Incredible, miraculous, life affirming

This blog doesn’t usually comment on football matches, but the dramatic achievements of the two Premier League clubs in defying the odds to win their European Cup semi-finals has left me in something of a quandary: who to support in the final?

Avid readers of this blog, if there are any out there, will know that I was brought up in Tottenham and taught at the long departed Tottenham School in Selby Road for seven years in the 1970s. As a result, it should be a forgone conclusion that I will support Spurs in Madrid. I cannot afford the £500+ for a hotel room, plus the travel and ticket price to actually go to the match, and should not as I am just an armchair supporter.

However, family history demands that I support Liverpool. Work on the family tree has shown that an ancestor play a key role in the events in Liverpool that created Liverpool Football Club and witnessed the creation of Everton on the other side of Stanley Park. I have always been proud to bear the name of Orrell as my middle name.

More importantly, do the events of these two matches tell us something we in education should take to heart? They certainly affirm the importance of leadership of a team, both strategic leadership by the manager and tactical leadership on the field. The support of the owners and the board are also vital. For these could we substitute, the head, the head of department or phase for the team captain and the governing body for the Board? The analogy might not be a perfect one, but you can see where I am coming from.

Do you develop under-performing players or sell them to someone else? Again, not a perfect analogy, but in the week when the Timpson Review was published, there are questions for school leaders.

However, the key message is the same as that from Robert the Bruce with his encounter with a spider: don’t give up.  I wrote a post on this blog on the 25th August 2016 that ended with the message: So, my message is one of hope. Don’t give up. If at first you fail, try, try again. Who knows what you might achieve in the end.

Of course I accept that you don’t have enough resources, we rarely do. And teachers and others working in schools are already giving of their best, no quibbles there, but for the disadvantaged, those with SEND and those facing many of lives other challenges, what messages can we as educators take from the exploits at Anfield and in Amsterdam?

At the very least we can hold our heads a bit higher today and even higher still if Chelsea and the Gunners make it a clean sweep in football’s European Finals. After the battering over Brexit, we all need some good news, and whether you are an avid football fan or not, these two matches have certainly provided that while also creating nail-biting spectacles.

Well, the incredible did happen and four teams from England are in the two finals.