Wednesday’s funeral of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes, who passed away last week after being struck in the neck by a bouncer at the SCG, was a deeply moving celebration to a life unexpectedly cut short just days before his 26th birthday.
The emotionally charged service before 5000 mourners was broadcast around the country, from his hometown in Macksville.
As friends and family remembered Phillip Hughes (1988-2104), here are some of the things we learned.
1. Sorry Resting.
The two-word message, left on the door of the Hughes family residence in East Street, Macksville: a gentle reminder to respect the family’s privacy during this time.
2. Youth Group’s Forever Young was the opening song for the service.
A moving tribute, with a poignant message.
3. The support wasn’t just from Macksville.
Crowds gathered at cricket grounds all across the nation, including the WACA, to watch the funeral
4. The population of Macksville doubled overnight for the service.
The small, quaint country towns population is normally just 2500.
5. 80% of mourners inside the funeral were locals.
The Hughes family made this request as a mark of respect to the people closest to Hughes during his humble, country upbringing.
6. Michael Clarke’s tear-filled, heartwrenching speech.
“I don’t know about you but I keep looking for him… to see his face pop around the corner.
“We must dig in and get through to tea. And we must play on. So rest in peace, my little brother.
“I’ll see you out in the middle.”
Read the entire address here.
7. Bowler Sean Abbott was at the funeral.
A brave appearance.
8. A bat leaned on the casket.
9. The service was held at Hughes’ old high school.
The family wished to have the funeral at the church where Hughes was baptised, but there were too many people to fit in the country chapel and 5000 mourners attended Macksville High School for the service, with 300 to 400 dignitaries, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
10. His nickname, Boof, came from his grandfather.
Cousin Nino Ramunno recounted how when their Italian grandfather, Vince, saw Phillip for the first time, his first word was “Boofoon”, which roughly translated means large. It became his first nickname and shortened to Boof.
11. The first time he was asked to play cricket, he said no.
His brother Jason, asked Phillip to join the under 10s team for a game because they were short a player and in danger of forfeiting. He’d never played cricket before and said no, but eventually joined the side as a tailender.
12. As a toddler, he loved playing with Tonka trucks.
“He had two sets of Tonka trucks, one for inside use and one for outside. When outside he loved playing with them in the dirt and of course the dirt was everywhere. Mostly on Phillip,” cousin Nino said.
13. “Phillip was a mummy’s boy.”
Phillip idolised is mother, often seeking her advice and guidance.
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) December 3, 2014
14. When Hughes was 12 when he hit 159 not out.
That score, in the final of the NSW Primary Schools Cricket carnival against Hornsby, helped Northern NSW win the tournament for the first time.
— Kate Ashmor (@KateAshmor) November 27, 2014
15. He loved fashion.
Cleaning and washing were not strong points. Neither was cooking. Hughes was on a first name basis with every restaurant in Breakfast Point, where he lived in Sydney, cousin Nino said.
But he did a lot of ironing, because he thought of himself as a bit of a fashionista. He’s spend hours getting ready Nino said and “Boy, he loved a mirror.”
— Nick Compton (@thecompdog) December 2, 2014
16. Cricket Australia made this tribute, played at the funeral.
17. His other great passion was Angus cattle.
He’d tell captain Michael Clarke about them. All 150 in the herd were named after cricketers and he was obsessed with genetics and breeding. He had a deal with himself: he would buy a new cow to add to the herd every time he scored a hundred. “The herd grew quite quickly,” his cousin Nino observed.
18. Batting coach Neil D’Costa set him the goal of replacing opener Matthew Hayden.
D’Costa said to Phillip that it could take hard work, dedication, tenacity, commitment, drive and the ability to listen and learn to achieve this goal. He asked Hughes are you ready for it? The reply, without hesitation, yes. When Hayden retired, Hughes took his place.
19. He first played rep cricket at age 9.
He was nine when picked in the Nambucca-Bellingen under 12s inter-district team. He opened the batting and scored 64. That number became his one-day international number for Australia.
20. The last time he played with his brother, Jason, the partnership was 210.
It was “a fitting final stand between us,” his brother said. Then Phillip threw him the ball and Jason took his best first grade figures of 5/19 off 10 overs.
“A game I will forever forget and I’m proud to have been able to share this moment with you,” Jason said.
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