With the blood pressure of a man four years younger, 60-year-old football fanatic Nobby Clark is embarking on his record 23rd Luxmore Grunt mountain run.
Clark said he had always been fit. "I can run past people half my age."
And staying fit is what has allowed him to have a 50-year involvement with football.
Born in Nelson to an English father who was heavily involved with football coaching, it was no surprise the round-ball code was Clark's first love.
Growing up in a competitive household, football ran in the family, with Clark's older siblings choosing the "beautiful game" over rugby.
Clark showed natural talent with the boot at a young age, which resulted in multiple selections for regional representative teams in Nelson, which had a strong footballing community.
After a stint playing in Auckland with the Combined Armed Forces team, Clark moved to Southland. "I've lived here for 37 years but that doesn't make me a Southlander," he said.
A knee injury forced him to stop playing but Clark managed to find a way to stay involved with the game – coaching.
He coached Invercargill teams for the best part of a decade, starting at Queens Park and Old Boys but spending the longest time with Waihopai.
Coaching adults had its positives and negatives, he said, but coaching children was the most enjoyable.
"Juniors were really good to coach, they're like sponges."
Clark coached the same group of children for eight years, where the team always played a level above their grade because they were so good. When Football New Zealand was selecting an under-15 team, nine of Clark's team were selected.
When the children were too old to coach, Clark decided he did not want to start over with another group of children and moved into refereeing.
During more than 10 years in football refereeing, Clark had seen many changes in the sport, none more so than referee abuse.
It's an issue Clark said had got progressively worse.
However, it was not abuse from the pitch that was the most worrying; it was from the coaches, managers and spectators.
Clark said officials could handle the niggles from the pitch because they were not that bad, it was the sideline abuse that caused him to take a stand.
He said not every club was bad but some were definitely worse than others.
"It got to the stage where I said to other officials: `we have got to nip this in the bud'."
Clark said he was not sure why referee abuse had worsened but people saw referees on the television who missed subtle mistakes made by the players.
Although Southland referees certainly were not professionals, they did pick up on mistakes, he said.
Because of the abuse, incident report cards were created to help manage the problem, Clark said.
An incident report card was like the cards players were given, except they were for people who were not on the pitch.
If an incident report card was handed out, Football Southland had to deal with it, Clark said.
The problem had got so bad that people were being put off refereeing at the top level of the Southland competition.
Despite there being 2000 football players in Southland, there were only about 10 referees, Clark said.
Yet out of the bad came some good.
Clark was given the Referee of the Year award from Football Southland for the past two years in a row.
The "real icing on the cake" was winning the Most Promising Referee award from the Otago Southland Premier League, he said.
"For a 60-year-old to win was unheard of."
Clark hopes to be refereeing at the top level of football at 65.
Nowadays he is also kept busy with his 14 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Clark also works long hours at the commercial cleaning company he owns.
- © Fairfax NZ News