A talent scout spotted me in 1959. She was Eileen Nash, my form teacher. I was playing up front at the time, taking a philosophy lesson.
"We've a natural teacher here," she told my mum. Mum, always a little unsure about girls and education, warned me constantly about "being bossy". I graduated and drifted into FE. Apprentices from Norton Villiers, came into my class. Every one was a 6ft biker. School was more of a sentence than a success story for most. Their gaffer said they did not have to do general studies, let alone be taught by a 5ft 5in woman.
However, it was the staff who were the real opposition. They showed a cast-iron opposition to multi-culturalism and equal opportunities.
Then to the personnel managers and business studies students - the upwardly mobile in Walsall and West Bromwich. Their companies were burgeoning, but their misogynous philosophy remained untouched by education.
And then to secondary schools. Most days I went home with a result. I hope the kids did too. In 30 years the game has changed.
The take-home pay's gone from Pounds 48 a month to Pounds 1,700; there's hardly any break between seasons; and you have to perform seven days a week. You can find yourself the victim of abuse or a late tackle from an irate parent and everyone is reliant on sponsorship. So, I consider myself privileged to have enjoyed teaching for so long.
Denise Coles lives in Essex