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Jenny Canty (June 2015)


Jenny Canty is a PE teacher at Redden Court School in Romford, Essex.


Despite being a Manchester United fanatic, she played for Arsenal Ladies for twelve years and was part of three FA Cup-winning squads. Here she talks about her sporting life to Mike Dale.


What school(s) did you go to?


Bishop Challoner School in Southlands, south east London.


What’s your earliest sporting memory?


Playing football with my dad and my brother on the local green aged about six. Also going on holiday to the Isle of Wight where Paul Reaney, who used to play for Leeds, was running a soccer school. I was the only girl and was named best player but couldn’t accept the prize as it was for boys only. Spectating wise, my first memory is my dad taking me to Stamford Bridge to watch Manchester United. We waited for the away team bus and when it arrived I got out my United scarf. Norman Whiteside got off the coach first and gave me a nod which I remember to this day.


Who were your sporting heroes growing up?


Norman Whiteside and Bryan Robson were my early heroes in a pretty mediocre early-90s United team. Then there was Eric Cantona, and I also really admire Steffi Graf and Jo Pavey.


What are your best and worst memories of school?


My best memory was winning a whole-school fun run when I was in year seven. That got me identified as someone who had real potential and I represented Tower Hamlets in athletics after that. My worst memory is just hating the cold changing room experience, especially after swimming.


Can you recall a memorable sporting teacher?


Mrs Stonebridge. She gave me my first foot on the ladder to becoming a footballer by putting me forward for a local girls’ team. It was while playing for them that I got spotted by Arsenal. Without her I may not have gone on to have a football career.


What sports do you play these days?


I play five-a-side with a few other ex-Arsenal players. We got through to finals day at Wembley Stadium a few years’ ago. I also play netball for Romford.


In what other ways do you stay healthy?


I go to a spit-‘n’-sawdust boxing gym in Camden with the Arsenal girls. We do bag work and sparring. I did the London Marathon in 2007. I’m from the east end and spent most of the run high-fiving friends in the crowd.


What is your favourite sporting memory?


Apart from the FA Cup wins with Arsenal, it was probably winning a five-a-side tournament as a junior. I scored the winning goal as we won the final 2-1. Teddy Sheringham presented us with medals. It still puts a smile on my face thinking about it now.


What’s been your most embarrassing sporting moment?


In the League Cup final against Doncaster Belles, I got taken out in the first minute and my brother started giving this opposition player abuse. Everyone was looking at him. I had to take him aside and tell him ‘this is not how we behave in women’s football.’ I also scored two own goals in a game once which was pretty humiliating.


What’s your biggest sporting bugbear?


Cheating of any sort, like when the sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner, who I really admired, failed a drugs test. I also detest play-acting in football. The inequality in coverage and recognition of women’s sport compared to men’s also annoys me.


When was the last time you cried at a sporting event?


I am an emotional person when watching sport. The 2012 Olympics was such an emotional time for me as an east Londoner. The pride of being British on Super Saturday overwhelmed me. I cried quite hysterically that day actually. Also the day Alex Ferguson retired I bawled my eyes out. And Paul Scholes. And when Bryan Robson broke his collarbone… I could go on.


Which three sports people would you like to have around for dinner and why?


Eric Cantona. I’d love to ask him about kicking that Crystal Palace fan, because I was at that game in the away end. I remember it vividly. Mohammed Ali, because I just love his confidence. He’s a highly intelligent man with deep beliefs. He’d be fascinating. I’d also have Chris Hoy. He was born the day after me and I have a bit of a crush on him.

Footballers shouting for free-kicks and throw-ins from the referee when they know that it should not be their ball.


When was the last time you cried at a sporting event?


When England were beaten by Argentina at the World Cup when David Beckham was sent off. 


Which three sports people would you like to have around for dinner and why?


Alex Ferguson because I would love to know how he gets his players to fulfil their potential, Viv Richards because I’d love to hear some tales from his days of being the talisman for the greatest international cricket team ever and David Beckham because he has played with and against the greatest players of his generation for the top clubs and managers in Europe (plus some fashion advice wouldn’t go a miss).