1999: A couple of top tens and some real responsibility

Saturday 2nd January 1999

Diary Entry

FA Cup weekend. So often this is a not so unexpected day off for us Cup under-performers. An away game at Rotherham will never be described as glamorous but at least it is an easy drive up the M1 from MK and we were home by 8. It is always a good day at Rotherham. The staff there are friendly and helpful and the fans don’t get too bothered about away fans in their pubs. We went to the Moulders Rest and then to their sports club at the ground. The upstairs room was pretty busy with mostly Gasheads. We mere due to meet with Chris Stickler but he appeared to be late coming up from Birmingham.

Stephane Leoni scored just before half time. It wasn’t a great game, a 2 out of 5 rating and the drive home was pretty routine. 606 is getting more boring every week. Premiership fans moaning that their team is only fourth in the league make me sick. Tom Watt can’t see much beyond Arsenal. It has lost the fun of the Danny Baker days but it fills the time.  Went down the Albert for a quick pint. Had a chat with Aubrey about his game. Andy and Camille were in because their game against Tranmere is tomorrow. Clarkie wasn’t there but that’s not surprising as they lost at home to Kidderminster and he would be pretty grim. Didn’t hear anything on 606 about that local derby. Couldn’t be bothered with MOTD, a brandy night cap worked o.k.



Mike Pollitt, Jamie Ingledew, Paul Hurst, Darren Garner, Alan Knill, Paul Dillon, Vince Warner, Steve Thompson, Jason White, Lee Glover, Andy Roscoe. Subs Chris Sedgwick for Garner; Paul Pettinger, Trevor Berry for Glover, Martin Clark,  Andy Monkhouse


Lee Jones, Stephane Leoni, Trevor Challis, Ian Holloway, Steve Foster, David lee, Jamie Shore, Michael; Meaker, Rob Trees, Jamie Cureton, Jason Roberts. Subs Guy Ipoua for Roberts, Andy Collett, Lee Zabek, Gary Penrice, Michael Trought for Holloway

Scorer Stephane Leoni

Score 0-1

Ref Mr P. Dowd

Attendance 6,056

Photos of the game from the next programme


Some thoughts from this.

Aubrey is Aubrey Townshend, a local football referee, village cricket groundsman and player, last seen in South Africa following the England team. Andy and Camille are our good friends who follow Fulham for apparent fun.

When Ian Holloway was manager things were always interesting. He had signed some new players in the weeks before including David Lee and Mark McKeever. David Lee had played for Chelsea but ultimately didn’t do a lot for the Rovers. McKeever became a bit of a local non-league legend after an o.k. time running up and down the wing for us.

This was the middle game in a decent enough, but ultimately not exciting, cup run.

The results were:-

Round 1 Welling H Won 3-0, remarkable for being the game where Jason Roberts started scoring goals for us.

Round 2. Exeter A Drew 2-2, replay H Won 5-0

Round 3 Rotherham A Won 1-0

Round 4 Leyton Orient H Won 3-0

Round 5 Barnsley A Lost 4-1

Going off topic,

My top ten favourite league away trips based on the friendly welcome you get from away fans in nearby pubs.

  1. Leyton Orient
  2. Rotherham
  3. Rochdale
  4. Chesterfield
  5. Carlisle
  6. Accrington
  7. Brentford
  8. Torquay
  9. Southampton
  10. Bradford

As we are at it this is my least favourite places to visit where one can guarantee a friendly welcome of a different sort.

  1. Bristol City
  2. Cardiff City
  3. Swansea
  4. Leeds
  5. Burnley
  6. Swindon
  7. Leicester City
  8. Plymouth
  9. Sunderland
  10. Birmingham City

Stuff about 1999

The Interview I mentioned in the last posting was in the 5th of May this year. I had a first visit to Lealands on the 16th of June and started properly in the September. Lealands was in Luton so the post would involve an M1 commute every day.

The letter I received also had some guidelines to the post.


Looking back at this information a few things stand out.

