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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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Matches are sure to pack a punch

PUT ’EM UP: Good mates Liam O’Hara and Steve Ellery will go head-to-head in the boxing ring this Saturday to raise money for charity. The idea came to them over a beer. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 120314cdukin1BATHURST, get ready to rumble!
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Sixteen upstandingmembers of the Bathurst community will go head-to-head in the ring for charity on Saturday in the inaugural 2BS/Bathurst Lions Club Christmas Miracle Appeal Charity Boxing Night.

And the organisers of the night, who came up with the idea over a beer, will be the third pair to pull on the gloves.

In one corner we have41-year-old Steve Ellery from Bathurst Real Estate.

This friendly giant stands at 185 centimetres tall and weighs 108 kilograms, with a reach of 60cm – he is both head and shoulders above the competition.

Opposing him is Paddy’s Hotel licensee Liam O’Hara.

This 39-year-old is 178cm tall, weighs in at 100kg, and has a reach of 56cm. His greatest asset is his hard-hitting wit.

Mr Ellery and Mr O’Hara have known each other for a number of years, but their mateship won’t see either one hold back from putting up a good fight.

“My strategy is to get him first – in the nose,” Mr O’Hara said.

All the fighters on the night are amateurs in the sport, but that won’t stop them delivering great entertainment.

“It is sure to provide some quality entertainment – except for Liam O’Hara, because he can’t fight,” Mr Ellery joked.

There will be eight fights in total with three two-minute long rounds. Following the fight will be a raffle where patrons can win some great prizes.

The Charity Boxing Night will get underway at Paddy’s Hotel, Kelso at 5pm on Saturday night.

Tickets for the night are $20 for general admission, $40 for grandstand seating, and $125 per head for a corporate table.

Visit Paddy’s Hotel or call 6332 4470 to secure your tickets for the night. Bookings are essential.

Dale Watson v Jeff HudsonJames McLaren v Sam PheilsKurt Hancock v Dave SellersKevin Hanrahan v Trent GuihotBrett Frazer v Luke BoothSteve Ellery v Liam O’HaraLuke Milgate v Brendan AllenMatty Bourke v Phil GeorgeThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Libs repeating ALP errorsopinion

Sean FordIT IS rather deflating to see relatively new governments in Canberra and Tasmania repeating key mistakes of their predecessors.
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Much of the Abbott government’s agenda is sound (and quite a bit isn’t).

Apart from the government’s consultative and negotiating skills in dealing with a motley crew of crossbench senators – think bull, china shop – the real shocker has involved broken promises.

As opposition leader, Tony Abbott made great sport of punishing Labor’s Julia Gillard over her “no carbon tax under a government I lead” promise, which was broken after the 2010 election.

Last year, just before an election which was essentially already won, Mr Abbott promised there would be no cuts or changes in a series of areas, including the ABS and SBS.

He also promised no cuts in education and health, no changes to pensions and no change to the GST.

A year and a bit later, the government is cutting funding to the public broadcasters.

As it should, although it is not going anywhere near far enough, at least in the case of the ABC. But there was no need to make such a daft promise before the election.

Between them, Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott may have destroyed the possibility of public trust in politicians for the forseeable future.

Further, there is scope for funding cuts in some areas of health and education, and no responsible leader would rule them out.

Ditto with pension changes. The pension system could use some tweaking.

So why promise not to do things which at least should be considered?

Particularly after such an action largely destroying Ms Gillard prime ministership, and being the chief prosecutor of the case against her.

Now we have the Hodgman government – rightly – downsizing the size of the public service.

It has taken a couple of wrong options, however.

Despite knowing the public service was too big, it first opted for a pay freeze, in an effort to protect jobs.

When that failed, it started targeting extra positions, and frontline services will be affected.

The Liberals’ attack on the Giddings government over its public sector cuts focused largely on cuts to frontline services.

The Liberals would protect and grow frontline jobs, we were led to believe.

Well, guess what?

There remain scads of backroom positions in the public sector which should go.

The Liberals (and the Giddings government) should have been more scientific in choosing which positions would go.

Getting rid of unnecessary backroom jobs is a very different thing to getting rid of productives, such as classroom teachers.

Incidentally, if the Abbott government is really telling the state government it has no money to extend Bass Strait subsidies, the feds are talking rubbish.

If the feds can propose spending nearly $400 million to boost UTAS, and squillions for a gold-plated paid parental leave scheme, they can clearly afford to fund a fair deal on freight for Tasmania.

A fair deal, no more.

The feds are correct to push for reform of Labor’s job-killing coastal shipping laws.

But it will not be enough to allow Tasmania to fully capitalise on export opportunities, particularly to Asia.

Bass Strait shipping costs are ludicrously high.

Extending the freight equalisation scheme at a fair rate to all north-bound exports would be a real game-changer.

That would not be an unreasonable handout to a state which cannot get its act together.

It would be a national government ensuring a level playing field for all states in a federation, and boosting vital private sector jobs big-time.

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Kieran Foran to make decision on his future at Manly before start of NRL season

Surf’s up: Layne Beachley, Kerri Pottharst, Kieran Foran and Barton Lynch at the launch of Manly’s Nines jumper. Surf’s up: Layne Beachley, Kerri Pottharst, Kieran Foran and Barton Lynch at the launch of Manly’s Nines jumper.
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Surf’s up: Layne Beachley, Kerri Pottharst, Kieran Foran and Barton Lynch at the launch of Manly’s Nines jumper.

Surf’s up: Layne Beachley, Kerri Pottharst, Kieran Foran and Barton Lynch at the launch of Manly’s Nines jumper.

Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran insists he won’t let his contract negotiations become a distraction for the Sea Eagles, saying he intends to make a decision on his future before the start of the season.

The Kiwi five-eighth is off contract at Manly at the end of 2015, with several clubs keen to lure the premiership-winning playmaker away from the Sea Eagles for 2016 and beyond.

While Foran admitted he was weighing up all his options, he said it was important he didn’t rush into a decision.

“It would be nice [to get it done soon], I certainly don’t want it to be a distraction going through to next year,” Foran said.

“I’m also wary, I don’t want to rush into any decisions just yet. I’m enjoying my break at the moment. Once I throw the boots on and get back to training next year I’ll be able to assess my options.”

Contract discussions plagued the Sea Eagles throughout 2014, with the futures of Anthony Watmough and Glenn Stewart dominating the headlines.

Having witnessed the effect of that on his team last season, Foran is determined not to repeat history.

“I don’t want it dragging on through the season, you saw what that did to us this season gone,” he said. “I’m sure there won’t be any of that. But as long as I get it wrapped up before the season starts I’ll be pretty happy.”

Canterbury, Parramatta and the Sydney Roosters are the favourites to snare Foran if he decides to leave the northern beaches.

However, Foran insists it would be difficult to leave the club he has led to two premierships.

“It would be [hard to leave Manly],” he said.

“I’ve been in Manly since I was a 16-year-old, so I’ve grown to love the place and I love the area. Certainly it’s very close to home for me. I’ll get back to training, assess the options and make a decision then.”

The inaugural Auckland Nines was a raging success in February, creating plenty of excitement in the tournament for next year.

The tournament will be played over the weekend from January 31 at Eden Park, and while Manly coach Geoff Toovey will be reluctant to risk his star player so close to the season, Foran hinted that he would like to take part in the tournament after missing this year’s event back home in New Zealand.

“I think it’s a great initiative,” Foran said.

“I sat at home last year and watched it from the couch. It would be great to be a part of it this year.

“I think it ran really smoothly last year and the fans really loved it. I get back into training in early January – hopefully Tooves will let me play.

“I’ve had a long year and on top of the Four Nations it will probably come down to whether he would want me to have the extra kilometres in the legs.

“Like I said, I thought it was a great initiative and I would like to be a part of it. I pulled up good from the Four Nations campaign. I’m just resting up now, enjoying a bit of a break and some family time, but I’m looking forward to getting back into it in the start of next year.

“There’s a lot of new faces down at training, but it’s all going really well. Everyone is competing well with one another and they said it’s a really good feel there at the moment.”

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Fun day on the course to benefit residents in need

Four local charities will tomorrow receive a share of almost $40,000 raised through a charity golf day.
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Pitching in: Jim Kirkpatrick, Wayne Alpen, Ken Wakefield and Ashley Brown during the Annual Charity Golf Day for Chances for Children at Mildura Golf Club last month.

A cheque for $20,000 will be presented to Chances for Children, $10,000 to Mallee Accommodation and Support Program and $4556 to both Sunraysia Residential Services and Sunraysia CancerResources.

Event sponsors Mildura Fruit Company, Wakefield Transport and Nangiloc Colignan Farms raised the funds through donations, raffles, and a lunch during a day out on the greens.

“Each hole was also sponsored and we had different categories like nearest pin and longest drive. So by doing that the money rolled in pretty quickly,” Mildura Fruit Company marketing manager Ferdi Bergamin said.

The event has been held annually since 2005, with fundraising steadily increasing each year after starting at $10,000.

The funds will be presented at Rendezvous restaurant about 1pm.

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Phillip Hughes death: WA batsman says ‘it could have been me’

Hughes farewell at the WACAAustralia says goodbye to Phillip HughesClarke: Hughes spirit will live on
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For Morley opening batsman Cam Briscoe, the tragedy of Phillip Hughes’ death hit home at the WACA memorial on Wednesday.

Standing solemnly throughout the service – cricket bat in one hand, Australian flag in the other – Mr Briscoe says he was lucky not to meet the same tragic fate as Hughes seven years ago.

“I was a lucky lad myself, because I got hit in the face when I was opening batting for Morley and my mate held me in his arms while I was shaking and having fits and convulsions,” he said after the WACA memorial.

“It could have been me. The guys were talking about that the other Tuesday.

“On top of that, young Chris Thomson was one of my juniors.”

Former UK county fast-bowler Thomson fractured his skull and lost his speech in 2009 after an unprovoked attack outside a nightclub in Leeds, shortly after being recruited from Perth by Clayton West Cricket Club in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.

Mr Briscoe was behind efforts to raise $4000  for Thomson’s medical bills after he returned to Perth.

On Saturday, Morley Cricket Club held a memorial of its own for Hughes.

“We had a 63-seconds silence in the middle of the pitch and that was a little bit emotional, but we got on with it,” Mr Briscoe said.

“But that night, after a few beers when I got home, I was a little bit shattered – for one we’d lost,  but I was emotional thinking about what happened to me and how easily things could have turned bad.

“It brings things back into perspective that you can’t take anything for granted.

“A kid of 25 who’s not with us anymore,  that’s something.

“You pay good hard-earned dollars to watch these guys and to cheer them on – it’s what keeps people going in down times, like Phar Lap and Bradman did in the old days of war and the Depression.

“Life can only go on.”

Mr Briscoe said he felt most for 22-year-old NSW fast bowler Sean Abbott, whose bouncer felled Hughes.

“I feel strongly for young Sean Abbott – I’d hate to think what he’s going through,” he said.

“I think a lot of people have forgotten about him.

“I just hope he picks up a cherry and has another crack.

“It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

“But if they had that split-second again they’d be a different person.” Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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