8th December 2010
I sat in the changing room, contemplating what had happened in the game in front of me. I can't believe I had been a sub from the beginning. For the first time ever, since I had joined Weston at 10 years old, I had never been a sub before tonight.
I couldn't believe that Dan could not put his trust in the captain in a big game such as this. It was the 4th round of the cup and we had narrowly scraped through with a 3-2 score thanks to a Lewis hat-trick.
Was this Dan's way of getting back at me? For my actions in the last cup game? The game that I had been roughed up in. The game that had made me a nastier, more violent person in general. It had been the game that had made me a different person. To step up as a captain.
The game had ended an hour ago. Everyone was in the bar. Enjoying the win. Celebrating progressing further on. Suddenly, the door swung open and Will stepped through the door before closing it behind himself.
"Come on, kiddo. Don't get yourself down. It's one game that you didn't start. Your a good player. I know that your a good player. Everyone at the club knows it. The only reason Dan didn't start you is because of your actions in the last cup game".
"I admit that I lashed out. As captain, I can't be doing those sort of things. It's not right. And it's not the type of person I am. I've never been that person. I think being captain's getting to my head".
"Listen, Liam, you are the best captain I've ever seen. I wish I was like you in my Junior years at the club. I was captain for a while during my Junior years. But it got taken away away from me when someone better came along".
"That must have upset you, Will. I think I need to add something to my game though. More leadership on the pitch. I'm not vocal enough. Whenever the team need spurring on, I don't use my voice enough".
"That is true Liam. But your still a good captain. Your one of the quiet captains. The one that takes matters into his own hands and when you play well, the team play well. Now let's go and get some food".
Me and Will walked silently to the bar. When we entered the bar, we saw that all the players were eating warm pasta that the catering side of the club had dished up. I sat down to Matt and tucked into the food.
On the other side of the room, Will and Dan were having a heated discussion. "What did you say to him?" Dan asked. "I told him that he's the best captain I've ever seen. Because he started on the bench today, he's beginning to doubt his own ability as captain".
"He shouldn't be. I agree with you. He is the best captain I've ever seen. I don't know why he's suddenly began to get more aggressive on the pitch. It's not in his personality. He's usually a kind soul".
"I think their player just got to his head a bit in the last game. The way he personally targeted him. And having his knee stood on in a challenge. Being two-footed. Being tackled late. He's a tough kid. And that's why he should be a captain".
"Yeah, yeah. I agree. 2 years ago, there were scouts at a game from Liverpool, Chelsea, Man United. They were watching him. And he decided to stay with us. That's the sign of a good captain. That's why he is captain".
"I suppose. Confidence is high within the group at the moment, and by benching Liam, it almost cost us the game. That shows us how crucial he is to this group of players and this club going forwards".
One by one the players decided to filter out. The only players that were left were Lewis and Liam. Will looked at Dan and led him into the corner. "Listen, I've got a plan. Liam's a good all-round player. He can play anywhere throughout the middle so how about we train him up as a striker?"
Dan nodded his head at Will's suggestion. "I've been thinking about that as well for a long time now. I think he could do it. How about training him up as striker now?".
Will picked a football up from the bag and walked over to Liam and Lewis. "Come on then you two. Get changed into your training kit and let's train for a bit. I've got something big lined up for you" he said before heading outside, followed by myself, Lewis and Dan.
Me and Lewis jogged out of the changing room in our training kit and ran over to where Dan and Will were standing. "Right, me and Will have been thinking recently and Liam, we think your capable as playing at striker and that Lewis can play as a support striker".
Dan put some goalkeeper gloves on while Will ran around 40 yards from goal. The plan was that Will would clip the ball toward me, I would knock it down for Lewis and he would hit the ball on the half-volley.
Our first attempt was a decent one. I knocked Will's ball down to Lewis with my chest before his half-volley was tipped over the bar by Dan. With our 2nd attempt, me and Lewis tried something different. I knocked the ball down to Lewis and made a run toward goal. Lewis clipped the ball over my head and I chipped the ball over an onrushing Dan into the back of the net.
The next drill was Will playing the role of the defender and me and Lewis finding a way to score. Our first attempt was successful. Lewis ran with the ball from 35 yards as I backed into Will to try and block his sight. As Lewis got within 5 yards of me, I feinted left and then ran to Will's right before Lewis slipped the ball through Will's legs straight onto my foot. I took a touch before curling past Dan into the far corner.
The third drill was a simple one. All it had to be was Lewis curling the ball into the box and me trying to score with Will marking me. We took one attempt at the challenge and scored it. Lewis whipped a delicious ball into the box and after I lost the attention of Will, I headed home past Dan's flailing arm.
