20th August 2000
It was the year 20th August 2000, and here I was, a 5 year-old Liam Drury, walking along outside Stamford Bridge with my dad Nigel Drury. I had a scarf wrapped around my neck, a matchday programme held tightly in my hand as I held onto my dad's hand. We beeped our season tickets as we walked through the turnstiles for the first game of the season against fellow London rivals West Ham United.. The sun was out, the crowd was already singing and chanting high up in the stands as kick-off approached-surely this must have sent nerves down the spine of the players as they prepared for a long and hard season. My dad checked his watch and told me the times was 2:57pm. I smiled to myself as I was ready to watch the first ever game for REAL. I could then hear the crowd buzz and cheer as they saw their heroes step out onto the pitch. My dad grabbed me under the arms and hoisted me up onto his shoulders so I could get a better view of the pitch. I could see them all lined up there. I saw Marcel Desailly at the front of the Chelsea queue, the captain and leader of men, preparing to lead his team into battle. Behind him were players such as Gus Poyet, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Roberto Di Matteo. As Desailly, defensive partner Celestine Babayaro and goalkeeper Ed De Goey ran over to take up their places in the heart of their defence, protecting a potential lead at some point in the game, I could see the sparkle in their eyes, the hunger and passion within the players as Desailly was barking the last orders he could to his team. Then, as everyone was getting ready for the first ball to be kicked off the season, I saw Desailly clapping the fans in the stand I was in. I smiled as though he was clapping me and only me. Then it hit me...I wanted to be a professional footballer just like the players out on the pitch.
Good start, I will be following!
Griffo- Thnaks mate. Appreiciate it. This is just the start of hopefully a big adventure!
5th September 2002
I am now 7 years old. My parents, Nigel and Sara Drury, fancied a change in their lives so they have decided to move me and my brother from the bust street lights of London down to the seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare. I live on a nice road with loads of friendly neighbours who are just like my family: kind, caring and always look out for their friends.
My garden had 3 bedrooms: one for my mum and dad, one that me and my one-year-old brother shared and a spare bedroom for any guests that came to stay with us. There was always a bathroom, a kitchen, a dining room and a spacious living room where I could endulge in my favourite activities. The back garden, a spacious one mind, also had two trees aligned so whenever it was a sunny day or generally when it wasn't raining, I would do what any football-mad kid would do and have a kickabout in my back garden.
So on this particular day in Weston, the sun was still shining from late August and as I got through the door from school, a whole 1 minute walk down the road, I threw my bag down in the hallway, slipped into my trainers, changed out of my school clothes and into a Nike tracksuit, rushed into the back room overlooking the garden and grabbed my football before unlocking the door and rushing outside.
I threw the ball onto the floor, took aim and smashed the ball into the gap between the trees. Suddenly, there was a scraping noise from the fence on my left and I saw my new friend, Matt, peek over the fence. "You playing a spot of footy then Liam?". I smiled at him and laughed.n "Obviously". Matt watched as I retrieved the ball from the back of the garden and rolled it underneath one foot and control it with the other. Matt whistled as I then flicked the ball up with my left, control it on my chest and bring it down perfectly with my right.
Matt then hopped over the fence as I threw some goalkeeper gloves to him which he caught and put on. "Let's see how good you are at keeping" I said as he patted his hands together and waited for my shot. BANG. I struck the ball sweetly with my left as it flew past Matt.
Matt picked himself up from the floor as yet another shot flew past him. Matt jogged over to retrieve the ball, before flicking it up with his foot and backheeling it first-time to my feet. I controlled the ball on my chest before volleying first-time past my stranded friend. Matt shook his head at the sheer power of the shot. "Have you ever thought of playing for a team Liam?" I said "No" as Matt went to retrieve the ball yet again.
Me and Matt played long into the night. It was 8PM by the time Matt had to jump over the fence yet again and end our fun. I, however, decided to stay in the garden and practice my finishing some more. Before long, my dad decided to step out into the open and play with me. My dad took his place in goal and he proved to be a better match for me than Matt. However, I did beat him on a few occasions and it was with laughter that I did.
