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Special prayers for Dyer

23 August 2003   Sunday Herald Sun
By MARY PAPADAKIS and CHRIS TINKLER

FOOTY legend Jack "Captain Blood" Dyer will be honoured in a prayer service at the church where he served as an altar boy.

The 89-year-old Richmond star passed away in his sleep at Box Hill Hospital at 1pm yesterday, suffering pneumonia.

Dyer had been moved from his Kew nursing home after falling ill on Thursday.

His son Jack, 62, was at his bedside and said his father suffered no pain.

"The doctors said the pneumonia was one last battle he couldn't win; his body simply, finally, folded up," Jack said.

A special prayer service will be held at St Ignatius Catholic Church, in Richmond, where Dyer was once altar boy.

He will be buried at Springvale alongside his wife, Sybil, who died in 1967.

One of Richmond's greatest and fiercest players, Dyer played 312 games with the Tigers between 1931 and 1949 and kicked 443 goals. He coached the club 225 times between 1941 and 1952.

Dyer played in Richmond premiership sides in 1934 and 1943, when he was captain-coach, and captained Victoria in 1941 and 1949.

Later, as a football commentator, he was noted for his unique expressions and misplaced use of words.

Despite his fearsome nickname, Dyer was only reported once.

He earned his Captain Blood tag in a game against Fitzroy (now the Brisbane Lions) in the 1930s when he crashed through three players.

Dyer won six Best and Fairest awards and is the most revered figure at Richmond's Punt Rd headquarters.

Emotional tributes poured in last night.

Premier Steve Bracks said Dyer's legend would live on.

"Jack Dyer was one of the great football legends, a captain, coach and premiership player. He was a rare breed of footballer who achieved just about every football accolade and honour," he said.

"Most Victorians will also remember Jack went on to be one of the great TV sporting personalities."

Sports Minister and former Carlton ruckman Justin Madden said: "Captain Blood was a champion footballer and an outstanding character of a football era long gone.

"People of Victoria, regardless of who they barrack for, will always have fond memories of the legend of Captain Blood and the character that Jack Dyer was."

AFL chief Andrew Demetriou said: "Jack Dyer was one of the great legends of our game and everyone associated with football would pass on their sympathies and condolences to his family."

Demetriou said the AFL would discuss tributes with Richmond Football Club tomorrow.

Richmond president Clinton Casey said players would wear black armbands at today's match against Port Adelaide.

"This is an extremely sad day for the Richmond Football Club," he said.

"Some of the finest footballers . . . have played for Richmond, but the greatest of them all was John Raymond Dyer."

Geelong legend and former World of Sport co-host Bob Davis was deeply saddened.

"I just don't have words good enough for Jack," he said. "He was just solid gold.

"The Captain Blood image was not exactly true because, away from the field, he was a great family man and to me, he was like a father."

Former Tigers coach Tommy Hafey said: "He was a legend, he was our best and biggest player.

"Everyone will remember Jack for who he was and how he played the game."

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said it was "a sad loss for football".

"He was one of the first multi-media superstars of VFL/AFL football."