Twenty-one, tears flowing, end of a school match. Biggest game of the season, against next door neighbours, Seel Road - chockablock full of talent, on pro club books to a man; this was Huyton, hotbed of soccer, like Livingston.
Before teacher training, I'd joined St Augustine's senior school to get experience. The head, Mr Smart, entrusted first-team soccer to me. We boasted Peter Johnson, (on Bolton's books), tricky wee Davey Hawley, (tragically fated to be one of the Hillsborough 96), but in truth, we were otherwise a team of tryers.
Every year we were slaughtered, usually double figures. I organised them, roused them, prayed. Then cried with pride. I can still hear Smart's tone in assembly: "Seel Road 2 St Augustine's 2?", voice rising at the end with prank or mistake implied.
So I have a smattering of Martin Eadie's feelings.
32-year-old Martin has been coaching for 5 or 6 years since older daughter, stylish right back Erika, caught the football bug and infected him. They typify Murieston United Football Club, proud bearers of the Scottish FA quality mark.
From its 8-pitch Bankton Mains base in Livingston, the Club runs over 20 boys' teams, 6 for girls plus fun games for under 7s. Martin's team, playing this season in a competitive 11 a side league for the first time, train for an hour and a half on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Players use other facilities too - for strengthening and conditioning, for example. Martin's philosophy is competitive - he wants the best from each girl, no less. After flying solo, this season Martin will enjoy the able voluntary assistance of Alan White, Craig Smith and Larry Masterton, each devoting some 10 hours a week to the cause.
The club receives zilch in grants so must raise all funds by its own efforts, like sponsored walks or bag packing. Fees paid by the girls just cover the basics like kits and balls. Your sponsorship or donation gratefully welcomed, dear reader!
Martin believes girls equal to boys in ability and attitude but the football culture amongst girls is infant.
However, Scotland's participation in the Women's World Cup, starting 7th of June 2019, could kickstart culture growth. I hope so. Currently, there is a quartet of girls' teams - Murieston, Linlithgow, Broxburn and Blackburn - in West Lothian but that could well soon change.
This article was suggested by a grateful Mum, Julie Grieve, whom I hereby quote: "Could you write an article on the wonderful coaches of girls at Murieston. My daughter started last year and today their U13 team won the league for the second successive year. They have given my daughter a feeling of inclusion with regular training and matches something to focus on and a sense of achievement. They do a great job for this community and never miss a training session or match.
It takes a lot of time and skill to develop the girls. I'd love to see this fantastic club getting the recognition they deserve."
Bravo Martin and volunteer coaches everywhere.
Published in Konect February 2019
Author: David Levin