Me and my dad entered the house with flushed faces, panting and out of breath. My mum walked through the hallway as we stood trying to catch our breath. "What fun did you?" My dad gasped a word out that sounded like "yeah" as he took a swig of water. I instantly decided to turn to my dad as he finished. "Dad, I want to be a footballer". My dad looked at me, smiled and then handed me the football back as if to say "go on then". I was ecstatic at getting the go around to follow my dream.
3rd November 2002
It was 1PM in the afternoon and I was settled down in front of the TV with my dad. My Mum had decided to go out with some mates and I couldn't resist not watching my favourite team, Chelsea, playing on the big screen against London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Marcel Desailly was yet again captaining the Chelsea side at the heart of the defence and watching him was like watching a brick wall at the heart of the Chelsea defence.
The game was early on when Gianfranco Zola was played onside by Spurs defender Dean Richards and as Zola raced clear, he dragged his shot wide of the goal. Spurs were getting chances as well when Robbie Keane managed to steal in behind William Gallas but Keane headed well wide from Stephen Carr's cross. I was out of my seat 24 minutes in when my hero, my role model, my idol Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's shot grazed the outside of Kasey Keller's post between the Spurs sticks.
I was almost out of my seat 11 minutes later but because of a fantastic save from Carlo Cudicini after Jamie Redknapp flipped the ball up from a free-kick and volleyed a dipping volley towards goal which was palmed away by the Chelsea keeper. Keane then had another chance to score after half-time from Carr's cross, but this time he headed over.
Spurs then went into action as the second half wore on and Cudicini had to be at his best to deny a Poyet chance when 1-on-1. Cudicini then had to be at his best to tip a Teddy Sheringham volley from a corner over the bar. The last action from the match came a few minutes from time when Mario Melchiot headed against the inside of the post from a dangerous Zola free-kick.
After the game, me and my dad thought it would be a good idea to head outside into the garden and practice the chances that we had witnessed in the game with my dad tending to be the assister or keeper and me being the finisher. I managed to convert the chance Melchiot had at the end and I even scored the incredible Redknapp and Sheringham volleys. I headed inside a happy boy and my dad a happy dad as he could finally see my talent on show.
14th December 2002
It was the last day of term and I walked into the house before placing my bag down. I walked into the kitchen and could hear my mum and dad whispering in the living room. I poured myself a drink and drank it slowly while attempting to hear what my parents were speaking about. Before I knew it, I was being called into the living room by my mum.
I slowly walked into the living room before I sat down facing my parents. My mum coughed heavily before leaving the room and closing the door. My dad shuffled over to sit next to me. "Now, Liam, there's something we need to talk to you about". "What is it?" I asked politely. "Now, I don't want you to get upset but this"...
My dad took a deep breath as I stared at him intently. "Before I met your Mum, I was married to another woman. Goes by the name of Julie. And when me and her were married, we had two kids together. James and Josh. They all still live in Weston" my Dad explained. I stared at the floor as I struggled to take the news in. Even though I didn't know the words, I had two half-brothers.
I rushed upstairs and slammed the door into my bedroom. I could feel tears streaming down my face and I slinked down the wall. I buried my face into my hands as I tried to take in the news that I had 2 new brothers who could live anywhere in the sunny seaside town I was in. Then it came to me. Even though I was only 7, I had to confront my dad...
I slowly picked myself up from the floor, wiped the tears from my face with the sleeve of my school jumper and opened the door to reveal the hallway. I stepped out into the hallway and stared downstairs. I sighed deeply before heading down the stairs. Downstairs to the place where I would confront my newly found demons...
I found my dad washing dishes in the kitchen. I walked in silently and as I closed the door, he turned to look at me. "What do you want now?" he said angrily. "I want to know who and where my brother's are" I demanded. My dad threw the dish into the bowl, took off his rubber gloves and turned to look at me. "Alright, I'rr tell you" he said.
I leaned against the wall as I waited for my dad to speak. "The only reason I told you about your brothers is because one of them plays football-semi professionally". I looked at my dad as my heart began to gather speed as I waited for the reveal. "Who does he play for?" I demanded. "He plays...for Weston...
Great start dude! Good luck in the future, and keep it up!
