Darren Gough

29th February 2008 at 00:00
The constant belief and support teachers showed this cricketing star helped him at the start of his career

Mr Rogerson was my games teacher at St Helen's Primary in Monk Bretton in Barnsley. He was tall and one of those teachers who never changed into games kit.

He wore a tweed suit, a flat cap and proper shoes, and he used to bowl in that suit, wearing those shoes. He never wore trainers.

Cricket was his biggest sport and he loved it. He would encourage us and take us to matches. At playtime he would get out there, put the stumps up against the wall and make sure we all played. He used to do awards at the end of the year and make the trophies himself - little stumps or bats.

Mr Rogerson spotted me as a talent and sent me for a trial for Barnsley Boys when I was 10. I played for them although I was a year too young.

It was during the time of lots of teacher strikes and quite a few schools weren't doing sport. But I had enthusiastic sports teachers who saw I had a talent and helped me on the way.

At Priory Comprehensive in Barnsley there were Mr Hague and Mr Bunting. Football was my main sport until I was 16, although I was playing cricket for Yorkshire Schools. I was lucky enough to have a trial first as a footballer with Barnsley, and then with cricket.

My attitude and my nutrition were not the best but Mr Hague and Mr Bunting helped me. I passed a shop on the way to school where I would get a can of pop and a packet of crisps. I also used to get a pound off my mum for lunch and go down the chippy twice a week. As I got older, what they were saying about nutrition started to register.

I had always wanted to be a sportsman and I was pushed by my parents but I needed someone outside the family to give me that bit of encouragement. They knew I could do it.

We all had interviews with the careers officer when we were 14 and I told him I wanted to be a professional footballer. He asked what I really wanted to be, so I said if I couldn't be a footballer I wanted to be a professional cricketer. I remember he started laughing. He said only one person in Barnsley was likely to make it as a professional sportsman, so I said that was going to be me.

They sent me out to do work experience in a garage, but I didn't want to do that kind of work. I believed in myself and I had teachers who backed me.

I did This Is Your Life a few years ago and Mr Rogerson was shy and wouldn't come on, but he said he would meet me after the show, so I saw him a few days after that. He must have been in his eighties, but he was still looking fit.

I said I was so grateful for what he had done, and he said to me: "Listen, I have followed your career as cricket is the one sport I have always loved." He still lives in Barnsley, and he still had a shirt and tie on and his tweed suit. He was just like when I left

Darren Gough, 37, is England's all-time highest wicket taker in one-day internationals, with 234, and his 229 wickets in 58 Test matches make him England's ninth most successful Test bowler. He also won the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing show in 2005, with Lilia Kopylova, his partner. He is supporting the Boots Change One Thing schools programme to promote healthy lifestyles. He was talking to Nick Morrison.

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