Tributes paid to 'completely committed winner, great friend' and former Ely Rugby Club captain David 'Goof' Harvey
PUBLISHED: 14:19 05 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:19 05 September 2017
Tributes have been paid to a "completely committed winner" and "inspirational" former captain of Ely Rugby Club who lived in Soham and led the team to its only county cup victory against Cambridge in 1994.
David Harvey, known to his friends as ‘Goof’, died on Sunday at the age of 50.
David’s best friend, Neil Sarll, said: “Ely Rugby Club lost one of it’s finest on Sunday. David Harvey, known as ‘Goof’ to all that knew him, passed away in Addenbrooke’s after a hard fought battle with pneumonia.
“Goof was born and raised in Soham, son to Eileen and Terry Harvey, and brother to John. He enjoyed his school days at Soham Village College, particularly his sport and excelled in both cricket and rugby.
“He was fortunate to have a first class rugby coach in Tony Russ, and it was after leaving SVC in 1983 that he was invited to join Ely Rugby Club Colts team.
“Within a year he was captain, and with the help of the coach, Dave Baines, he managed to put together a formidable Colts team that not only had some great results against some top teams, but Goof also made sure the team bonded both on and off the field.
“And many of those players still remain good friends to this day.
“Following the colts, Goof progressed to senior rugby and after a brief spell in the seconds, he began his long and distinguished career as an Ely 1st XV player.
“Goof was never one to sit back and keep quiet; he always had an opinion and always made it heard.
“Always a team player, he was prepared to fill in at any position if needed, as he did one league game one Saturday when he had to start the game as prop as the selected prop, Nigel Cooper, didn’t arrive in time for kick off.
“He kindly asked for the opposition player to ‘go easy’ on him, which fell on deaf ears, until Nigel arrived and proceeded to return things to normal order.
“Around this time, he also partnered with David “Taffy” Lloyd to start a Sunday Rugby team called the Old Sohamsos.
“This was a social team of former school mates and friends,, and although never taking their rugby too seriously, still managed to put out a half decent team most weeks.
“He continued his rugby career whilst at Crewe and Alsager College, and he was awarded for his hard work and ability by being selected to play for England Students at a tournament on the Isle of Man against the other home nations.
“I’m not sure of the exact year, but in the early nineties, Goof was awarded captaincy of Ely 1st XV. He always led by example, facing the opposition head on - no matter the size of the opposition pack.
“He was a superb tactician and constantly got the best out of his players. In fact, his team would have done anything for Goof, as he was so respected by his team mates. The highlight of his playing career with Ely was an historic County Cup Final win over Cambridge RFC, played at Grantchester Road.
“Expected by many to be an easy win for the hosts, Goof led his team to a hard fought victory of their much fancied opponents.
“This was definitely David v Goliath stuff, no one gave Ely a chance but somehow Goof managed to lead and direct his team to Ely’s finest victory. And for this he will always be remembered and acknowledged.
“Following his playing days, Goof continued to devote much of his time to Ely RFC, but this time as first team coach.
“He had a superb rugby brain, and was often innovative in his training methods and style of play.
“He particularly enjoyed developing the younger players, and was able to guide many players to a higher level than they might otherwise have achieved.
“He then moved to Suffolk for about 10 years, where he and his wife Helen schooled their two boys, Scott and Harry, at St Joseph’s in Ipswich.
“Again, Goof assisted the college rugby coaches in developing their students, coaching different styles of play to what they may had been accustomed to, and this again resulted in a highly regarded 1st XV which only narrowly missed out on a Daily Mail Cup Final at Twickenham.
“He was instrumental in Suffolk RFU’s revival, where he created a more professional approach to all aspects of county rugby, which culminated in him coaching both the Under 18s and Under 20s at Eastern Counties level.
“Many of the players in these teams have gone on to have successful professional careers at both national and international level.
“Throughout this period, he spent the summers playing cricket for Soham Cricket Club, where, as well as playing for the 1st XI, he was instrumental in keeping the club afloat, organising various fundraising and social events, including a memorable tour to Southwold.
“Since disbanding a few years ago, Goof has constantly been attempting to resurrect the club to enable local youngsters to play cricket in their home town.
“Once his two sons had finished their schooling, Goof could not wait to return to his birthplace which he did two years ago.
“Goof had a brief role as Colts co-ordinator before he fell ill earlier this year. He will be sorely missed by all those of us who had the pleasure and the honour in knowing this great man.
“He was truly a great friend to many, an inspiration to anyone involved with local rugby, a loving husband to his wife Helen, and a devoted father to his prides of joy, sons Scott and Harry.”
David Lloyd, known as ‘Taffy’, who played in Mr Harvey’s team, said: “I was in the team when he was captain. He was a very good captain and knew how to pick a winning team and get the best out of people.
“He was a great motivator and organiser, always helping young players and will be sadly missed - a good man and a proper winner.”
“He even played in the team with swollen ankles; he dealt with his health problems well. It’s 23 years this year since he won the cup – he almost didn’t pick himself but he was so determined.
“He was completely committed and a real sportsman. It was just in his blood. It’s the only time Ely Tigers Rugby Club has ever won the county cup, too – a great day in the club’s history and the biggest by far.”