‘This was in June 1961 and shortly after I was brought down to earth with a bang. What was nothing more than a mischievous prank resulted in a teacher almost being hit on the head with a piece of wood. That sounds a bit stark! Perhaps I should explain. I was top of the class in almost everything at school, but not very good at metalwork. ‘O’ levels were getting near, and at the start of one of the metalwork classes I made some comment to the teacher that this wasn’t one of my best subjects and I felt I was wasting my time. What happened next wouldn’t happen these days! The teacher took it upon himself to hurl a wooden-backed blackboard cleaner in my direction. It hit me on the side of the head! I picked it up and threw it back, resulting in a near-miss as the cleaner slammed against the blackboard. The teacher didn’t see the funny side of the exchange and marched me to the headmaster’s study.
The headmaster was not amused, either. He didn’t share the same sense of humour as me and instantly expelled me as I was over the schoolleaving age, which was then fifteen. One moment I was riding to school on my bike, not a care in the world, singing the latest pop song: two hours later I was cast out into the big, wide, adult world.
I wasn’t ready for it. I had never given a thought to working for a living. I guess I just expected to drift into being a professional footballer as I played for the town’s boys’ team. But then again I didn’t consider playing football a job. God, it was so final: I couldn’t go back. I was still a kid thinking life was all fun and messing about and there I was being told that I must get out and earn a living.’
BELOW ‘I was still a kid thinking life was all fun and messing about.’ Rod the teenager with mum and dad