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Director of sport Martin Pepper has worked at Barnard Castle School in Durham for 16 years.

 

The school counts Rob Andrew, Rory and Tony Underwood and Matthew Tait among its rugby-playing alumni as well as current England scrum-half Lee Dickson.

 

Martin himself played in the back row for Harlequins and England B and previously worked as a regional development officer for the RFU. Here he talks about his sporting life to Mike Dale.

 

What school did you go to?

 

Nunthorpe Grammar School in York

 

What’s your earliest sporting memory?

 

Spending many hours on the touchline when I was little watching my dad play rugby. He played for Hessle Rugby Club in Hull and I was their unofficial ball boy, constantly buzzing about the changing rooms and soaking up the club atmosphere. It was fantastic fun.

 

Who were your sporting heroes growing up?

 

I’m a big Liverpool fan and also love watching Test cricket so my big heroes growing up were Kevin Keegan and Geoff Boycott.

 

What are your best and worst memories of school?

 

My best memories are of my first ever school rugby tour to Dijon in France. I was only 15 and I went with the older lads, so it was quite an eye-opener for me. My worst memories are definitely of running cross-country races around York racecourse. I used to dread those.

 

Can you recall a memorable sporting teacher?

 

Pete Bibby, who was an Olympic volleyball player, and a young member of staff called Robbie Andrews. They were both superb teachers, really inspirational and fantastic role models.

 

What sports do you play these days?

 

Not a lot. Most of my time is spent on the touchline these days coaching or watching my kids. That takes up nearly all my spare time.

 

In what other ways do you stay healthy?

 

Having three kids keeps me pretty lively, just supporting them and helping with what they’re doing. I do get to the gym when I can, but it’s mostly running around after them.

 

What is your favourite sporting memory?

 

I’ve got two. I was privileged to be at Headingley in 1981 to witness Ian Botham scoring that famous 148 against the Aussies. That was phenomenal. Another great memory was with the school when we got to the Daily Mail Cup final in 2003. Lee Dickson, who now plays for England and Northampton, was our captain. It happened to be his 18th birthday. To captain your team at Twickenham on your birthday was something pretty special for him and the school. We were all extremely proud.

 

What’s been your most embarrassing moment?

 

A few years ago we had a prep school sports day and there was a highly competitive parents v staff race. I managed to slip and break my arm. I must add that I got to my feet and completed the race, despite the immense pain and embarrassment.

 

What’s your biggest sporting bugbear?

 

I hate it when players don’t always give their best. I always worked as hard as I could when I performed as a player and I really don’t like to see others not trying. I don’t necessarily mean under-performing, just lack of effort.

 

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

 

When I broke my arm. No, not really. Whenever Great Britain win a gold medal at the Olympics it brings a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. I get quite patriotic and just appreciate all the effort, time and commitment it’s taken for someone to get that reward.

 

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

 

Mike Tyson, because I’d be intrigued to determine what motivated him when he was at his height and see whether he ever felt in control of his behaviour. Lance Armstrong, to find out why he lied about doping and delve into his psyche. The third would be Paul Gascoigne. He’s such a character and I think he’d have some great stories to tell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY SPORTING LIFE