Sports Editor's Note: The following was submitted by Norwich High School Athletic Director Joseph Downey, and was written by Tom Rowe.
Throughout musical history there have been scores of songs that used the word kick in their titles or was incorporated as a primary theme in the body of that work. And even a few artists have used the word to define their act, such as Alive And Kicking, who recorded “Tighter, Tighter” in 1970.
Paul Revere and The Raiders reached Top 10 heights with their 1966 anti-drug anthem “Kicks”, and a few years later in 1969 The MC 5, who hailed from Detroit but with no Motown ties, recorded the heavy metal classic “Kick Out The Jams.” Even Chuck Berry, the Poet Laureate of Rock ‘N’ Roll, crooned “I have no ‘kick’ against modern jazz unless they play it too darn fast” in his immortal Chess disc “Rock And Roll Music” in 1957.
The list goes on and on with Big Band tunes meeting folk endeavors which in time came head to head with British Invasion recordings – all using that most adaptive word kick. And, during the “Disco Era” the City of Norwich was abuzz with a special air never before heard as a young British lad by the name Graeme Tosh ‘kick-started’ its high school’s fledgling soccer program to never before dreamed of heights.
The Tosh family arrived on the Norwich scene during the summer of 1977, when Graeme’s father, Ian, was transferred here as an employee of Norwich-Eaton Pharmaceuticals. Although well-suited to play on the Norwich varsity soccer team, Tosh was not allowed to as New York State Public High School Athletic Association rules denied junior high school students from partaking in varsity sports. And, since Norwich did not sport a junior varsity squad at that time, Tornado head coach John McCumiskey petitioned the Norwich Board of Education to grant Graeme permission to participate under the Exceptional Student Athlete Classification, but to no avail.
“I first met Graeme in July (1977) when he came to Gibson School to join the summer soccer program,” recalled McCumiskey. “At first I had him join in with his own age group, but his skill level was so much higher that he began to dominate the games.”
Asked if he would like to play in the adult league, he jumped at the opportunity. Playing with and against players from 16-29 years of age, he excelled at the demanding position of center halfback, ultimately being voted by the league as his team’s Most Valuable Player. Later that summer, Tosh participated in a four-team tournament, consisting mainly of 15- and 16-year-olds, in Downsville along with Mount Markham and Oneonta. Again after showcasing his talents, Downsville coach Jim Campbell summed it up best, “That boy is one of the most gifted 16-year-olds I have seen in this tournament.” He became even more amazed when informed that he was only 13.
So, in the fall of 1977, having just come off a 4-5 losing season during its inaugural year (1976) as a varsity sport, Norwich, with Tosh acting no more than a ball boy/team manager, was forced to watch its most talented and gifted player ever to grace its presence relegated to the bench during game time. That season, the Purple’s first in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference (STAC), resulted in a 5-11 record. And, maybe because of lack of playing time as an eighth grader, Tosh and his fellow freshmen players suffered through a 2-14-1 result in 1978 as he accounted for four goals and two assists.