Me and Lewis then had practice taking free-kicks over a one-man wall of Will, and on 4 attempts we managed to have our shots saved by Dan.
Me, Dan, Lewis and Will then decided to head inside to the bar to talk about how we thought the session went. "So, boys, how do you feel the session went just then?" Dan asked us. "I think it went well. It's definitely improved my finishing and hopefully me and Lewis can have a successful partnership in the future" I said.
Before long, me and Lewis exited the bar and walked towards Lewis' mum's car. Me and Lewis climbed in as I thought to myself I'm going to become a striker for Weston...
5th June 2011
The Junior Premier League Cup Final
It was a warm, sunny morning down at The Woodspring Stadium this morning and I got out of my dad's car, bag in hand, and headed toward the player's entrance, pumped up for the cup final. Suddenly, Weston first-teamers all climbed out of a coach which had just pulled up outside. "Oi, Liam. Wait for us" one of them shouted. They all ran over to me in training gear and congratulated me on leading the team to success. There was Llyod Irish, Dayle Grubb, Dean Grubb, Jamie Laird, Martin Slocombe, Kayne Ingram, Jake Mawford and Sahr Kabba.
I thanked them all for turning up to the game, signed off with the steward on the gate and walked a long way down the tunnel. I still found it surreal that I was on first-name terms with the first team. I entered the changing room to find Dan and Will talking through the team sheet. "Morning, captain" Dan said as I strolled in. "What number am I wearing today then?" I chirped. Will consulted the team-sheet and pointed his pen to number 9. "Number 9, mate" Will said and I put my bag down and began to change into my training top.
Slowly, but surely, all the players filtered in and began to get ready for our last game in the U16's category before progressing onto two fine years with the U18's. Dan decided to change his pre-match ritual and read the team-sheet out before warm-up. "In goal, as always, is Jay. Left-back is Harry. Centre-Back's Glen and Jack. Right-Back Alfie. CDM Kyle. CM's Matt, Josh and Nathaniel. Behind the striker, more as a support striker, than a CAM is Lewis and up top is Liam". I looked across at Lewis, as he stared at Dan, taking in every word he said.
Dan told us to "hurry up and join them outside on the main pitch when we were ready". Dan hurried off to set up our warm-up while we all got into our training kit. We all filtered out of the changing room at near enough the same time but Will kept me and Lewis back. "You two need to be in synch today. You have to be on the same wavelength from get-go. There's not time for mistakes" he said and me and Lewis left the changing room.
Me and Lewis got to the edge of the tunnel and looked over to the biggest stand on the left. There must have been around 100 people there already and we were 45 minutes from kick-off. I applauded the crowd as I ran over to my team-mates and it was such a sensation to hear them applaud me back. The team were already going through the first drill but me and Lewis were told to go and warm Jay up in goal, so we headed toward him.
Will joined us in Jay's warm-up, and he rolled the ball toward me before I got the ball under control and curled the ball into the waiting arms of Jay. Lewis tried an attempt as well and his effort was into Jay's arms as well. Me and Lewis then played 1-2's on the edge of the area and tried to beat Jay from those situations but he was equal to most of our efforts. When Dan called us in, I struck the ball into the back of the net and me, Lewis and Jay walked off to many cheers from the crowd.
When we got into the changing room, we all changed out of our training tops and into our Weston shirts. I laced up my boots after putting my shin pads on before Dan entered with Will and settled us down. "Alright, boys. This is a massive game. This is the final of the cup. We win this and we have a massive chance of doing well. We can be known all over the country. Now get out there and win this game". We all stood up in union and all began to shout things at eachother to increase the hype level.
Me and the rest of the team walked out into the tunnel and all stood there waiting for the West Brom team. I was stood at the front and I looked behind, silently, at the rest of my team. I could hear the rocky theme tune being played over the PA system as the West Brom team lined up alongside us. I clapped the West Brom captain on the back to wish him good luck and before I knew it, the referee had indicated for us to follow him. As we stepped onto the pitch, we could hear around 1,000 fans clapping us and shouting our names.
We shook hands with all the West Brom players before jogging off to take our positions. I ran over to Dan, who had indicated for me to go over there, and Dan leaned in closer to me. "You need to get the team going from that first whistle. The moment that first whistle is blown, you need to press, you need to attack, they need to have that in their heads for the whole game. Straight up, Liam, if we go one down, you have to take control. Trust me, and do it" Dan said. I ran back off to take kick-off. As Lewis placed his foot on the ball, the ref blew the whistle and the cup final was underway.
