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!”