Tribute To the Legend Norman McFarland11 April 2019
Dear King Edward VII School Community,
It is with great sadness that we learned of the sudden passing of Mr Norman McFarland yesterday.
Norman McFarland taught at King Edward VII School from 1967 to 1986.
He was a revered rugby coach, Physical Education and History teacher.
Our deepest condolences go to his family during this difficult time.
Please see attached article from the 1986 School magazine.
Tribute By Michael Faber
Norman McFarland passed away on Tuesday 9th April, a week short of his 80th birthday.
Norman was a legendary schoolboy rugby coach who was known throughout the country for his innovative coaching style and unique brand of rugby. He coached The Reds, St. John’s, Pretoria Boys High, Transvaal Schools at Craven Week and had a successful stint at Wits University in the late 80s/early 90s. The cornerstone of Norman’s coaching was ball handling – he believed that every player regardless of position should be able to give and take a pass and it was this that set his teams apart. He studied the laws and at one stage played with very effective 3 and 5-man scrums which completely confused the opposition.
He arrived at King Edwards in 1967 with a broad Northern Irish accent that he never lost. Initially he was a physical education teacher but later headed up the guidance department. His real passion was rugby and some say it was he who put King Edwards on the rugby map. He became master-in-charge of rugby in 1971 and produced three unbeaten teams in his next 15 years in charge. He instilled the passion for the red jersey and was the person who started the tradition of players sleeping with it under their pillow the night before a game. He had a way with young men and gave us the confidence to believe in ourselves. His quiet words before a game when he would grasp your face in his hands and look you in the eye as he gave you gentle words of encouragement is something I won’t forget. His other policy was to not speak to players straight after the game when emotions are high – win or lose – rather analyze performances once everyone had calmed down and had a day to think about it.
He loved road running and he used to be seen running all over Johannesburg with that characteristic running style and twitch of his neck.
He was senior housemaster at Buxton for his last 7 years where together with his wife Myrtle (who passed away in 2017 after 55 years of marriage), he took good care of the boarders and potato pie became part of the set menu.
After leaving the school in 1986, he joined St. John’s College. After a short stint at St. John’s, he joined Pretoria Boys High School in 1990. He returned to St. Johns until his retirement in the late 2000s. The King Edwards headmaster at the time, Mr Michael Fennell persuaded him to come back and coach at the school which he did for a few seasons before returning to St. John’s where he was still coaching the U16 age group with great success up until the time of his death.
He is survived by his son Stephen who matriculated from KES in 1981 and lives and teaches in Perth and his daughter Janet who teaches at St. Mary’s School in Waverley.
Our sincere condolences to Steve, Janet and families.