Dave Maisey: Melville’s oldest fan

As Melville club records tumbled during Saturday’s stunning 12-0 victory over Metro, another hard-to-beat milestone almost went unnoticed on the sideline, as Melville oldest-ever travelling fan quietly cheered on his team.

There is little joy to be had on Auckland’s clogged roads these days, but 90-year-old Dave Maisey made light of the traffic as he drove to Melville’s away match in the trusty blue Ford Laser he has owned since 1993.

Melville have had their share of elderly supporters over the years – Gordon Cawte, John Easto and Bob Owens come to mind – but never a nonagerian like Dave, who turned 90 on March 23, just ahead of a drive to Pukekohe for the Franklin match.

The trip to Phyllis St was his third away trip of the season. Arriving nice and early, with the aid of his walking frame, Dave found a window perch from inside the Metro clubrooms from where he could watch the action with his one good eye.

“I’ve been quite impressed with Melville this season,” he said. “We’ve got some exciting young players alongside some experienced players who are doing well.

“It’s been very good to watch.”

He nominates Steven Holloway as his all-time favourite Melville player. “Very skilful – and you don’t get any nonsense from him.”

The longest solo away trip he has made was in the relative youth of his late 60s, to Park Island in Napier to watch Waikato United.

Maisey had been one of the unsung heroes of Waikato United, which amalgamated with Melville in mid-1996 to form Melville United.

After having mowed Muir Park for many years with his tractor, Maisey became groundsman at Gower Park post-amalgamation. In the early years at Gower he would often personally mow the No 1 pitch to get it to a standard above what the council was prepared to present it – though in later years occupational health and safety regulations prevented that.

He continued as club groundsman until mobility problems with his hip stopped him in his early 80s, and also served many years on the Melville United management committee.

Maisey has never played football, but was drawn into the code when his two boys started playing.

“There was nobody to ref – nobody even knew the rules.”

So Dave learned the rules and became an official referee – an era from which he says his most vivid memory was once sending off Jeff Coulshed. That’s something he still gets reminded of today whenever the former Hamilton AFC coach surfaces.

In retirement, in 1991 Dave became coach of the Waikato Special Olympics team and held the post until 2010, not only winning numerous national championships, but also getting the players to assist him in marking the Gower Park pitches.

In 2005 Dave was named Melville Club Person of the Year and made a life member shortly afterwards. In 2012 he won the national Jim McMullen Trophy for services to football.

These days Dave lives alone, and dines most nights at the Hamilton Workingmen’s Club.

“I do realise how lucky I am to still be driving at my age, and I wouldn’t change anything,” he said. “I’ve had a lifetime of enjoyment out of football, so I have only tried to put back in what I have got our of it.”

Keep an eye out for Dave at Waitemata’s McLeod Park on Saturday.

Recent Posts