TEACHER Joe Harkins will achieve a long-time goal of hosting the first ever Scotland versus England international match in Greenock tonight.

Joe, who taught PE at St Stephen’s and St Columba’s High, is the current president of the Scottish Schools’ Football Association and is excited to have the Auld Enemy schoolboy teams playing at Cappielow in the Centenary Shield.

He took up the two-year role in June and one of the perks is the option to choose where the under-18 teams will play — and Joe jumped at the chance to have it in his hometown.

Joe has been involved in schools’ football since he was a PE teacher at St Stephen’s High in Port Glasgow between 1977 and ‘86 and during 15 years at St Columba’s in Gourock where he was also depute head.

He is now in his second spell at St Ninian’s High in East Renfrewshire teaching part-time, mixing that with his role as president.

Joe, who yesterday celebrated his 61st birthday, said: “This is my first year and traditionally the president and his local association gets the first refusal of the Scotland-England game when it’s up here.

“It’s a good tournament and this year we are very lucky to have a lot of boys at professional clubs, such as Aberdeen, Dundee United, St Mirren and Queen’s Park, while still at school.

“It should be a good standard and we’re very excited about this year’s team, we’ve got a lot of good players.

“I think it’s the first time we’ve had the fixture in Inverclyde, certainly the first time at Cappielow.

“I’m really proud and thrilled to bits about it and also with Morton and what they have done for us.”

Joe, who has always lived in Larkfield and Braeside area, is also dad to former Dundee, Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle ace Gary Harkins, who is now with Ayr United, and his younger brother Paul, who has played for clubs including Elgin City and Queen’s Park and is now in the junior ranks.

He hopes for a good turnout tonight at Cappielow for what he believes will be an entertaining match.

Joe said: “To be able to bring a Scotland-England match to Inverclyde is a big thing.

“There’s an awful lot of good work being done in the area at clubs like East End United, St Andrew’s, Port Boys’ Club, Gourock YAC and Morton’s own football in the community, and this is a great opportunity for these kids to get along and see a good level of football that might be possible for them in the future.

“It’s an inspiration for local boys to go on and play international football.

“At Morton, three of their current first team squad are all former under-18 internationals — Thomas O’Ware, Jai Quitongo and recent signing Lawrence Shankland.

“It shows that players at this level can go on and have a good future.

“I’m really looking forward to the match and I hope the locals come out and see something different.”

Tonight's match kicks off at 7pm and entry costs £6 for adults and £3 for children and concessions.