11 is my lucky number, if there is such a thing. I'm not sure how that's relevant in any way but for today's Advent Calendar post I was drawn to choose Lee Burge. It may have something to do with his performance on Saturday, or indeed overall this season, but Burgey has been in tremendous form whichever way you look at it. He's finally made his mark on the side and it's been a long journey for him to get here.
I'm going to put it out there early on, he's one of the most under appreciated players to ever put on the shirt in modern times. He came through our youth academy in 2011 but didn't make his professional debut until 2014, where he forced Ryan Allsop out of the side. Then came the moment that some people still hold against him to this day, when he kicked out against Worcester and got sent off on that dark day of the FA Cup loss. That was his third ever league appearance, so he was inexperienced. Plus, some people are forgetting that it was literally 3 years ago and he's come so far since.
After tussling with Allsop for the starting shirt for the majority of the 14/15 season it looked as if he's finally made it his own ahead of the following campaign. He started off well with a penalty save at Millwall, sparking us to kick into action and go on to win 4-0. Around 10 games in he got an illness which kept him out of one game and Reice Charles-Cook took over, he impressed and then that was it, spot lost. This time through no real fault of his own.
Charles-Cook stayed in the side throughout 15/16 and into the October of 16/17, where Mark Venus chose to reintroduce Burgey. Hungry for first team opportunities, he jumped straight on the chance to shine, producing some great displays in a frankly terrible side. Still though, a clueless group thought because we were conceding a lot, it had to be the keeper and it way absolutely nothing to do with Lewis Page and Jordan Turnbull.
Our defence started to ease up toward the end of the season and by the time Mark Robins came in he actually got us playing some competent football. Perhaps his stand out performance the club came at Wembley back in April. Right at the death Oxford had a corner which was flicked on in the direction of the goal, Burgey pulled off an incredible save to keep us ahead, which about a minute later lead to us winning the Checkatrade Trophy. Had that not happened and had the ball gone in then we may not have been talking about that day in the same way.
Despite having starting offers from League One clubs and back up offers from Championship clubs, he chose to stick with us as we went down to League Two. At the start of the season his poor luck continued, as a virus gave Liam O'Brien an opportunity in the side. However a couple of mistakes later and he won the number one spot back, since then he's not looked back and played magnificently. To hold the goal at home to Forest Green against him is extremely harsh, and it angers me when people do given how great he's been.