I NEVER met Marc Burrows, but I spoke to him on the phone just a couple of weeks ago.

It’s amazing how little you feel you know someone despite reading and writing about their exploits in the sporting arena week after week – no matter how small that arena may be.

But in just a couple of 10-minute telephone calls, I could already tell that Marc Burrows was someone I was really going to like.

Polite, articulate, funny, good looking to the point of real envy and with an amazing outlook despite being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer less than a month earlier, Burrows’s enthusiasm for football and Christchurch FC was infectious.

Of course, the sports desk lads at the Echo (myself included) were more than aware of his talents as a striker in the Wessex League.

You’d only have to listen to Priory gaffer Graham Kemp waxing lyrical on a Sunday afternoon after a victory to know that ‘Buzz’ was a real hotshot in front of goal.

But the sad thing for many sports writers is we never truly get to know people like Marc Burrows until they have gone.

That’s when you call the players, the manager and read the Internet forums to find out more – and what I found on Tuesday was that Burrows was genuine, honest, devoted both to his family and his football and determined to not let cancer beat him at the age of 30.

When we spoke last month, he asked me not to mention the “c word” in the story I was writing about his illness and how he felt about Priory’s stunning run in the FA Vase this season.

He said he didn’t want people to treat him any differently just because he had cancer and that he felt the stigma attached to the word would see them treading on egg shells around him.

I don’t think he need have worried based on the outpouring of emotion following his death on Monday.

Priory skipper Dan Crutchley wrote on the Christchurch FC forum: “He has been chosen early by God and been taken away from us, which is so sad. In football he will never be forgotten by all those who have had the privilege to play with him, manage him or just watch him play. He will also leave a big gap in many people’s lives.”

Chairman Mick Ryan added: “Buzz, you have been taken from us far too soon, mate. We will always remember you for what you were – the very best. Getting you to sign for Chrischurch FC took me two years. I am so glad I didn’t give up trying. The last two years gave us all time to really know you. As I knew you would be, you have been a genuine CFC player. You never, ever let me or the rest of us down. You were our own little gem and won’t ever be forgotten by all that loved you.”

Kemp’s shattered young side must now turn their attentions to this afternoon’s Vase fifth round tie at Chalfont St Peter.

What a fitting tribute to Burrows it would be if they were able to move one step closer to Wembley less than a week after his death.

His work ethic, dedication and determination to play football again was such that he completed a three-mile run last weekend and pleaded with Kemp to keep a bench place warm for him in the quarter-finals!

But even if their Vase charge does come to an end in Buckinghamshire today, Burrows won’t mind as long as his boys try their hearts out – and you know they will do that and so much more in his memory.

He’ll also know that no matter what happens today, Christchurch Football Club and all of his heartbroken team-mates will do whatever they can for the Burrows family and his fiancée Claire.

Because that’s exactly what people like Marc Burrows would do.

For any readers who are members of the Facebook social networking website, there is a tribute group to Marc Burrows. Log on to facebook.com and search for the RIP Buzz group.


JUST when you thought it was safe to go back inside Dean Court, someone shouts “Oh no it isn’t!”.

Improved performances and some shrewd signings from rookie boss Eddie Howe had seen a rare wave of optimism sweep through the corridors of the stadium in recent weeks.

But Cherries wouldn’t be Cherries without some kind of pantomime and, hey presto, along it came with a winding-up petition and the return of some faces from the recent past.

For me, ‘embarrassing’ is no longer the word and my message for the last man standing at Dean Court, Alastair Saverimutto, is: Deliver, or give up and walk away.

There’s no shame in admitting to failure as long as you have tried and I believe Savi has tried to do his best.

But it isn’t good enough and if he wants to avoid being tarred with the same brush as so many before him, he’d be better off slipping away without so much as a murmur about blue sky thinking or geo-targeting within the inner sanctum of AFCB.

As for the aforementioned faces, I think the time has come for you to show the long-suffering supporters that you mean business. This shambles has gone on long enough and they deserve nothing less.