How to avoid being kicked into touch
In one game this year, Steve thrilled his fans by scoring two hat-tricks, followed by five goals in another game.
The following incident emanates from an away match at the mighty Harrow Borough Stadium. Steve, always capable of looking after himself, was having a torrid afternoon; centre-backs in the Diadora Premier League take no prisoners.
Early in the second half, it was obvious that the referee had left his white stick at home. Steve uttered a couple of words under his breath that were scarcely audible to any of the sparse crowd.
Suddenly a figure lurched against the rails between daughter Laura and myself, and shouted at our nearby hero. "Language, Mr Clark. I hope that none of your pupils are listening!" To the cries from the crowd of "Who is that wally?" and "Mr Clark's pupils could probably teach him a few words", the Gordon Brittas of the touchline picked up his briefcase and strode away.
As the crowd returned to the spectacle on the pitch, I watched the departing figure with a mixture of interest and amusement, later replaced with suspicion. Burberry coat, leather gloves, clipboard, fleeting visit, not particularly streetwise? And that briefcaseIat a football match? Hold on a minute, this had all the hallmarks of a classic OFSTED inspector.
Rumours had been abounding here about an extension of the present OFSTED search warrants to include evenings and weekends. Obviously the pilot scheme had reached our centre-forward's school in deepest Hertfordshire and here was a Saturday afternoon manifestation of the new scheme.
So what's the match plan for teachers faced with this extra occupational hazard?
Certainly from the kick-off, take the game to the opposition and welcome the inspector with open arms into your household. If your inspection is in January or February, keep the Christmas tree and a few presents in the living room; the inspector can't fail to be impressed by someone who is already organised for next Christmas.
Although the inspector will want a room to himself, don't banish him to the shed at the top of the garden; he won't like it, and good reports are hard to write when you're suffering from frostbite.
To avoid the red sending-off or yellow warning cards, make sure that all your documentation is up to date. This includes all your family workschemes for the coming year: include all the finest detail, such as differentiated sand castle building on the beach during your holiday, and how you will assess the November 5 bonfire, fuelled by all those old national curriculum folders.
Carry out a time management plan for your household, delegating jobs; your family will send you to Coventry, and consider you a case for certification, but it will go down a bomb with the inspectorI And last, how do you end up scoring more goals than the opposition? The secret here is to make your whole weekend cross-curricular.
A visit to the Science Museum could get the weekend off to a good start, but be warned that OFSTED is getting wise to the quick tube change at Russell Square whereby you lose the inspector for the remainder of the day.
The clever OFSTEDee will always have time for including modern languages, so if you have a referee who gives a decision with which you don't agree, you can curse him in German or Swahili. It's unlikely that your inspector will understand.
Footnote: Five minutes from the end of the Harrow match, our Steve got sent off for the first time in his life. It only goes to support the view that there is a negative correlation between observations and performance..
Trevor Hones is head of department at Nicholas Breakspear School, St Albans, Hertfordshire