West Brom got off to a good start in the 2nd minute when their striker weaved into space on the edge of the area and his shot from 18 yards was safely into the arms of Jay. We were the team able to break the deadlock in the 5th minute however when Kyle whipped a corner into the box. The man on the near post weakly headed away and Kyle picked the ball up. He passed the ball to Lewis in the box who layed it back off to Kyle, and his cross was headed home by Glen, who went to celebrate with an ecstatic Kyle.
In the 9th minute of the match, Matt chased their lanky defender through the middle and won the ball back before playing forward to Lewis. I attempted to distract the defenders by running the other way to free space up. Matt played to Josh, who had made his way forward, and his shot from 18 yards hit the crossbar and was collected by the keeper. A minute later, Nathaniel played Josh in down the right channel and his chip over the keeper was somehow clawed away and my follow-up shot was cleared away off the line.
In the 26th minute, West Brom got themselves back into the game when their defender shrugged me off as he advanced forward. He drilled the ball through the legs of Glen and their striker controlled the pass before slotting in past Jay. However, we were able to get back in front on 33 minutes. The ball was volleyed clear by Matt from a West Brom corner. Considering I was the only player up top, I saw Lewis sprinting forwards to support me. I flicked the ball onto him, he brought it down, rode two challenges and fired in past a despairing keeper.
During the 36th minute, Kyle headed the ball out toward Morgan. Morgan played the ball back toward Kyle, who clipped the ball over the winger's head to Morgan who brought it down. He played the ball to me in behind, but my show was palmed away by the keeper. 2 minutes later, Harry charged down the left and his cross was deflected behind for a corner. Matt jogged over to take the corner and when his corner was fired into the near post, my flicked effort towards goal was caught by the keeper.
6 minutes before half-time, me and Lewis were still pressing the defence relentlessly. As Lewis pressed their centre-back. he mishit a pass which hit Lewis' leg and fell to Nathaniel. He shifted the ball onto his left foot but his curling shot was held by the keeper. Then the whistle blew for half-time and the team all strolled off the pitch, knowing that we were only 45 minutes away from being the best U16 team in the country. The fans applauded us as we walked off and I was shining as I was ready to get my hands on the trophy.
The team got into the changing room and sat down as Dan walked in. "Right, boys, that was an excellent half by my standards. Can you hear their manager down there?" Dan said. We all stayed silent as we could hear their manager shouting at his players. "That's what I want to hear at full-time. After we've won ourselves the cup. The cup that we've deserved all season long. Now, get out there and destroy them. Do it lads. I know your all capable" Dan said and with that, we all left the changing room.
The 2nd half started with both teams passing the ball about and attempting to get into each other's heads. Around ten minutes into the second half, Dan tried to freshen things up by taking Josh off and bringing on Ryan, who would inject some pace into the midfield. 2 minutes after the change, Ryan showed what we could do by picking the ball up from defence, charging past two defenders and pulling the ball back toward me on the edge of the box where my volley was palmed away by the keeper.
A minute after my recent chance, I played the ball for Nathaniel to chase near the corner flag. Nathaniel got into a tangle of legs with the defender but managed to come out with the ball. He lifted a cross over the head of the keeper and Ryan headed home at the back post. 10 minutes after our third goal, West Brom broke forward at pace from a Weston corner and as the winger skipped around Kyle as he tried to cover for Jack, he fizzed a low ball in for the striker but as his shot beat Jay, a sliding Morgan cleared off the line to keep our two-goal lead intact.
As we approached fifteen minutes away from full-time, I received the ball on the left. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Corey and Daniel waiting to come on, so I deliberately kicked the ball. Corey replaced Jack and moved into centre-mid, with Kyle dropping back to centre-back and Matt dropping back to CDM. Daniel replaced Lewis behind me so I had a new strike partner to deal with. Corey's first contribution was to weave past a defender but get taken down and Glen's 25-yard free-kick was deflected into the hands of the keeper.
In the 84th minute, Ryan received the ball on the right wing from Daniel and he played it inside to Matt. Ryan dropped back to collect the ball from Matt again and his 20-yard shot was palmed over the bar by the West Brom keeper. I jogged over to take the corner and I waited for the players to get into the box. I drifted the ball in towards Glen, who towered above the defender and his header was palmed away before Nathaniel hooked the rebound over the bar.
