Daggers has a newfound love for life

Daryl Koch has found a passion for tending to the Booleroo Centre District Hospital's extensive fruit and vegetable garden.
Daryl Koch has found a passion for tending to the Booleroo Centre District Hospital's extensive fruit and vegetable garden.

In the late 1940s, a young man with an infectious smile and a real sense of adventure and fun went to primary school for the first time in Booleroo Centre.

On that very first day his classmates made some observations and gave him a nickname that would stay with him for the rest of his life, he was told he had “a nice smiley face”, he was always laughing and along with the things he said and did he was told, “you’re a real dag”.

The nickname “daggers” was born and that is who Daryl Koch became known as to this very day.

Daryl was an accomplished sportsman in both the areas of football and cricket, his football ability was recognised early in his life by the Booleroo Centre team, with them giving him the chance to play his first A Grade game for the scarlet-and-whites when he was just 14-years-old.

“Daggers” played for Norwood for three seasons in the SANFL and was the 21st man (first emergency) for South Australia in the SA versus Vic clash in 1964.

He estimates he played some 700 injury free games of footy over the years with Norwood, Appila, Jamestown, Buckleboo, starting with and finishing with Booleroo Centre.

During his football career he won two Mail Medals in 1961 and 1967 and was runner-up on four occasions in ’60, ’63, ’68 and ’69. He played in the local cricket competition and managed four games in District Cricket in Adelaide.

Daryl’s sporting achievements have become known statewide, my father who lived in the Barossa, and was an avid Norwood supporter, inquired of me shortly after I moved to Booleroo had I caught up with a Daryl Koch.

Growing up in the area “Daggers” enjoyed fishing, especially back in the day when you could catch fish using drag nets around, The Barrows and Pt Germein areas. Another of his loves was the social interaction at Saturday night dances and cabarets.

“‘Daggers’ played for Norwood for three seasons in the SANFL and was the 21st man (first emergency) for South Australia in the SA versus Vic clash in 1964.”

“Daggers” enjoyed his working life, in particular what was known as the Coast Run when he worked for Booleroo Agencies.

He met many people who have become lifetime friends and he enjoyed the stopovers at their farms and a cool refreshing ale at the end of a day’s work.

During 2016 “Daggers” was really ill and the best place for him was as a resident at the Booleroo Centre District Hospital.

In July of that year he went back to the place where he was born in 1943.

He notes that, with some sheer determination and fantastic support from hospital staff, his life has been turned around.

He has become the keeper of the northern area garden that he tends on a daily basis commencing at 5.30am on most days.

He knows exactly how many plants are in the garden, 92 tomatoes, 300 cucumber seedlings, 90 strawberries, 94 sweet corn, 300 onions, 28 butternuts, 1000 carrots, 600 beetroot, 60 beans, along with celery, lettuce, silverbeet, rock melons, potatoes, Queensland blues, capsicums, rhubarb, zucchinis, and radishes.

Tomato plants six feet high with many fruit on the vines are trellised on intricate bamboo structures, “Daggers” attributes his gardening abilities to watching his mother who was a keen gardener and he is just following in her footsteps.

Produce from the garden is used in the hospital, is sold and also turned into relishes and sauces also being sold, so that more plants can be purchased.

The smiley happy face that he shared with fellow classmates all those years ago, along with a sense of fun and mischief is still evident in Daggers’ eyes as you talk to him about his life.