Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Coach 'won't ever be same'

Much-loved volunteer struggles to remember family after vicious assault a month ago.
Paul Margison coached several football teams. Photo / Supplied
Paul Margison coached several football teams. Photo / Supplied

A much-loved volunteer football coach remains in hospital with brain injuries a month after a vicious assault in South Auckland.

Paul Margison and a friend were attacked while walking home from the Papatoetoe Softball Club after a prizegiving early on April 10.

When his friend regained consciousness minutes later, Mr Margison, 56, still lay unresponsive.

He is now in Auckland City Hospital, starting a long road to recovery.

He is due to be transferred to a rehabilitation centre within the next week where his children Jay, 32, and Kendall, 30, hope to be given a better idea about what is ahead.

When Mr Margison was first admitted to hospital Jay said the family were told the football fanatic would die. So to see him standing and walking, albeit a bit shakily, was a huge improvement.

But his dad's personality had changed and he struggled to remember who his family were.

"It has been a big shock, especially now it has changed his quality of life. He's not going to be the same person. That's what is most upsetting at the moment for everyone."

Both Jay and Kendall were travelling from their Palmerston North homes to spend as much time with their father as they could while juggling family and work commitments.

Jay's youngest daughter, Izabella, is just 2 months old and is yet to meet her grandfather because the assault happened a week before he had planned to fly down for a visit.

Jay and Kendall spent the first three weeks by their dad's bedside. Jay plans to return on Friday for another week while Kendall tries to spend most weekends in Auckland.


Police have confirmed a 39-year-old Papatoetoe man was arrested on April 15 and charged with wounding with intent to injure and assaults with intent to injure. His next appearance is at Manukau District Court in July.

The local sporting community is rallying to support Mr Margison, who not only coached football almost every evening but also played it himself in winter, and played softball and tennis in the summer.

He was a life member of the Otahuhu United AFC, had this year been appointed the goalkeeper coach for Papatoetoe AFC women's teams and had coached the Clendon Cats women's team for 10 years.

Jay said his dad was easygoing and the type of person who did things for others without expecting anything back.

Papatoetoe AFC women's premier head coach Andrew Kirk had known Mr Margison for five years and said players loved working with him for his expertise and friendly manner.

Clendon Cats player Amber Roberts has set up a Givealittle page to raise money for her coach and his family for rehabilitation, visits, living costs and equipment. "Paul is not just a coach to many of these players, but part of their family."

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- NZ Herald

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