We then got into the 90th minute, and I played the ball to an overlapping Glen from centre-back who ran forward and held the ball in the corner. The West Brom defender put the ball out for a Weston throw and suddenly, the ref blew for full-time. I ran over to Ryan and hugged him tightly as I celebrated our win. I then called for all the players to follow me and we all jogged over toward the fans in the main stand and applauded them for all coming out to support our U16 team.
All the players then left the pitch while the standing was put up for us to receive our medals and lift the trophy. We all changed into tops which read 'champions' on them and all lined up in the tunnel. One by one, we were all called up one by one to receive our medal. Me and Matt were left to last as we were the captain and vice-captain. Matt then walked out to collect his medal as I stood alone, waiting for the best moment of my life. Then I was called up and I received the medal. Then I took up my position at the front of the standing to lift the trophy.
As the PA announced our team and that we had won the the cup, I lifted the cup into the air as confetti flew up into the air and covered us. We passed the trophy around before running around the pitch, doing a lap of honour, and having our photos taken while doing it. I ran over to my mum and dad and thanked them for coming out to witness one of the best times of my life. As I ran around the pitch, holding the trophy with Matt, I realised that this was only the start of my football career. And that my Junior years at the club were coming to an end...
This is really well written
8th June 2011
U16 Team Meeting
The U16 team were sat in the hospitality room at The Woodspring Stadium. This was the place where parties were held, quiz night's were held here and it was generally a nice place to be at times. I remembered that we had been here only 3 days ago, celebrating our win in the U16 cup final against West Brom.
Dan and Will entered briskly but suddenly from a door to the right that had led outside to the first team pitch. Dan took a seat in front of us and smiled at us all while Will stood in the corner. "Well, boys, what a season. We've won the cup, we came 4th in the league. I couldn't have asked for anything better from you" Dan explained.
Will then stepped forward and stood next to Dan. "Dan's right, boys. We have all had an amazing season and you all deserve your time off after today. This is the last training session of the season and we need to make it count. We're not going to push you to the max but you still need to show us commitment and drive out there today".
"As Will said, you all deserve a well earned break. But after today, you all need to dome back fully refreshed because next season your going to be part of the U18's team. Depending on who we feel is worthy of a place there. Some of them might not make the cut, but that's football. If you show us you still want to be here, there's a chance you will be one of the players staying with us for the foreseeable future" Dan said.
Me and my team-mates nodded at Dan's final few words. I could feel the nerves coursing throughout my body. It was an exciting time for myself as I was about to go onto the U18's and hopefully do some special things with them.
Dan then rose from his seat and clapped his hands after he had stood. "Right, then boys. Let's all get out into the warm summer sun and let's warm down before you lot take your holiday". Dan and Will walked outside as we all stood and weaved through the chairs which were all out on the floor. When we reached the door, we all jogged out after our managers.
When we reached the training pitches, we all sent out on a jog. Except me. Dan had decided to keep me back for reasons unknown. After Dan and Will had put the cones out for some drills, Dan walked over to where I was stood. "Gaffer wants to see you in his office. Now" Dan said briefly and I walked off.
The manager's office was located at the back of the stadium. To get there, I had to walk through the tunnel, past the first team changing rooms, walk past the inside sports hall and past the secretary offices. I reached the door which had an emblazoned sign on it which read' manager' and I sighed deeply before knocking on the door.
"Come in" said the familiar voice of Craig Laird, who I had spoken to on a few occasions, and I entered the office, before closing the door calmly behind myself. Craig was on the phone to somebody and he indicated for me to sit on a leather couch which was by the window. I sat down and listened to what he was saying.
"What are you trying to say, he deliberately tried to elbow their guy in the face. Dayle Grubb had been wound up. Their guy had deliberately tried to get into his head. It was part of the tactics they were using. To get our best player sent off. Now, if you excuse me, I have a player to talk to" Craig said, and with that he put the phone down.
Craig stood up, wearing his Weston tracksuit, and strode over toward me before sitting down in a leather armchair in front of me. "Now, Liam, it has recently come to my attention that you are a talented player within the U16's. I wasn't able to watch the final in person but many of the first teamers have come to me and said I should take a look at you".
I was almost blushing at the way Craig was speaking about me. The first team had even told him how good I was. "Listen to me, Liam. I've seen footage from other teams, footage that has been recorded by our club as well. I really like the way you play. The way you lead the team, the way you make sure everyone is composed".
Craig took a short breath as he looked me up and down. "I always like the way you pass the ball, you way you are willing to run at defenders, the way you track back also. You've got great shooting boots as well and it's something you can do well. To me, I feel that you can play in every position on the pitch apart from goal".
