|Teachers take bragging rights in Newbattle encounter|
Newbattle High School Staff vs Newbattle HS 5th/6th Year Select
Author: Liam Porteous, English teacher at Newbattle HS
This fixture was originally supposed to be the return leg against Portobello but clearly their players didn’t fancy a trip to the other side of the bypass, to attempt to turn around the 6-0 defeat they had experienced in the opening game of the season. I honestly couldn’t blame them as most teams would admit to feeling a little intimidated by the school’s core values that adorn the cage surrounding the Astroturf (especially “Humour”). That and the constant menace of regular loose canon pupils that occasionally turn up to watch the staff toil away, mean that our home games are a cauldron that away sides struggle to deal with. However whilst Joe Moore had managed to work wonders to arrange a fixture at all, our opponents were a very tricky proposition - a 5th and 6th year pupils select (pictured right, after their LSFA Senior Cup victory).
Most of Newbattle’s pupils spend every lunchtime on the astros and many train regularly enough to know every single inch of the turf. Whilst teachers tend to shelter from hostile weather in warm classrooms, which unless you are in the Music Department tend to be water proof, pupils have no problem with standing stubbornly in torrential gales that threaten to disintegrate every paper based item in their school bags. Pupils also tend to have faster metabolisms that haven’t yet given in to the twin barrage of the bite site fast food counter and the junk food that takes up roughly 80% of Trenches’ shelving units, so have better fitness levels than teachers. Most worrying is the fact that while pupils don’t seem to remember anything academic, they never forget moments when they better their teachers, especially on the football field. Therefore it was a match where we were arguably underdogs, but one that we had to win.
Joe Moore acknowledged the potential dangers of the pupil side and had devised a plan possibly as a result of a “Charlotte’s Web” style encounter at the Royal Highland show earlier that day. The plan was to sit deep to minimise the pace of the pupils and hit them on the counter attack. Some players doubted this tactic but Joe Moore had an inflated and unshakable confidence in his own ability to pull off the impossible not seen since Mick Hucknell’s womanising peak in the 1990s.
As kick off approached there was a level of excitement amongst the pupils not seen since a Mr Walsh cover lesson. The game started as expected with the pupils showing lots of movement and slick passing, but the Newbattle defence looked strong and the hard working midfield of Steven Wright, Mark Baxter and Kelvin McEwen were able to snuff out attacks and break up play. It was very fitting to see Mark and Kelvin at the top of their footballing powers in what was their final staff football match. Eventually we started to show more as an attacking threat and like the much maligned but effective Greek football team scored from a set piece as John Lowe turned a Mark Baxter corner into the bottom corner with a crisp volley. This breathed confidence into the team and after he had come close with a long range effort which clipped the bar, Davie Stewardson latched onto a throughball and slotted the ball past the hapless Scott Duncanson to give us a 2-0 lead for half time.
Half Time: Newbattle High School Staff 2-0 Newbattle HS 5th/6th Year Select
The tactic for the second half was to play a similar system and look to embarrass the pupils at every opportunity. Pleasingly, we managed to do this, as the second half contained more champagne moments than a “Made in Chelsea” episode. Our players showed composure and quick feet to evade challenges and frustrate the opposition. It was particularly satisfying to see teachers such as Ross Thomson and Colin Inverarity making fools out of our younger opposition.
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing as the pupils put on the speedy Nick Scott who spurned their best chance when he put a close range header wide of the goal. The same player was almost through the defence again later but was denied by a savage and cynical foul by defensive adonis, Liam Porteous. Nick Scott had recently failed to do his first Higher English piece of homework and Porteous relished being able to administer his own form of revenge. If Carlsberg did homework letters…
With the game already won, the pupils did manage to score a consolation goal before moments later Leith property tycoon and referee, Mark Davidson, blew up for the end of the game. It was a richly deserved victory with strong performances throughout the team. It was an especially satisfying victory after 3 defeats in a row and set the team up nicely for our end of season night out.
A massive thank you to; Joe Moore for organising another excellent season; the squad members for turning up every week and playing the games with enthusiasm and great spirit; Home Economics for washing the kit every week; whoever put the comedy items into our kit bag before this match; and to Mark Baxter and Kelvin McEwen for their men of the match display and wonderful contributions to staff football over many seasons. And finally….
Dylan Smith, Jack Morrison, Pupil Voice, Dale Golder, Thomas “TT” Thomson, John Frame… Your boys took one hell of a beating.
Full Time: Newbattle High School Staff 2-1 Newbattle HS 5th/6th Year Select