For Fash – the clash

By Cat Bartman

John Fashanu and former teacher Jane Lund
John Fashanu and former teacher Jane Lund delighted to see each other again.

Coming face to face with the man who caned you as a 14-year-old might not be everyone’s idea of fun.

But for former football player John Fashanu it was all part of the experience when he returned to his old school in Attleborough yesterday.

Fashanu was brought up with his late brother Justin by foster parents Betty and Alfred Jackson, in nearby Shropham.

He had first come to Norfolk aged three on holiday as a Barnardo’s boy.

As part of filming for a new series of Anglia Television’s Coming Home, the 40-year-old former Norwich City, Wimbledon and Aston Villa footballer visited Attleborough High School, meeting up with some of his old teachers.

The programme takes people on “an emotional journey” back to places that were significant to them and this series focuses on celebrities from the region.

Among those Fashanu was reunited with was Chris Allen, former head of PE, who gave him two strokes of the cane on December 19, 1977.

According to the punishment book, it was for “persistent bad behaviour, pulling a chair away from under a pupil, fighting on the school bus and kneeing a boy”.

His brother had got three strokes of the cane a few months earlier for “deliberately disobeying a member of staff”.

“John wanted to debate the matter,” said Mr Allen. “I said ‘you either take your punishment or you wont play football’. He took the punishment as a man and as he walked out said ‘thank you very much’.”

Headteacher Stuart Bailey added: “The children are really excited. There are a lot of staff who are still here who were here when he was and they remember him very fondly.”

Both brothers launched their professional footballing careers with Norwich City, Justin in September 1977, and John two years later.

Since retiring Fashanu has had a career in television and returned to our screens this year in ITV1’s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! coming second behind former England cricketer Phil Tufnell.

Asked by pupils, many of who [sic] have parents who were in his class, if he enjoyed his time in the jungle, he replied: “That was 15 days of hard work!”

Of his return to the school, he said: “Coming back brings a lot of memories for me because it shaped my life. It seems like yesterday when I was here, nothing’s changed.”

Fashanu, who was a prefect, said he was good at English and sport and that completing his education helped him after his football career ended.

He also credited his English and PE teacher, John Lund, who would make the young boy with a speech impediment stand up in class and read out loud.

“Days turned into weeks and I became quite good at reading,” said Fashanu. “Reading from an autocue I often think of when I was standing in class and reading like that.”

Mr Lund’s wife, Jane, another teacher he remembered, was given a big hug when they met up again.

“John was a very good pupil. He was a bit cheeky now and then, but a really nice lad,” said Mr Lund, now head of PE.

“They were both just tremendously gifted athletically. They could pick up any sport very quickly.”

Earlier Fashanu had been to Attleborough Town Football Club, where he and Justin played, and later visited the Canaries’ ground.

He will also return to his former home in Shropham for the programme.

“For me going back to my family house, that’s going to be an emotional time,” he told the EDP.

“They were the days with my brother Justin, who’s now dead. It would have been fantastic to have been here with Justin.”

The new series of Coming Home will be televised next year.