I agreed with Craig. I felt that I could play everywhere on the pitch apart from in goal. "So, Liam, what do you feel is your best position?" I had to actually think about this question. I wasn't sure what my best position was. Finally, I threw caution to the wind. "I feel that my best position is central-midfield" I replied.
"Alright then" Craig said. He jotted this information onto a piece of paper after I had answered. "What are your best attributes?" Craig asked me. "Passing, leadership and dribbling" I replied. Craig noted this onto his piece of paper as well. "Liam, I would like you to come and train with the first team today" Craig told me. Me? A first teamer? This was a dream come true for me...
10th July 2011
I arrived at The Woodspring Stadium. It was 5:50pm. Training was due to start in 10 minutes. However, before my first ever training session with the first team, I was due to meet with Craig Laird and Mark McKeever in Craig's office.
I walked down the tunnel, past the secretary office, and knocked on the wooden door into Craig's room. I heard the familiar voice of Craig saying "come in" so I entered before placing my bag in the corner and facing Craig and assistant manager Mark.
"Mark, I would like to introduce you to the latest addition to the first team squad, Liam Drury. Liam, I would like to introduce you to my assistant manager and head coach, Mark McKeever".
I shook Mark's hand on introduction as he smiled at me. "Welcome to the team, Liam. I look forward to working with you" Mark said. "Thanks Mark. I'm looking forward to it as well" I replied.
"Also, Liam, I have decided to call up a number of your fellow U18 team-mates to help you all settle into first-team life at once. Matt, Lewis, Ash, Jay and Glen have all been invited along as well. You will all be training with Mark as well" Craig said and he indicated for me to leave his office.
Me and Mark both departed his office before walking down toward the changing room. Me and Mark entered, where he put his hand on my shoulder.
Mark got all the attention from the lads and he cleared his throat before speaking. "Right, boys, as you all know this boy next to me is the former U16 captain and U18 player Liam Drury and him along with more of his team-mates is training with us today" Mark said.
Mark then departed from the changing room, leaving me stood in front of the first teamers. Llyod Irish then stood up and shook my hand. "Welcome to the team, Liam" he said before telling all the boys to be nice to him and to welcome me and my team-mates into the squad.
Before long, all the same treatment came for Matt, Lewis, Ash, Jay and Glen. We all sat on one bench along the left side of the changing room and we all changed into our training tops, shorts, socks and boots.
Before long, Craig entered the changing room and smiled at us five as we sat there nervously. Craig then told the team to follow him out onto the training pitch before telling the new lads to sit there and wait for Mark. Before we knew it, me and my team-mates were all sat there waiting for Mark.
Around 10 minutes after the first team had left with Craig, Mark entered the room carrying a clipboard and a set of keys before indicating for us to follow him.
We did as was asked, and we followed him through the stadium toward the gym. Mark then told us to take up one cycling machine each so he could test our stamina. We were then made to each run 1 mile and see who did it the quickest.
Ash managed to finish 1st, I was able to come second, Lewis came 3rd, Matt came 4th, Glen came 5th and being a goalkeeper, Jay came last. Mark then made Jay and Glen have a go at the weights while me and Ash stretched our legs using a machine and also, Matt and Lewis attempted to build their upper body strength.
Mark was clearly a manager/coach who liked to build a player up physically, mentally and technically and that was the sort of manager/coach I liked.
Mark then took us into the meeting room where he showed us clips of how the first team like to play. He explained that him and Craig have managed to set the team up to play possession football, which is how the youth teams are being asked to play, and Mark then took us outside.
The sun was shining, and it flashed in our faces as we walked toward the training pitches behind the stadium. We walked beyond the first team training session and walked onto the 5-a-side pitches alongside them.
Mark had set up a passing exercise for us. He explained to us that we had to pass the ball diagonally within 2 touches and then move into the square to our right. We managed to pass the ball around without fail, and then Mark took us toward a full-size goal at the back of the pitch.
Mark told us all to play one-two's with eachother on the edge of the box before shooting. Whoever then had to take the shot would then be the player standing on the edge of the area.
I stood on the edge of the area first before playing a one-two with Matt. Matt managed to score his effort before we tried again. We all had 5 attempts at goal each before heading over toward the first team training session to participate in the game.
It was a 7-a-side game and me and the rest of the U18's were placed in a team with Dayle Grubb. Me, Dayle and Matt hit it off immediately in CM with our passing play and link-up with Ash and Lewis up front.
In the training game, I managed to score 2 and assist 5 as we tore the opposition apart. I walked off to the changing room where I dressed into my casual clothes and walked out of the changing room.
