School's 'face of football' prepares for retirement
After 40 years coaching football, mostly at Mountainview High School, John Davers is always prepared for a kick-about.
His agriculture classroom stores a bag of footballs and the 65-year-old is always willing to pace the sidelines with his trademark glasses scouting his latest crop of talented footballers.
Davers, who will retire at the end of the year, first arrived at the school in 1971, when it was known as Timaru College, as a fresh-faced 23-year-old.
With the exception of a seven-year stint teaching in Southland from 1987 to 1994, he has been the face of football at the school ever since.
Davers is held in such high regard by past and present pupils, a match in his honour was played between current and former players earlier this year.
He was presented with a framed pictorial history of many of the teams he has coached throughout the years.
Davers said it would be hard to give up the his Saturday ritual, but he felt it was time.
"There are times when I realise the mind is not as sharp as it once was . . . of course there will be things that I miss, like the contact with young people."
Davers coached the first XI boys' team but also coached age-group teams when coaches were scarce.
The move allowed him to keep an eye on up-and-coming talent.
He said his most treasured memory with the top side would be a third place finish in the South Island Secondary Schools Winter Tournament in 2002.
While he has coached the team to third on three occasions, he said the standard of opposition, the quality of his own players and the fact it was played in Timaru, all culminated to make it special.
Davers said the revolving door of players which secondary school teams are plagued by was the most rewarding part of his tenure.
"The continual fluidity of players is always exciting," he said. "You think you're getting a team together but three of them leave because they're at the top end and then you have to look at an Under-14 squad and think that six of them might be good enough to come through.
"It is frustrating because you just get a team together (and they move on)."
Davers said it was up to the new coaches in 2013 if they wanted his input but he was happy to take a step back.
He said he had enjoyed coaching several generations of families over the years.
The Timaru Herald