Top cop Scott Beard uses football to escape 'death, tragedy'

When your day job is dealing with death and tragedy, it's no surprise you'd look for an escape outside of work.

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Beard says football is good for both his physical and mental health. Source: 1 NEWS

For one of our top cops, it turns out that escape is football.

Best known for his work on the Grace Millane case, detective inspector Scott Beard has played the beautiful game his whole life and coached it for three decades.

“When I’m out on the football field – doesn’t matter if I’m playing, I’m coaching, I’m administrating – I’m not thinking of work,” Beard told 1 NEWS.

“That’s the healthy side of it.”

On a winter Saturday at the Hibiscus Coast Football Club in Auckland, Beard will usually have arrived by 8.30 in the morning and won’t be gone until well after 6pm, carrying out mundane duties for his second home.

He said he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“This is my happy place. Absolutely,” he said.

It’s also a place away from where the public normally sees him as the official face of some of our most heinous crimes.

“A lot of my work is around death and tragedy so I need to have a work life balance.”

For 25 years, the club, with its serene setting and close community, has provided that balance for Beard whether it be as a player, coach, or in his current role as president.

Club member Craig Daly can’t praise him enough.

“He inspires us when we see him in the real world,” Daly said.

“Down here, we're just lucky to have him here really.”

Beard says a dozen kids he's coached have gone on to join the police, though the bonds formed here have also made for one of his toughest days.

Constable Matthew Hunt, the officer killed on duty last year, played for the club. His death hit hard.

“I just remember the day after Matt was killed talking to each of those players individually then collectively in the clubrooms afterwards,” Beard said.

“That was tough.”

It’s also given him memories he cherishes thanks to a community that leans on each other.

“A lot of these players I’ve coached I go to their 21sts, I go to their 30ths, I go to their engagements, I go to their weddings.”

It’s also showed him sport can stop kids from becoming statistics.

“I see children who aren’t occupied and what happens.

“And we're seeing children younger and younger start getting into crime and burglaries, stealing cars and that’s what we don’t want.”

Let's be real though - he also just loves the competitive side for a game that is his hobby, his passion and above all, his escape.