As I was about to leave the stadium, Llyod ran after them and stopped me. "Listen, Liam. I'm having a house warming party tonight and I was wondering if you and the U18's fancied joining me". "Yeah, I'rr be there. We will be there" I replied and I walked off to my dad's car. I then thought to myself that I was being accepted by the first team already ...
Houseeee parttyyyy ... this is going to end up like Superbad I can feel it!
11th July 2011
I was lying in bed, thinking about the time I had last night.
I could remember meeting Llyod's 15 year-old niece, and mw and her had hit it off right away. We had talked for a while. Then we went upstairs as well.
She had led me into the spare bedroom, where a double bed had been. She then planted a kiss.
I didn't stop because I liked her. I loved the touch of her long, blonde hair. And I didn't even have to mention what else had happened in the bedroom with her.
Suddenly, my phone buzzed on my bedside table and I picked up my phone and read the text.
The text was from Matt, saying: How what was that bird from last night?
I replied with: She was great. I enjoyed her company. And I enjoyed everything that happened afterwards as well.
I then got out of bed and put the same clothes on that I had on last night.
I reached inside my pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. The piece of paper read: Hey Liam. It's me, Julie, from last night. This is my number 077836877531.
I smiled to myself and entered the number into my phone before saving Julie as a contact.
I walked downstairs and poured myself a bowl of cereal before tuning into Sky Sports News. I was just reading the headlines when my phone rang.
I looked at my phone and saw it was Craig.
"Hello" I answered. "Hello, Liam, how are you today?" Craig asked me. "I'm good, thanks Craig". "Training's at 10PM this morning. I'm taking the U18's session with you lot" he said.
"Ok then, Craig. I will be there without fail" I said and I hung up the phone.
I quickly ate my cereal before heading upstairs to pack my football bag. I threw my training top, my training shorts, my boots, my trainers and my shin pads into the bag before leaving the house...
18th August 2012
Pre-Season was over for Weston-Super-Mare. I had played in 3 friendlies for us during our schedule. I had started 2 and been subbed on in 1. I had managed to score a grand total of 2 and assisted 3 in pre-season.
My reward for a solid pre-season was a place in the squad for our first pre-season game of the season vs Hayes & Yeading at The Woodspring Stadium. I was a 16-year-old about to make his debut for Weston.
I lifted my bag out of my dad's car and he told me that he would see me in a few hours. I thanked him for his support and due to the players' entrance being locked, I had to enter the tunnel by going through the bar.
I entered the bar, and there I saw a group of Weston fans standing there, drinking at the bar. They then all looked at me and one came up to me and shook my hand. "Welcome to the team, Liam. Good luck for today buddy" he said. "Thanks. I'm feeling confident of a win" I said.
I saw Llyod Irish enter the bar and he smiled and waved at me. He walked over toward me and shook the hands of the supporters. "Good luck today Llyod "they all said. "Thanks you lot" the captain replied back and he entered the tunnel as I trotted along behind him.
Me and Llyod entered the changing room to find Craig and Mark putting the kit out for us. "Good afternoon you two" Craig said upon our entry. "Good afternoon" we both replied and we sat down on the benches.
Craig told Llyod that he was to be the starting keeper for this game and he sat down in the No. 1 position. Craig then told me that I was to get a starting berth on the left wing in the No.7 position so I sat down underneath my number.
I unpacked my bag and placed my bag underneath the bench. I undid my Weston tie and unbuttoned my shirt. I carefully placed my clothes on the hangers provided and I took off my trousers.
I put my Weston shorts on and I then put on the top that we were always provided for training and warm-ups before games. I sat down on the bench so I could put my shin-pads and socks on. By the time I was lacing my boots up, the rest of the team were also getting prepared.
After I had laced my boots up, I placed my feet on the ground and placed my hands on my knees before Mark re-entered the changing room. "Come on then boys" Mark said confidently and we all followed Mark out into the gloriously sunny air to warm up before the game.
I jogged out alongside Dayle Grubb over toward our warm-up activities. Mark explained to us that we all had to get into a line of 4 and that we had to pass the ball to eachother before moving to the back of the line we passed to.
In a line, it was me, Kayne Ingram, Ben Kirk and Ashley Kington with us passing to Jamie Laird, Pete Monks, Matt Villis and Jamie Price. The exercise went fairly well, with only a few exercises going wrong.
Then, Mark made me, Kayne, Ben, Ashley, Jamie Laird and Matt wear bibs while Pete, Jamie Price, Brett Trowbridge, Nabi Diallo, Martin Slocombe and Ross Stearn were plain. Mark told us that we had to play possession football with our team and try to keep the ball from the opposition.
