Brian Papps will leave quite the legacy when he moves away from Oamaru.
The North Otago sporting historian and former teacher is shifting to Lincoln to be closer to his family – but his impact on the local sporting and wider community will remain.
Papps (77) first made his mark in Oamaru playing cricket. After moving to the town in 1956, he made the Waitaki Boys’ High School second XI as a fourth-former, finding himself facing the New Zealand cricket captain John Reid in his very first game.
“I didn’t even see the first ball,” he said.
He recovered to score eight runs, the first of many in a career representing, among others, North Otago, Otago under 23s and New Zealand Universities at cricket.
Highlights over the years included scoring 136 not out for North Otago against Fiji at the Waitaki Boys’ High School fields in 1968.
He also shared a century stand with New Zealand cricketing legend Bert Sutcliffe.
In 2014, he was named in the Oamaru Cricket Club’s greatest-ever XI over the previous 150 years.
Towards the end of his playing days, Papps, who studied history and English at Otago University, decided to take on the task of compiling the history of cricket in North Otago.
“There were no records, I got hold of all the old scorecards and worked back to the 1920s.
“Their information wasn’t in one place but I knew it existed somewhere.”
While researching the statistics, he dug up some interesting stories, such as that of Carl Zimmerman, who scored 117 runs in 45 minutes against Australia in the 1920s.
“There have been some very good cricketers here that have never been given a chance at higher levels.”
When Papps stopped playing cricket, he took up lawn bowls and eventually became North Otago’s most successful bowler with 34 North Otago titles.
He got into the sport’s administration in a big way – filling almost every administrative role for the North Otago Bowls Centre, and umpiring at the Asia-Pacific and World Championships when they were held in New Zealand.
He also had a more than 50 year association with the Oamaru Bridge Club, winning the club championship pairs 16 times with his late wife Gail.
Outside of sport, Mr Papps was a teacher at Waitaki Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools, including 18 years as assistant principal at the latter.
He also spent eight years as chairman of the North Otago Heart Foundation.
“I thought I’d better help because you never know when you might need their services,” he quipped.
Earlier this year, Papps was nominated for, and received, a Waitaki District Council Citizens Award for his services to sport in the district.
“Whatever I have joined, I have got involved, because that’s how you get the most out of things.
“You don’t do it to receive awards but it is nice to be acknowledged.”
Involvement with the community will be what he will miss the most when he moves to Lincoln, Papps said.
“If people say there is nothing to do here, I don’t know where they are hiding.
“And I will miss the people – you make some very good friends in 50 years.”