by BEN BANKS
DAVID ROBERTSON stood exposed on the roof of an Afghan police station fearing for his life as Taliban bullets flew towards him.
But all he could do was LAUGH.
The Newmains United kitman has seen plenty of battles on the pitch in his role at Victoria Park over the past 12 months.
But in 2008 he was on the front line during a real war.
Robertson spent over 20 years in the army and was a company sergeant major in Afghanistan during the Taliban’s siege.
That saw him and his men come under major fire as they did their best to help the stricken home soldiers.
He looks back now and wonders just how they got out of the situation with everyone alive.
Robertson, 50, said: “We’d been sent on an operational tour to the country and it became very challenging around the August of that year.
“We went to Nade-Ali, which was becoming a problematic place. When we arrived the Afghan army had come under some sustained attack from the Taliban.
“They were in a school which had been absolutely smashed in and had about four or five who were dead. No sooner had we broken into the police station the s**t hit the fan.
“We came under a heavy Taliban attack. It was coming from all directions. We wanted to take the high ground and I said to one of my operators Scotty McFadden that we’d get up onto the police roof.
“He was the first one to start laughing as the bullets were flying by our ears and in between my legs. You could hear the whizz, the bullets were everywhere.
“We just started laughing because otherwise we would have cried. People ask if I was scared and I always say I was. I would question someone if they said they wouldn’t have been. Eventually we managed to quell the ferocity again.
“This was not a fight, it was a war. We were sending patrols out and they were constantly under attack. I sometimes wonder to this day how we managed to get out of it without one of my soldiers dying.
“We spent eight months in Afghanistan and we fought for about 13 hours a day.”
Yet Robertson loved his time serving his country and will always treasure the experience and memories with the various regiments.
Just 17 when he joined in March 1986, he said: “You’ll never get much better than a Scottish soldier. People can laugh but I am deadly serious when I say that.
“That’s my view based on experience and having served with multiple different regiments and training different people.
“Some of these young boys went to Afghanistan and they came out men. Scottish soldiers are hard as nails.”
Robertson had left his hometown Lanark to first link up with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers regiment.
His first deployment came in February 1987, when he was sent to the Berlin borough of Spandau.
A two-year stay saw Robertson come face-to-face with Rudolf Hess whilst on guard at the local prison, where the notorious former Nazi deputy leader was a prisoner.
Robertson said: “Part of our role in Berlin was to guard Spandau prison along with the French and Russians.
“Hess would come out and do his gardening during the day. It was a bit surreal to see as a 17-year-old lad. This guy who you’d been taught about in school was there in front of you.
“If you looked at him and he caught you he would grass you in. He would ask ‘why is that soldier looking at me? He’s meant to be protecting me’.
“It could have been him trying to give you the fear factor or make you look the other way rather than look in.”
When Robertson was posted to Cyprus in 1999 he was joined by wife Lisa. He was a lance corporal and dad to sons Adam and Cameron.
Adam now plays for Newmains and Robertson said: “I had taken my first promotion and there was a lot to do. We spent ten months there and it was a fantastic place.
“We used to call Adam Steve McQueen, as he always liked a great escape. He would run out naked and jump over the fence to his mate’s quarter. He was a wee bugger!
“Going from being a single solider to a married soldier was a completely different culture. When I was a young soldier there would be eight to ten men in the barracks and there wasn’t a great deal of time for yourself.
“With a family you got your own space. You could do with that as you see fit. It was a great experience.”
Robertson is now a key member of the Newmains army who have been raising standards on and off the pitch over the past 12 months.
Yet for all his bravery, Robertson felt like he was in no man’s land when he was asked to play Santa Kitsmas as part of the club’s Christmas Message last December.
Asked about his cameo appearance in the film, which reached over 30,000 people on social media, he grinned: “In the army I spent a lot of my time as an instructor so being in front of large crowds and speaking to people was something that never really bothered me.
“I wasn’t expecting the part as Santa. I was a tad rough from the night before but it was a good laugh.”