Havering's Naylor calls time on 50-year coaching career

Dave Naylor was Havering Sports Council's sports personality of the year in 1970

Dave Naylor was Havering Sports Council's sports personality of the year in 1970 - Credit: Havering AC

Havering AC middle distance coach Dave Naylor has decided to hang up his whistle and stopwatch after over 50 years of top-level coaching.

After joining Hornchurch Harriers as a young athlete in 1956, Naylor's successes included winning the Essex Youth Cross-Country Championship in 1960 before he enlisted in the Army as a Royal Engineer the following year.

Dave Naylor in action at the Essex Cross-Country Championships in 1960

Dave Naylor in action at the Essex Cross-Country Championships in 1960 - Credit: Havering AC

He became a qualified PE instructor and trained the Corps to their first regimental championship for many years but his career was cut short in 1968 when an accident in Germany left him paralysed in all four limbs, leading to his medical discharge from the Army, aged 23.

His determination saw him recover sufficiently enough to return to Hornchurch Stadium and in 1969 he began coaching with the recently formed Havering Athletic Club.

Dave Naylor with a group of young athletes

Dave Naylor with a group of young athletes - Credit: Havering AC

Starting with just one athlete, his sister Trish, he soon formed a successful coaching group and his achievements saw him crowned Havering Sports Personality of the Year in 1970. Dave supplemented his coaching expertise by attending elite training camps and also drew on his army PE knowledge of circuit training and mobility exercise to the benefit of his group.


You may also want to watch:


His first international success came in 1973 when Lesley Kiernan (now Foley) won 800m silver for Great Britain in the European Junior Championships. Dave went on to coach a regular stream of numerous others to national medals at the English Schools and other championships, earning international vests at junior and senior level, the most recent being Faye Fullerton and Lauren Deadman.

At local level the athletes he has coached have achieved success, winning too many individual and team medals to count at county and regional levels. They have formed the backbone of the strong Havering borough teams in the London Mini Marathon, with multiple winners of this annual event since it began over 30 years ago.

Most Read

All this has been achieved despite the disabilities caused by his major injury, which unfortunately have limited his visits to the track and competitions and have progressively affected his health in recent years.

His younger sister Sue Deane, herself a coach and committee member at Havering AC, said: “Dave has inspired so many athletes and coaches. I am there at the club because of Dave and our family have admired his strength and courage throughout the years.

Dave Naylor receives retirement gifts from Havering AC from sister Sue

Dave Naylor receives retirement gifts from Havering AC from sister Sue - Credit: Havering AC

"He always had a calm encouraging manner but with a kind of magic which is hard to describe and which gets the best out of his athletes. He has done this so selflessly despite his health constraints which he has managed so well over the years.”

Sue presented Dave with a gift on behalf of the club committee to mark his well-earned retirement and he will now be able to call on the assistance of a state-of-the-art “Alexa” in addition to his valuable support from wife Eileen, who continues to coach at the club.

Havering's Dave Naylor has retired from coaching

Havering's Dave Naylor has retired from coaching - Credit: Havering AC


Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter