Leyton Orient midfielder Bradley Pritchard talks us through his football memories.
First game you watched live? It was a Crystal Palace game at Selhurst Park in the 1995-96 season. We got free tickets at my school and I remember it being 0-0 and so boring. I thought ‘How can people watch this every week’? I think the fact I can’t remember who they were playing shows how terrible the match was!
First football hero?
When I was growing up in Zimbabwe, my dad, Columbus, played for one of the local teams – Belgravia Sports Club – and he would take me into the dressing room, so I was surrounded by football. I was young, so I looked up to my dad in awe, but apart from him it was probably Paul Scholes. Scholes played differently to every other English midfielder – a small guy excelling in a big guy’s environment.
First pair of boots?
Black Mitres. I was roped into a game at the last minute for a friend’s team and I didn’t have a pair, so I went to the local shop with my mum to buy some about an hour before the game. I was size six at the time, which they didn’t have, so I had to get a seven and tie the laces all the way round the boot so they didn’t fall off – it was ridiculous. When I turned up, everyone had coloured boots but I was there in my black ones – so I got a pair of red ones a couple of weeks later. First kit? I got the Manchester United kit they wore in the 1994 FA Cup final against Chelsea. It was the one with the drawstrings on the collar and I remember Mark Hughes wearing it. In Zimbabwe people only supported the biggest teams, so it was always going to be a Man Utd or Liverpool kit.
First professional game?
I played a lot in Non-League, but my professional debut was for Charlton against Bournemouth at The Valley in August 2011. I came off the bench with about five minutes to go when we were 3-0 up. I touched the ball twice and then I got a stitch! We were comfortably ahead, so I thought I’d run about a lot to try to make an impression and somehow ended up getting a stitch – it wasn’t a great start.
First professional goal?
I scored the fourth in a 4-0 win over Halifax in the FA Cup for Charlton. The game was already won, but I celebrated like crazy – the rest of my team-mates were just jogging back to the centre circle because we were so far ahead but I went for it as if I’d just scored the winner in the final.
First red card?
It was in my last season at Charlton against Bournemouth after they’d just been promoted to the Championship. It was a straight red. Basically I just mistimed a tackled. I felt so bad and I remember the manager, Chris Powell, asking me in the changing room afterwards if I’d caught the guy? There was that moment where I thought ‘Should I just lie and say no – it would probably be easier if I lie’. I told the truth that I did catch him – I wasn’t really much of a tackler and the replays clearly showed I caught the guy.