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.
“When I reached sixth year I was selected as a first-choice centre in the 1st XV for the whole season and only missed one match, a defeat to Fettes due to injury. We were a good side on our day but too many times didn’t do ourselves justice much to Paul Caton’s frustration. Late in the season I remember a particularly elusive win against Glenalmond at Inverleith when I had a good game against Ricky Gordon, their hard-as-nails centre.
A few of us were gunning for the game at Goldenacre against Heriot’s. This was a golden time for schoolboy rugby and there was a lot of hype about the Heriot’s side. According to the Scotsman this was the best Heriot’s team ever and probably the best Scottish schoolboy side in living memory, likely to go undefeated throughout the season.
And so we ran out on a sunny October day in front of a huge crowd of about 3000 people against the all-conquering Heriot’s team. In the very first minute of the game up in their 25 I misjudged a tackle on their centre Bill Riddell who went on a 50 yard run before thankfully some desperate defending snuffed their attack out. It would be over an hour later when the aforementioned Bill was penalised for not releasing after my tackle. The dulcet tones of our English teacher Tom Fraser, a loyal and regular supporter, rang out saying ‘Well tackled Stevie White – AGAIN!’
Everyone in our side was ferocious in everything we did and despite going behind early we roared back. Our forwards were magnificent. I shovelled the ball regularly from outside centre and eventually we twice created only a minor overlap and David Watson, who I was at primary school with in Melville days, scored 2 identikit tries in the right corner. Johnny Mackenzie converted both and we stormed home 16-10!
There are some days of your life you wouldn’t mind doing again – this was exciting and after the match ended our Assistant Coach Gilbert Parkhouse came into our jubilant upstairs changing room in the Goldenacre stand and in his famous Welsh lisp said ‘Jolly well played, chaps!’ A man of few words I think he was rather proud.
I was selected for Edinburgh Schools the following Wednesday, standing in for an injured David Johnston. I scored a rare try in the pouring rain at Hughenden. However, due to an inspired performance by the Glasgow fly-half, Edinburgh schools suffered their first defeat in 22 games so my moment of glory was short-lived.
As an aside I also signed off on my school sporting career in the summer of 1977 at Goldenacre. It was an Under 14/16/18 athletics competition and neither Stewart’s or Melville had defeated Heriots since 1949. We were now Stewart’s Melville! I ran two great races at 800m and 1500m, breaking the school record and whupping their top runner twice in an afternoon. I felt a bit like Steve Ovett my hero coming off the bend in the 1500m knowing I had broken his heart in the 800m two hours earlier. Mind you he didn’t do mine much good in the earlier race as the stop watch announcer shouted 54, then 55 seconds through the bell. I thought I was going to die as we went for the second lap but 600m was that guy’s best distance and I outlasted him!
Our Athletics coach Philip Waine even bought us a beer at House on the Hill at Blackhall before we turned up with the news of our triumph at a meeting of prefects in Ravelston in the lovely sunlit garden of Robin Morgan. the fairly recently-installed Principal – another great day.
We all had our different outlets at school. In my case rugby, and occasionally cricket and athletics, gave me some wonderful moments. We never wanted to let anyone down and we always gave of our best.”