19th March 2009
Dan left the room as me and the rest of the Weston U14's waited around for kick-off. As captain I felt it was my duty to say something. So I stood up. "Alright, lads. You all know how big this game is. You don't need reminding. If we win this, we are in with a shout for the title. I know your capable. Dan and Will both know your capable. If we stick to our tactics, we know. It's that simple. Yes, this may be an away game but it is one that we could go home with 3 points from. Now let's get out there and show them who the better team is" I said. My boys all rose as one and shouted "COME ON WESTON".
It was the 26th minute and South Glos got a corner. As the ball was floated in, Glen rose and headed the ball away from danger. I was able to bring the ball down on my chest, turn and feed Sol who was rushing down the right channel. I saw space open up in front of me as I charged forward. I called for Sol to play the ball back to me, which he did. I put the ball through a defender's legs and sprinted onto the loose ball inside the penalty area. I managed to pick my head up just in time as I reached the byline and I squared the ball for Ash, who could calmly take a touch and slot home for 1-0.
It was the 38th minute now, and Weston were continuing to attack the South Glos box. Ash collected the ball from central-midfielder Matt as he was able to turn into space. Ash had an option of either myself or Sol as they made their way forward but Ash decided to go alone and as he surged into the box, he was chopped down for a penalty and being the finisher he was, Ash took the penalty and sent the keeper the wrong way.2-0 Weston.
With 5 minutes to go until half-time, Weston earned a free-kick after Matt was chopped down out wide. I swung the ball in with my left foot and as the South Glos defender went to clear, his clearance was a poor one and Ash was able to control 10 yards out and slot in for his hat-trick before half-time.
The ref ended up blowing for half-time and we all trudged over to Dan, our manager. "I'm going to keep this short and sweet lads. Keep doing what your doing, and we've got this in the bag. Now go out there and contain our lead". We all walked off quickly and were pumped to go and win another half of football.
Weston were able to go 4 up in the 55th minute when Ash received the ball from Jay's long kick upfield, and as he appeared to send Sol too far wide at first, Sol surprised everyone when he cut in, feigned to shoot and then curl his effort into the far corner.
Weston however saw them lose their clean sheet status when I attempted to shot Ash through on goal but my pass was weak and cleared upfield. Glen misjudged the flight of the ball and as the ball soared over his head, the pacy South Glos striker got in behind and slotted in behind Jay to pull back a consolation goal.
With 14 minutes to go, South Glos got another goal back when I tracked back, like a good captain does, and blocked a cross which went out for a corner. The corner was drilled in low and as I attempted to scramble clear, my clearance was blocked by a South Glos forward and his team-mate poked home past an unfortunate Jay to give South Glos an unlikely way back into the game.
The whistle went for full-time and I trudged back to the changing rooms with my team-mates. "Ash. Congratulations on the hat-trick buddy" I said as I high-fived Ash on my way there. "Thanks captain" Ash said and he walked into the changing room. I high-fived my vice-captain and best friend Matt as he entered the changing room behind Ash. Dan then approached me, carrying his notepad. "Liam, can I have a word please?" Dan said. The man who I basically owe my career to. I smiled as Dan closed the changing room door and stood facing me in the cold, spring air...
Terrific stuff here, I am looking forward to seeing how this develops!
Griffo-Thanks mate. Trying to develop the character's backstory first.
Lewie-Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it.
I stared intently at Dan, my manager, as he was attempting to get words out of his mouth to me. Before long, he took a deep breath and spoke.
"There were scouts at the game today. Scouts from Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. And they were all watching you".
I was in shock. Scouts from top Premier League clubs were here to watch me. The captain of the Weston U14's team. And I had played poorly.
"But...I played poorly. Surely they won't want to come after me now. They're top Premier League clubs. They won't want someone like me".
"Oh, they want you, Liam. They liked the way you committed yourself today. The way you led the team. That's what big clubs like them need".
"Weston's my home, and it will always feel like home to me. I really don't want to leave here. I don't want to become unsettled".
"That's what I wanted to talk to you about, Liam. This club has missed somebody going on from the academy to great things. And there's talk amongst everyone that you could be the first".
I stared at Dan in shock, struggling to comprehend what he was telling me.
There had been scouts. Here. Today. from clubs which every kid dreams of playing for at least once in their career.
But I couldn't leave Weston. Not now. Not when there was talk of me going on to do great things with them. Weston was my home and would be for years to come.
