'You should have seen me on the box'

13th January 2006 at 00:00
Maybe the most famous British PE teacher of all is Mr Sugden, magnificently played by Brian Glover in the 1969 film Kes. People who know say that Barry Hines, the author, based Sugden on the late Billy Buck, the PE teacher at Ecclesfield grammar, where Hines was at school. That may be so, but Hines admired Mr Buck, and wrote about him in The TES some years ago.

I was two years above Hines at the same school. He was a good footballer and knew Billy Buck as an excellent coach of boys who were good at sport.

In contrast, I knew him as a gifted and patient teacher of gym skills to boys like me who had no natural ability at all. He taught me, over very few sessions - in a large class, remember - how to take a running springboard-assisted dive on to the box and do a headspring off the far end.

Even now I hardly believe it - and my family certainly don't.

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