  • For the third term in my career I was appointed by a Headteacher who was soon to leave or had, in fact, left. Roy Tebbutt retired after a term but I can safely say I didn’t push him over the proverbial edge. Janette Smith arrived as a new head while I was finding my feet. The balancing was as much by trial and sometimes error but always with some enthusiasm for getting stuck in to this job.
  • I had a few internal quibbles about being asked to set criteria under which I might work. Even now I am not sure that is the word they wanted to use. I did offer some criteria against which the success of the unit might be judged.
  • The termly reports soon became annual reviews as I was never going to repeat the same thing every term for a purely administrative purpose.
  • I was briefly a form tutor but it soon became apparent, as I had indicated very early on, that the two roles were somewhat competitive. The very nature of including pupils with a reluctance to be included involves being available to coax them to actually attend. I needed to be available to do this at the start of every day and not involved in taking a register.
  • For the second time in my teaching career a change of job involved a promotion but in reality a reduction in my salary. This happened again in my final teaching move in 2004.

The next five years were my most enjoyable years in teaching. At last I could have some control over what I teach, how I teach and under what conditions I could work. I could create an  atmosphere that supported my wishes to do something that made a difference.

The new post had very practical elements to it. We had to physically create a space. In a few weeks we converted an old P.E. changing room into class and office spaces. We had plenty of unhappy glances from other staff as we introduced comfortable seating and computers to the room for the most disaffected students. We had to appoint new staff and I was very lucky go find Swita Khan and Andrea Reid to be my initial team Soon Sue and Karen came in and we had the start of something good. To be brutally honest we had a very bumpy start with the pupils because we tried to do things very quickly. We relied on staff who were volunteered by the senior staff and some found it difficult to work in our way.

I saw my most important responsibility to be as described in  1 X) to support staff and develop INSET in strategies in behaviour management in classrooms. Some of the staff were reluctant to change, they were distrusting of the Inclusion tag and overly reliant on senior staff to provide a support mechanism. At the very first staff meeting I was given a strict four minutes to deliver my message. I made sure it was delivered to the second as some were clock watching all the way through. Significantly to me, the Deputy Head then gave a talk that mentioned the word control 8 times within his minute. The school had an atmosphere of being controlled. Lessons were very quiet, there was a rather strict disciplinary code, yet some staff were visibly reluctant to walk the corridors when the pressure was released and pupils came out between lessons and at break times. I would like to think that five years later the staff had grown up a lot and teaching was more fun and more effective. We would put as one of our long term aims to improve the school examination results. I think the inclusion policy played a big part by making staff see the students as individuals with individual needs and we gave some the tools to tackle control without using that term or needing others to offer direct support.

Chris Ginns and I had fun creating  both our physical and metaphorical space. How often can you say that in teaching? He would drop in to the centre as often as he wanted a cigarette break or a coffee. We talked long after school about the way we wanted to work and how the project was working. I would never call Chris a role model but he was far and away the best colleague and friend I had in teaching. We had to convince many people that we were right but also be prepared to accept that that wasn’t always the case. We were pretty formidable when dealing with authority figures. Very soon in proceedings we had to question whether the local authority were being realistic in wanting zero exclusions. The then chief bureaucrat was Mike Clark. He soon moved on to better things, hopefully not as a result of the mauling we gave him at that meeting.

I loved the unpredictability of the job. I also had a great sense of pride in showing off to others what we were doing. We had freedom to try things out. We had informal tea and cake sessions for parents to drop in. We did reward trips for pupils, not always appreciated by staff but in later years introduced as good practice in other parts of the school. We spent a lot of time on creating wall displays and a good teaching environment. It soon spread as we challenged others to see if it would have an impact in their class to constantly work on it. We also did the not so pleasant things of challenging pupil behaviour in the classroom. We were exposing ourselves every time we intervened because the teachers were all too ready to let the world know if you got it wrong. We did reduce exclusions, we did improve attendance in those pupils and we certainly created alternative plans for those disaffected by main stream school.

I’ve just read this back and I am a bit taken aback as to how easy it still is to get into the enthusiastic mode of those days. I must have believed in what I was doing. I wonder now whether the school still has that provision as we envisaged it. Somehow I doubt it and I won’t be going back to find out.

At home we spent most of the year getting the house how wanted it. The diary has our New Year resolution list fully crossed off with things like, fix the shed, paint the windows, kill the cat etc. The place was too big for us. We had room to spare and filled it with stuff we didn’t really need. I enjoyed getting the piano for Fiona but still haven’t learned even the basics of how to play it.


Home and piano.

 On this day

1993       Aston Villa A 1-1

1999       Rotherham A 1-0

2006       Rushden and Diamonds A 3-2

2012       Barnet A 0-2

2016       South Africa V England

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