"So, are you leaving Weston?" Dan asked as thoughts swirled around my head.
"No" I replied. "Weston have been like family to me in recent years and that's not changing".
Dan nodded his head at me and smiled. "Well, Liam, it's good knowing that you are on board with us for the foreseeable future. All the players love having you around here and you lot are so close to eachother that it would be a massive risk, even if one of you left".
I quickly agreed with Dan, and he scurried off into the changing room to congratulate the boys on their win. I lent against the wall and let out a sigh of relief.
Matt stepped out of the changing room and walked over to me. "I heard what Dan was saying. Why don't you leave? This could be the making of you".
"I don't want to leave Matt. You and the rest of the lads are like my family here. I'm the captain as well. That won't bode well if I upped sticks and left.
"But think of the opportunity you could have. You could be one of the best Liam. Your the best left winger I've played with. You will be the best one I've ever played with".
"I know, but your my vice captain and if I left, I would know the team was in very capable hands in being led by you".
"That means a lot captain. It really does. Thanks for what you just said about me. Knowing that the captain trusts me is a massive boost for somebody like me".
"Your a good player Matt. I know it, you know it, the players and management know it. Now go get changed mate".
As Matt headed into the changing room, I let out another sigh of relief as I let Matt's words sink in and I smiled to myself as I saw a guy watching, probably one of the scouts, but I decided to follow Matt into the changing room...
25th November 2010
It was a cold, wintery morning in November down in Weston-Super-Mare. My dad pulled into the carpark outside the ground. I could see the minibus carrying the away team, Arsenal Somerset, pulling into the carpark as well. I sat in the car as I saw the Arsenal team trudge behind me and my dad through the wing mirror. I smiled to myself, knowing that this was a massive game for us. My dad turned off the radio and turned to me. "You feeling alright Liam?" I looked toward my dad after he finished the question. "Course I am. I'm going out there to win a game" I replied. "That's my boy" my dad said, ruffling my hair. I was captain of the Weston U16 team. And it was my duty to lead my team to success.
I heaved my bag out of the car boot. I slammed the boot shut before my dad eventually locked the car. I checked my watch and realised we were 10 minutes early. Meet up wasn't until 10. It was currently 9:50. My dad had decided to head into the bar to get himself a drink and talk to the rest of the parents. I thought to myself 'typical father'. I smiled to myself as I saw a smartly dressed Matt climb out of his mum's car, bag in hand, and walk over towards me. "How you feeling ahead of the game Liam?" my vice-captain asked me. "I'm feeling confident, mate. It's one that we can win. What about you?" I responded. "I feel the same way as you. With our team, anything's possible" Matt exclaimed.
Me and Matt walked down the gravel path toward the changing rooms at the back of the stadium for the Junior games. Me and Matt were both dressed in a white top, black trousers, black shoes and a black tie. This was needed due to it being dress code for all the Weston players, even for the U12's. Matt pushed the door open to enter the home changing room, and enter we did. We found our manager, Dan, and coach, Will, lining the kit up on the pegs. "Morning boys" Will said. "Morning" me and Matt said at the same time. Dan walked out of the toilet room and counted the kit around the wall to make sure it was all perfect. "I'm glad your here early boys. Can you go and check the pitch for me please? We're on the training one". Will kicked us a football and me and Matt headed outside.
Me and Matt stepped foot onto the training pitch and immediately saw the pitch was fine to play on. Matt told me to 'go long' and I sprinted up towards the halfway line. Matt rolled the ball out from under his feet and hit a 50-yard pass from the byline towards my feet. I brought the ball under my control with a heel flick, chested the ball down and volleyed the ball back toward him. The ball landed directly on Matt's foot and he played the ball straight to my chest, where I brought the ball under my spell, ran 10 yards and fired the ball into the top corner.
Me and Matt re-entered the changing room to find Ash, Lewis, Jay, Kyle and Ryan sitting under their respective numbers. "You two need to see Dan to get your numbers" Will said upon our entry. Me and Matt found Dan standing in the manager's office writing down his squad list for today's game. "What numbers are we today, boss?" Matt asked as we were shown through to see him. Dan looked at his team sheet before turning towards us. "Matt, you are number 8 today. CM. I also need a word with Liam in private" Dan said. Matt left the room and I moved toward Dan. "Now, Liam, Jack is unavailable today. He's at a family event so you, being captain, I need you to play CB alongside Glen. Can you manage that?" I smiled. "Course I can".
