This week’s memories are provided by Stephen White who started school at Melville College before the merger with Daniel Stewart’s College. He finished his school career at Stewart’s Melville College in 1977.

“The first time I was weighed at Melville College I was 4st 3.5 lbs!  We learned tackling in the underground gym on the mats under the great tutelage of Denis Hay, a GB Olympic hockey player with a rather stern glint in him on occasion, only marginally less scary than another of our PE teachers, Bob Fleming –  I think he scared the Germans in the war! We then got let loose on Ferryfield and apparently I was a hooker. I don’t think I was in it for my mighty shove. I really wanted to get out of all that rough stuff and play in the backs. I watched a Nigerian born lad, Michael Nawuci, waltz through everybody and touch down only to have it explained to him that touching the ball down over the dead ball line meant no try.

I remember playing a match for the JC2s  (the second team in Primary 5) on the wing. My only contribution was to try and reach out for a ball on the wing on a freezing day, managing to control it at the second attempt – a knock on in those days I am afraid. We had a great strip though – black and red hoops, navy blue shorts, red socks – fashion icons we were.

The most memorable moments in those days were not on the pitch. We came in from training one Tuesday into the back changing room at Ferryfield with its pristine whitewashed walls. Only they weren’t after we had a mud fight sourced from the dirt caked round the studs of our boots. Our whole class had to write an apology to Peter Mann the groundsman. Teachers at Melville College were never backward in coming forward with the corporal punishment thing. One by one we entered the cloakroom in our P5A classroom to get belted, this time 3 on the backside. Our teacher, normally an enthusiastic fellow for this sort of thing, must have been flagging towards the end! 

Rugby got cancelled because of weather one day and we were summoned to the gym. A film had just arrived in its spool all the way from New Zealand. Black and white footage was never more exciting to watch than entire highlights of the Lions triumphant 1971 tour to New Zealand – tests and provincial matches – Gibson, John, Edwards, Bevan, Carmichael, McLaughlin, Willie John, Slattery, and Duckam – wonderful!”

2 thoughts on “School Memory – Stewart’s Melville College 1970s

  1. Hi Stephen, I too remember those teachers. I’m sure Bob Fleming, an ex commando, was the template for Jim Telfer, tho not so big! I finished at Melville in 1973. It would have been interesting to see how the character of the place changed after the merger, what did you notice? Melville was as you say rather too keen on rugby and indeed corporal punishment! But to be fair it was pretty good at encouraging all sorts of outdoor sports, and ones which could encourage self reliance such as hill walking. Not to mention cadets, I remember cadet camps at Cultybraggan near Comrie, an ex WW2 Prisoner of War camp whose comforts hadn’t changed since those WW2 days. But we enjoyed the culinary delights of the nearby Comrie chip shop on the race occasions we were allowed out. Alan Henderson.

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    1. Hi Alan – I really felt privileged having a 5/4 year split Melville vs the merged school. I missed out the later activities e.g. Cultybraggan as I wasn’t old enough but hiking is now one of my current pleasures hence requiring a new hip! I was quite surprised in recent conversation with Bryan to hear Melville was more known for its sport than its academia. We used to get spelling/fractions/dictation banged into us (literally) by Ralph Durie but I suspect there is some truth in the statement that Stewarts had more brighter people. I think they did & I in fact as a reasonably bright chap struggled in 3rd year before adjusting going forward. It was just a bigger pond & as you know Melville’s quirky building was space constrained so you pretty well bumped into everyone. Instead of 2 classes per year we had 8 houses. There were some people I had grown up with at Melville who I literally never clapped eyes on again at the new school if they were not in my class , house or sports team – new bonds were made. I can’t speak for the Stewarts side but I think the character of the merged school was an amalgam that sort of matured thanks to the efforts of all staff & pupils & by 1977 when I left I think the combination had truly come of age & has obviously gone from strength to strength since. Having moved from Gillsland Park to Melville & then the merged school the continual step up grew you as a person I feel – funnily enough I have sort of replicated that in my business career starting with S&N that grew large by acquisition but my last role was EY a global organisation of 330,000 people – that ability to adapt I believe came from these early days – some of the best memories are the early ones but maybe the achievements come when you have to compete in the larger pool & that is my life lesson for today! – Steve

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