton League champions in the cup quarter finals with something of a personnel crisis on their hands.
We sat squeezed together in one of Green Park's dressing rooms. Paul Dyke pulled a shin pad up over his ankle strapping and toward his bandaged knee. Ben Rowe watched him from the other side of the room and said: “What? You're playing today?” Paul gave him a long look, then nodded. “I'm naming myself as second substitute.” We were missing players to injuries and work commitments: Paul Andrews, Kristian Hewitt, Marc Judd, and Dave Williams were unfit to play, Ryan Hurst was painting someones lounge for cash in hand, and Ryan Jones was plumbing somewhere. It's unusual if Paul Dyke doesn't get to the gym three times a week to work on his guns, but he hadn't played competitively for Burridge since focusing on being the first team manager a couple of years ago.
Ryan Jones was a big miss. He's our goalkeeper and goalkeepers are difficult to replace at the best of times. Dyke has lots of contacts, but in these circumstances, when it is cold and wet, that is not enough. Being on friendly terms with Peter Shilton, or having Facebook correspondence with Southampton-based England futsal goalie, Andrew Reading, is useless without the charm to sell a wet afternoon in Millbrook to whoever would provide us with a goalkeeping solution. The solution turned out to be a friend of Dyke's called Steve. It was spelt out in an approachable looking font on the mauve Halifax name tag he wore on the lapel of his suit jacket. He looked the part in Jones' green goalkeeping jersey, and he seemed confident enough, bouncing a ball up and down in the changing rooms. Of course, there was no sense in telling him that the team getting changed next door, Bush Hill - Southampton league champions for the last two years running, had put ten goals past us twelve weeks ago. He'd come to understand soon enough.
Dyke gave us a last minute pep talk: “Look. If I didn't think we could do something in this game I'd have just called it off.” Thankfully, nobody asked why he hadn't done just that. The team performance showed that the players agreed with him. Although the final score would have been more representative of the game had Chris Pye taken his three chances in front of goal. Paul Dyke had come on as substitute earlier than I imagine he would have expected. He was a straight swap for Kev Willsher: an accountant on for a graphic designer. Kev had felt his hamstring go. He tried running it off. If anything it made it worse. Like Kev, Paul takes defending seriously. He still enjoys an ending an opposition attack with a hacked clearance. We all had to make plenty of those. Sam Schwodler scored our consolation goal, but despite our efforts, which were whole hearted, we were well beaten. Dyke recognised our efforts, and did not charge us our usual five pounds match subscription fee. Rarely has a Burridge team given so much for so little.
GK: Steve, LB: Dan Allen, CB: Kev Willsher (Paul Dyke), CB: Sam Hewitt, RB: Mark Reeves, LM: Sam Schwodler, CM: Mark Sanderson, CM: Martyn Barnett, CM: Ali Ingram, (Lee Fielder) RM: Chris Pye, CF: Ben Rowe