I was in the changing room when Glen turned to me as we were putting on our training tops. "Listen, mate, how you feeling about playing CB? he asked me. "I hung my suit and tie on the pegs before answering. "I've never played CB before so it's a new experience for me but it's something that needs be done for this game". Glen continued to look at me. "It's alright to be nervous about it. I was nervous when I first played for Weston in the U12's. I was surprised at Glen's sudden insistence that I could be nervous if I wanted to. "Listen, what's the plan for CB captain? Glen asked me. I suddenly looked at the floor trying to think of something on the spot. "We defend and we defend well. Now, let's go and get ourselves warmed up" I said as I finished tying my boot laces up and stood up while Glen did the same.
Me and Glen jogged out to where Dan and Will had marked out the warm-up zone with cones. The rest of the team slowly made their way over to us and after we had all grouped together, it was down to me to lead the stretches. We ran around the pitch and then back to the warm-up activity. First up, we had to pass the ball around 4 squares while keeping ourselves warm. Then Dan removed three of the squares to leave us with one. Me, Glen, Callum, Morgan and Harry were all in bibs as we played possession. Before long it was time to head inside and get ready for the match. As Dan collected the cones in, me and Glen were in discussions about how to keep out their strikers, considering they were both small and had an eye for goal.
We got into the changing rooms and quickly changed into our Weston tops. Dan entered briskly and settled us all down. "Now, boys. I'm confident in a win here. If we play our own game, we win. It's that simple. I'm confident in this group of players for one reason. You are all outstanding players. Now, for the line up. Jay in goal. Harry at left-back. Glen and Liam as captain at centre-back. Morgan at right-back. Matt, Josh and Nathaniel as the midfield three. Ash on the left of the front three. Lewis on the right and Sol through the middle. Anyone got any questions?" Everyone stayed silent. "Let's go then" Dan said, chucking me the armband. I caught it, put it on, stood up, walked to the door and indicated for the players to stand behind me.
The referee knocked on our changing room door and we stepped out into the cold, blustery air. I looked over at the opposition captain, a big, sturdy boy who looked like their CB as well. We walked onto the pitch before shaking hands with eachother and jogging off to our positions. I straightened the armband on my arm to try and make myself look professional before being called to the centre circle with their captain. I managed to win the toss before I decided to kick the way of the win first half. I ran back to take my position alongside Glen at centre-back before telling him, Morgan and Harry to stay calm and composed when under pressure. I looked toward Dan for any final instructions. There was none and then the whistle blew. We were underway in the 3rd round of the cup.
We managed to go 1-0 up inside the first 3 minutes of the game however when Lewis whipped a ball into the box and the Arsenal defenders failed to deal with it as it hung in the air, and as the defender's jumped to get clear, they got in the way of eachother and the smaller defender, their captain, handled the ball as he was bundled over in the air. So we were awarded a penalty. There was some discussion as to who should step up to the plate, and being the leader I was, I decided that Matt should take the penalty. He didn't let me down and he drilled the penalty into the bottom corner, just out of the keeper's reach. Sol and Nathaniel went over to celebrate with Matt as I celebrated from the other end of the pitch.
We were able to double our lead 8 minutes from half-time when the ball went out for a goal-kick to Weston. Jay played the ball out to me from the kick and after I turned into space and jinked past their striker, who put in a limp challenge on me, I played the ball forward to Sol who knocked the ball down to Matt. Matt immediately flicked the ball over the head of his marker, brought the ball down and founds the support of me. I looked up instantly after getting the ball under control and played the ball in between the full-back and centre-back for the run of Ash. He crossed the ball in first time, which was shancked home by an Arsenal defender, leaving Weston 2 to the good.
However, 2 minutes before half-time, Arsenal were able to pull one back when Harry gave the ball away from a throw. Harry threw the ball in towards Matt but as he was bundled towards ground, the ref waved play on and the Arsenal central midfielder broke away with the ball. He tapped the ball to his left before being taken out by my sliding challenge. I stayed down after the challenge due to their midfielder having stood on my knee before I made the challenge. Their central midfielder received the ball back after getting back up and as he weaved around Glen and a covering Matt, the midfielder stuck the ball past Jay and into the corner. I gingerly got to my feet as we prepared for kick-off again.