My team did this without fail really apart from the odd stray pass. Me and Jamie were linking up well, with one touch passing and we closed the team down by putting pressure on them.
Before long, Craig strode over to us from the sideline and called us all in. He told us all to head inside and get changed while him and Mark headed to collect in the cones. I trudged off the pitch, thinking to myself that this was my time to prove myself.
I got into the changing room and reached my No. 7 shirt. I took off my training top and put on my Weston one. I then sat down on the bench, just like the other players, as we awaited Craig and Mark to enter.
As we all sat in silence, Craig and his right-hand man entered the room and Craig pulled his tactics board into the middle of the room. "Right boys, we're playing 4-4-2 today. Llyod in goal. Jamie Laird, Matt, Pete and Jamie Price in defence. Liam, Kayne, Ben and Ashley in midfield. Chris and Nathaniel up top" Craig said.
Mark then stood up as Craig leaned against the drinks canister. "Right, keep the ball on the ground lads. This lot have some big players and are more better in the air".
"When the full-backs have the ball, the wingers need to hug the touchline and receive the ball in that area. Then they can attack the defence at pace. Midfielders, make the space. When the midfielders have the ball, the strikers have to make runs off the shoulder of the defenders" Mark said.
Craig stood up. "Right, lads. That's it from us. Now get out there and win that game for us. Start the season with a bang" Craig said.
"COME ON WESTON" we all shouted as we all stood up. Llyod exited the changing room first, wearing his captain's armband, and everyone lined up in this order: Llyod, Matt, Jamie Laird, Jamie Price, Ashley, Ben, Chris, Nathaniel, Pete, Ben and me.
We were awaiting the Hayes team now as we were all stood in the tunnel. Ben was the closest midfielder to me today, and I was in a hurried discussion with him about what to do if Ben had the ball. The plan was for me to run behind the full-back and for him to put me through.
Then, the Hayes team lined up alongside us. And then, at the back of the queue, wearing the No.2 shirt, was former Weston captain and my half-brother Josh Robbins. Josh looked at me and said "Alright brother". So my direct opponent was my half-brother. He knew I was his brother. But brother or not, that was being put aside like it had done for the last 10 years of my life...
Time to see some of that Drury aggression!
18th August 2012
We strode out onto the pitch. The gates had been shut by the stewards to allow us to walk onto the pitch without fail.
The 'Rocky' music was being played out over the PA system as we lined up on the pitch. All the spotlight was on me, making my competitive Weston debut. A club I had been with for years.
We all walked down the line of Hayes players, shaking hands with them all. I even shook the hand of my half-brother, but grimaced as I did so.
I walked over toward Craig Laird, who on exiting the changing room, had told me to go straight over toward him and Mark.
"Right, Liam, you need to attack their full-back. Be direct. When you get the ball, get at their man. Make him commit a foul. Don't pass it when one-on-one. Get at him" Craig said.
I nodded my head and jogged off toward Jamie Laird as Craig turned around to Mark and began talking to him.
"How you feeling?" Jamie asked me. "I'm feeling ready. I'm feeling confident of a win in this game" I replied.
"When I get given the ball, Craig's told me that I need to be direct when one-on-one with their full-back. When I am running at them, I need you to run along the outside of me to cause a distraction. To put their defender in two minds".
"Alright then, Liam. I trust your ability and potential. So I will do as asked" Jamie said.
The ref blew his whistle to tell us to get into position and I walked into my position, facing the Hayes right-mid, and I jumped up on the spot before staring toward the ball.
It was 5 minutes when we had our first chance. Chris won the ball on the half-way line before surging toward goal. He laid the ball off to Nathaniel whose drive was deflected for a corner.
I was passed the ball as I prepared to take the corner. I looked up and I saw the defence were all occupied with players in the box. Suddenly, I saw Ashley run toward me and I played the ball short to him.
He turned and his cross was met by the head of Jamie Price, who headed into the keeper's arms.
7 minutes after our first chance, we got ourselves another chance. I was played the ball down line by Jamie Laird. I looked up and saw Josh backing off of me.
I slowed down as I got to the edge of the area and I saw Laird making the run outside of me. I cut inside onto my right foot and I jinked past Josh but was dragged down by his standing foot.
Ben stepped up to take the free-kick but he floated his effort into the keeper.
We then had to wait 23 more minutes for our next chance. I controlled a clearance from Josh on my chest and played the ball inside to Kayne in central midfield.
