Pupils I'll never forget

5th December 2003 at 00:00
Bob Eastwood got a huge kick out of a football-crazy primary pupil

Nigel Jowers was a Year 4 pupil at Ayresome Park junior school, Middlesbrough, between 1977 and 1978. He was an ordinary lad with a perky sort of face that was always scrubbed clean. He didn't seek attention, but he worked hard. He always gave of his best. And he had nothing, absolutely nothing - except the love of his family.

He was the youngest of nine children: six boys and three girls. They lived in Kensington Road, which had once been home to solicitors and doctors; in Nigel's day it was housing for poor families.

Nigel was a good footballer, which counted for a lot at Ayresome Park. The old Middlesbrough ground was nearby; football was part of our daily life.

Last week I met him again. I'd got a local firm of welders to mend the railings, and the driver came over and said, "I've got one of your former pupils here. You won't recognise him."

But of course I did. We shook hands and over a coffee he told me about himself. He was married, and he had a house and a mortgage and a boy of six and a girl of three. I asked him what he liked best at school. "Football," he said. "I played 13 games that year, out of 26. I scored twice and I was man of the match twice."

I asked him if he could remember his first game, and when he said no I went to my filing cabinet and got my record book out. I list every game that the team of whatever school I'm in plays: scores, team details, everything.

"Here it is," I said. "October 22, 1977. St Pius X School, away." (All our games were away because we didn't have our own pitch.) Match drawn, 3-3.

Man of the Match: Nigel Jowers."

Nigel asked if he could have a photocopy of the report. When I gave it to him, he folded it very carefully and put it in his wallet. "Just wait till I show my lad this!" he said. If I'd given him pound;10,000 he wouldn't have been happier.

So that's how I remember him. An ordinary boy, hardworking and straight. A grand lad.

Bob Eastwood started teaching in Middlesbrough in 1971. Since 1989 he has been head of Abingdon primary school. He was talking to Michael Duffy

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