We then approached added time and we were able to score once again to make our half-time lead more comfortable. I received possession from a long Arsenal ball forward and I managed to find Matt in the centre of the park. Matt spread the ball out wide to Lewis, who brought the ball down and whipped the ball in toward Sol. The Arsenal centre-back volleyed the ball clear first time and Josh picked the ball up 25 yards from goal. He attempted to play the ball into the box but his pass was blocked by the defender. Josh ran onto the loose ball and tapped the ball through into the box. Nathaniel managed to run onto the through ball, open up his body and he tapped the ball into the corner to give Weston a 3-1 lead at half-time.
The whistle blew for half-time, and being myself, I ran over to Ash, Nathaniel and Matt to celebrate them scoring the goals as I was down the other end of the pitch when they scored. Me and the rest of my team-mates were all smiles when they reached Dan on the far side of the pitch. "Well done, lads. That was a stunning half. You all played superbly. And I can't believe how well you lot are doing. Keep playing the way you are, and get out there and win another game". The rest of the team ran off to get ready for the 2nd half while Dan held me back. "How's the knee Liam?" he asked me. "It's fine, gaffer. Honestly, I can run it off". Dan patted me on the shoulder. "Alright, then. Put them to shame".
It was 10 minutes into the 2nd half when Will turned to Dan on the touchline. "Liam's out of his depth at centre-back. How about taking him off?" Dan shook his head at Will's last words. "No. How about we move Morgan to centre-back, put Josh at right-back and push Liam to centre-mid?". Will nodded his head. "Yeah. Yeah, that works". Dan then put his hands to his mouth and shouted out to his team. "MORGAN, GO CENTRE-BACK. JOSH, PUSH BACK TO RIGHT-BACK. LIAM, GO UP TO RIGHT-MID. LEWIS, COME BACK TO CENTRE-MID". As if with such sanction, the team did as was asked. But as Liam received the ball on the right, he was hacked down late and he kicked his opponent while on the floor. The Weston U16 captain was called over and shown a yellow card. It was going to be a tense 35 minutes.
5 minutes later, on the hour mark, a significant moment in the match was soon to come. I received the ball on the right wing and turned down line. I was set to take on the full-back who had scythed me down earlier. I sped past him but yet again, was challenged two-footed by the defender. This time, I was done with the defender's ruthless approach toward me, and I lost my head. I sprinted towards him and pushed him in the back before grabbing his neck. Matt attempted to pull me away but things kicked off at that point. Lewis got into a tussle with that central midfielder, who appeared to slap my mate. Jay squared up to the opposition captain before attempting to headbutt him and Ash kicked their striker in the leg. The ref blew his whistle and then whisked the players away. Due to the on pitch antics, me, Ash, Jay and Lewis were all sent off for Weston while their left-back, their central midfielder and their captain got sent off.
I was in disbelief at my sending off. 7 players had been sent off in one on-pitch brawl. I had never witnessed anything like this. I attempted to talk to the ref to try and overturn his decision for my team's sake but he was having none of it. I took my armband off and handed it to Matt, before heading over toward Dan. "Go and get showered. NOW" he said. I could tell Dan was angry. At me.
I was sat in the changing room, with my suit and tie on. Jay, Lewis and Ash had all went into the bar so they had an excuse to not speak to me. My water was everywhere at my frustration toward the ref. Suddenly, Will walked in with a blank expression on his face. "Dan wants to talk to you" Will said. I stood up, bag in hand, and I found Dam stood outside, after refusing to shake the opposition manager's hand. "What do you want, Dan?" I asked him as Matt was leading him away from the dugout. "You put another performance in like that again and you are no longer captain. Do you understand me?" Dan demanded. "Yes, gaffer" I replied and Dan headed off to the changing room. I watched as he entered the changing room and I instantly thought to myself that I couldn't do this again. I walked back to my dad's car determined to hold onto my captaincy...
Someone had a touch of aggression.. we have the future Joey Barton on our hands here!
Griffo- Or the new Lee Bowyer.
You are reading "Liam Drury: Return To The Top".