He played the ball inside to Ben who cut past their defensive midfielder with a neat flick and played the ball toward Ashley along the ground.
Ashley controlled the ball before clipping the ball over the head of the defender for Nathaniel to run on to. His toe-poke was however palmed behind for a corner.
2 minutes afterwards, Matt brought a long clearance down on his chest and played toward me. Because I was backing into Josh to block his vison, I laid the ball over to Laird.
Jamie played the ball inside to Nathaniel who passed it first-time to Ben. Nathaniel dropped deeper than Ben as he ran forward but was dispossessed at the first man.
Nathaniel played the ball over the top and strike partner Craig brought it down but his stabbed shot was saved by the keeper.
I reached the rebound first and as I took it round my brother, he two-footed me from the front as I got to the byline. I immediately got back up to my feet and I pushed my brother, who then grabbed me by the face and threw me to the floor. The feuding players were separated by players from both sides, and me and Josh walked away with a warning each. But this was not the end of our feuding in this match...
18th August 2012-37 minutes
I was fuming after my own brother had two-footed me. If he had got that wrong, he would have broken my leg and that could have ended my career at such a young age.
Next time I got the ball in the 40th minute, I ran at Josh again and this time ran the ball out of play after being shoulder barged off the ball by him and being thrown to the floor.
I then received the ball again before half-time and as I tried to draw my brother into a challenge, I skinned him but ran out of play as he forced me off the ball.
I tapped my brother on the leg as I ran past and my brother deliberately flung himself to the ground to try and get me carded.
The Hayes goalkeeper sprinted over and pushed me as I pointed at Josh on the ground and made a diving action toward the referee.
The referee pulled me to one side and I tried to tell me that Josh had flung himself to the ground despite the Hayes captain trying to help his team-mate out and say I kicked him aggressively.
The ref noted me down in his book before producing the yellow card.
I walked away angrily, kicking the air, as I walked over to Josh, who had miraculously fully recovered, to mark him from the resulting goal-kick.
Josh whispered in my ear "Looks like your getting sent today then bro" and I said to him back "Not if you get sent first".
Before long, the ref blew for half-time and Llyod immediately got into a heated discussion with the referee over my yellow card.
Craig immediately told me to calm down as me, him and Mark walked across the pitch toward the tunnel. I saw the face of Josh smirking at me as I chatted to my manager and the assistant.
I jogged back toward the tunnel and walked a few paces behind my half-brother: the brother that I had rarely known or seen in my life.
I got into the tunnel and deliberately knocked into my brother. He turned around to me. "What are you doing, you little runt?" he asked me.
"How dare you speak to your brother like that" I asked him and I stood there, face to face, with Josh, sizing him up.
Craig and Mark then entered the tunnel and mark stood there, watching us as Craig headed into the changing room.
"You alright Liam?" Mark asked me as he stayed where he was. "I'm fine, Mark. I'rr be into the changing room in a minute" I replied and Mark headed into the changing room after Craig.
"You tried to break my leg" I said to Josh and he smiled at the words. "So what if I had done. You deserve it as well if it did happen" Josh said.
"And here's me thinking that you were one of the best captains this club ever had. I was wrong. Your probably the worst" I said.
I saw the veins throbbing in Josh's throat and realised this was my chance to get to him. "Your a bad player as well. Anyone could skin their way round you" I said cheekily.
Josh grabbed me by the throat and pushed me up against the wall. "How dare you, you little rat. You shouldn't even be playing for a team at this high level" Josh said.
I pushed Josh away from me and pushed him in the chest, sending him backwards. However, Josh stayed on his feet and pushed me back.
I then nudged my head toward Josh's and I could see the fear in his eyes. I slowly leaned toward him and smacked him on the side of the head.
Josh then pushed me away and aimed a punch at me. I could feel his fist make contact with the side of my head, and I staggered before finding my balance again.
Mark suddenly rushed out of the changing room at the sounds of us fighting, but was too slow to stop me from punching my brother back and from punching him in the stomach, sending him into the changing room for the away side.
"GET INTO THE CHANGING ROOM NOW" Mark demanded and I slowly staggered into the changing room. I could feel hot, red blood pouring down the side of my face and Llyod rushed over to me upon entry. "Was it their right-back that did this to you?" Llyod asked me. I slowly nodded as I sat down on the bench. Llyod nodded toward the gaffer as he took place as well and Craig began to change his half-time team talk...
Honestly a young winger would get his tail handed to him in this situation haha
Griffo- But he somehow didn't. This probably ain't the last time he gets involved in a fight either 'hint hint'
You are reading "Liam Drury: Return To The Top".