January, 2019

Crowd of 2000 pays tribute to Phillip Hughes at SCG

Tribute: Fans pay their respects to Phillip Hughes at the SCG on Wednesday. Photo: Dallas KilponenAs it happened: our coverage of Phillip Hughes’ funeralThousands farewell Hughes in MacksvilleMegan Hughes’ promise to her brotherMichael Clarke fights back tears in emotional tributeSean Abbott’s toughest day
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A veil of melancholy descended on the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday afternoon as about 2000 people gathered to farewell Phillip Hughes, felled at the famous wicket eight days earlier.

They sat among the blades of grass where Hughes had taken to the field for the final time, watching a live projection of the 25-year-old’s funeral from his home town of Macksville.

Behind them, a row of cricket bats stretched the width of the SCG, each one inscribed with a milestone from Hughes’ brilliant career, now forever immortalised with his final score: 63 not out.

The Bradman and Noble stands projected Hughes’ career statistics, including his phenomenal double century in 2009 in South Africa, where as a precocious 20-year-old he wrote himself into history books and into the hearts of his fans.

The wicket where he fell was roped off, but a makeshift shrine nearby brimmed with flowers, cricket bats and handwritten notes.

“I stood at the wicket and knelt down to touch the grass and I swear he was with me,” captain Michael Clarke said in Macksville, his voice faltering as he spoke of the place that will now “forever be a sacred ground for me”.

Indeed, the SCG is woven into Hughes’s legacy. He donned the baggy green there more than at any other venue, and it was where he made his first-class debut and played his first Test on Australian soil.

With Clarke’s parting words – “so rest in peace, my little brother, I’ll see you out in the middle” – people in the members’ stand rose in the seats, showing their solidarity with a captain devastated by the loss of his close friend.

In the stands and on the pitch, tissues ducked beneath sunglasses, while others let the tears flow unabated. All of them were processing the inconceivable prospect that a young man, of seemingly invincible talent, can be struck down playing the very game that is part of the nation’s identity.

Many in the crowd had not met Hughes, but through the video memorials that have captured his vivacious spirit and boyish charm, they, as have thousands of others, had come to love him in his passing.

Wearing cricketing whites emblazoned with “408”, Hughes’ now-retired baggy green number, Joanna Walczak, 49, said she and her son Adrian, 24, felt compelled to pay their respects to “such a great young life which was ended in here”.

“My son is the same age, and I cannot possibly imagine how his parents feel right now,” Walczak said.

For others, Hughes was the embodiment of the quintessential Aussie identity, one long cherished but now so rarely glimpsed it exists largely in national mythology.

The cricket-playing, farm-loving larrikin, browned by the outback sun, and imbued with the knowledge that peace resides in a few self-evident truths: with family, with friends, and in the simple pleasures of country life.

For Nick Tracy and, his friend, Conor Fahey, both 16, attending the SCG memorial was about “paying our respects to a fellow cricketer and a great talent”.

“We understand what it’s like to face balls like that,” Tracy said, “but [you] never really expect it to turn out like that.”

As Hughes’ casket left the Macksville High School sports hall on the shoulders of his father, brother and close friends, the crowds dwindled at the SCG. Undoubtedly, many walked back into the dying hours of the working day inexplicably bereft by the loss of a man they never knew.

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Essendon players fear delay to AFL anti-doping tribunal

Amid the latest legal stoush, the Essendon players caught up in the supplements drama have reiterated they want the AFL anti-doping tribunal to begin as slated.
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Most of the 34 players, of whom about 18 are still at Essendon, have taken provisional suspensions, meaning they can train with the club but cannot play.

If, ultimately, there are suspensions, they will hope the provisional suspension period is taken into account when any punishment is handed out.

They, naturally, want to get to that deliberation point as soon as possible. However, the Supreme Court hearing on Wednesday, which has been adjourned to next Wednesday, threatens to delay the start of the December 15 hearing before the AFL’s anti-doping tribunal.

David Grace QC, representing 32 of the 34 players on behalf of the AFL Players Association, was keen for the tribunal hearing to begin as scheduled.

