15th July 2005 at 01:00
'Sometimes it'd be me and Mr Heasman playing football against the rest of the class';My best teacher;Interview;Vinnie Jones;People;Featuers Arts

My favourite teacher was my headmaster at my first junior school. I'd left South Oxhey infants and my family moved out to a small place called Bedmond, near Kings Langley, and obviously I didn't want to leave all my mates.

I was distraught, and even though I was just seven or eight years old and in a new school, I wanted to disrupt everything and cause as much mayhem as I could. I was trying to smash the windows in, burn the school down - any act of anarchy I could think of. In my mind I thought it would make it impossible for me to stay and I'd have to go back.

The headmaster was a guy called Derek Heasman and he was very strong on discipline. He used to have a black seat and a big white plimsoll with laces and he used to wrap that around my backside most days. One day he phoned my Dad and said, "Look, the boy's a right problem," and my old man said to him, "Just get him into sports and football."

So he put me in the school football team. I was a couple of years too young, but he put me in with all the older boys and a lot of them are still my best mates now. I was fine from then on. He just understood me and my needs and he didn't judge me.

Mr Heasman was a QPR supporter so the school outing would usually be a game at Queen's Park Rangers, but he took us to watch England games too. As I got more into football I became quite matey with him - sometimes it'd be me and him playing football against the rest of the class. And as my behaviour improved I got less and less of the slipper. For a while we stayed in touch after I left for secondary school and I'd see him at matches.

All I can remember about school after that was playing football. Even in secondary school that's all I wanted to do. I'd be sitting in the classroom just looking out the window, watching an imaginary game or planning the lunchtime soccer match. I was brilliant at long-distance running, but I hated it. I came fourth in the All-England running team when I was 14 and my Dad wanted me to go for it, but by then football was my be-all and end-all.

I always had respect for my sports teachers, but there was only one subject teacher I had any time for. She was my history teacher and my form teacher and I always thought she was on my side a bit. Because of that I listened.

I think a lot of the time when kids don't listen it's because they sense a teacher is trying to force their authority on to them, and they don't sense any mutual respect. I still like history now.

It was a great surprise to me when Derek Heasman and I got back together in 2001 when I was on This is your Life. I'm still in contact with him now. He says to me, "You're not too old for me to get that slipper out!" But it's nice to have a relationship over 30-odd years with someone. He's now 70-something, but he still looks just 50.

He's got an OBE for services to education. He's done so many years'

teaching he's very clear about "the right way" and "the wrong way" to do it and he won't be having the wrong way around him. I did a presentation for his school a couple of years ago and he was still teaching the same lessons he did when I was with him. What struck me, even now, is he treats the kids as adults. He'll say to them, "Right, have you got that?" and expect them to be engaged. He won't pander to them.

Vinnie Jones promotes Bosch Power Tools and was talking to Mark Anstead

The story so far

1965 Born Vincent Peter Jones in Watford

1969 Attends South Oxhey infants school and then Bedmond junior school

1976 Attends Chester City grammar school

1984 Plays for non league Wealdstone while working as a builder

1988 Wins FA cup with Wimbledon

1992 After spells with Leeds, Sheffield United and Chelsea, returns to Wimbledon

1998 First film launches acting career: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

2000 Snatch and Swordfish cement his screen reputation

2005 Voted best newcomer at International Sci Fi Film Festival for part in Slipstream. Currently filming X-Men 3

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