“As I said in court, the players are anxious that this matter proceed as soon as possible without any delay,” he said.

Lawyers for the two players who have sought separate counsel were not represented in court on Wednesday.

AFL lawyer Renee Enbom said the league also wanted the case to begin on time and revealed that if it did not, there were concerns one of the witnesses may flee overseas in a bid to avoid the tribunal, which does not have the powers of the justice system.

Witnesses do not give evidence under oath in the AFL tribunal.

“There is one other important consideration, in my view, and that is that there is evidence before the court that one of the respondents has indicated that he might travel overseas to avoid the process,” Enbom said.

“For that reason, we would like to see this application be determined quickly and, if your honour does make an order, that the subpoena be served on that person as quickly as possible.”

Enbom did not disclose who the witness was.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority has sought subpoenas on its two key witnesses, Shane Charter, a convicted drug importer, and compound pharmacist Nima Alavi.

The AFL will want the tribunal to begin on time because, if there are any suspensions, it will most likely require it to enact a ruling allowing the Bombers to acquire stand-in players from state leagues.

Justice Clyde Croft has set aside two days for next week’s hearing.

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Wollongong’s Eat Street Market postponed

Thisweek’s rolling stormy forecasts have put a dampener on Wollongong’s highly-anticipated weekly night food markets, with organisers announcing they will postpone the event by one week.
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Thirroul’s Kirrily Sinclair, who runs the Foragers Markets at Bulli Showground, had planned to turn the newly revamped Crown Street Mall into a foodie haven with the Eat Street Markets from this Thursday.

However, she has now announced the start will be put off until the following week, citing ‘‘stormy weather reports for Thursday evening’’.

The markets will host hot and sweet food stalls, and include live music, dining areas and ‘‘chill-out spaces’’, according to Ms Sinclair.

Stallholders will include local restaurants and cafes, including west Crown Street cafe Sandygoodwich, Amigos Mexican restaurant and Three Chimneys.

The markets will be held each Thursday from December 11 from 5pm-10pm at the western end of Crown Street Mall.

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Rotary gets kitted up

MILDURA’S Rotary Club is hoping to improve the lives of women and babies in developing countries by creating “birthing kits”.
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Fast hands: Sisters Hannah Dichiera and Kate Dichiera, from the Rotary Club of Irymple, help out Rotary Club of Mildura to put together packing 2000 birthing kits for women in developing countries. Picture: Louise Donges

The club has put together 2000 packages for the Birthing Kit Foundation (BKF) Australia, dedicated to improving conditions for women who give birth at home in remote areas of developing countries.

Rotary member Vince Marciano said it took about five hours for a group of about 30 Rotary Club members and volunteers to compile the kits.

“We did rather well. We did complete all 2000,” he said.

The Saturday birthing kit assembly day was the second the club has held and Mr Marciano said it intended to turn it into an annual activity.

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Disability Awareness Week at the Collie Library

Play: Lucas Cherry plays with the sensory activity on the wall of the Collie library with mum Neisha.THE Collie Library marked Disability Awareness week on Wednesday, with activities for both adults and kids.
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Library manager Alison Kidman said the quiz for adults was designed to show how the Collie Library is accessible to people with disabilities.

“We have large print books and audio books. The library is wheelchair accessible and the shelves are on wheels to be moved out of the way if necessary,” she said.

While the mums learnt about disability awareness through the quiz, children had a ball playing with the sensory wall on the glass.

Nearly 1000 events have been registered in Australia, which is the highest number in the 22-year history of the event.

Disability Services Minister Helen Morton said the state government’s ‘Count Me In’ vision was at the heart of Disability Awareness Week.

“The Count Me In vision is that we all live in welcoming communities which facilitate citizenship, friendship, mutual support and a fair go for everyone,” she said.

“The State Government continues to drive change in the disability sector that supports this vision, and we are proud of initiatives such as WA NDIS My Way, which got off to a wonderful start and saw 518 people in the Lower South West transition to the trial in its first three months.

Disability Services Commission director general Ron Chalmers said the ‘Count Me In’ program was designed to encourage community inclusion.

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