By Jane Bardon, August 27, 2003 - 10:58AM
The former Richmond Tigers player and captain, who died at the age of 89 on Saturday, was remembered by family, friends and colleagues at the St Ignatius Church in Richmond.
With his coffin draped in a tiger skin, another former Richmond great, Kevin Bartlett, and Bob Davis, his co-host on the hugely popular Sunday television show World of Sport, delivered eulogies to the man known as "Captain Blood"
In his eulogy Bartlett paid tribute to Dyer both during his momentous days as a player during the 1930s depression when he "gave the masses something to smile and talk about," as coach a instrumental in helping to sign and inspire new young stars and later as the elder statesman who led the rallying call to save Richmond from its financial troubles.
"He was the greatest player in the history of Richmond, he has been the icon of the club, the force behind the club and the spirit of Richmond," Mr Barlett said.
Former Geelong player Bob Davis, fondly remembered his days working with Dyer in television. He said eight million people had watched Dyer play over the years, but on television Dyer drew 800 million viewers.
"As soon as the red light went on he was the consummated TV worker and he didn't know it. The more serious he was, the more funny he was. The times that we had together, and that he made for you people, were just sensational."
Mr Davis said Dyer was not just the icon of Richmond, but of AFL and credited him with "almost single-handedly keeping the BFL and AFl together when it was wanting to self destruct".
"Jack Dyer for me is just what AFL embodies. Jack has the church to thank for his eternal life, but he will also get one from AFL because without him AFL would have struggled."
Both men remembered his fearsome reputation as a player with an all or nothing "Eat 'em or die" philosophy which earned him numerous injuries but surprisingly few bookings.
"Jack played at a time when players played for the game and the game loved Jack Dyer," Bartlett said.
Although the mood was sombre, it was undoubtedly a mass for a man of the people as both Bartlett and David drew laughs and applause from those assembled.
Outside the church many former players and fans wore their team colours. Kevin Ryan from the 1958 squad said Dyer taught them many important lessons. "He always said get up straight away and don't let them know they hurt you and he had a great sense of social justice, he looked after the little people."
Richmond's current team formed a guard of honour and the crowd applauded as the hearse drew away.
A public tribute was later held for Dyer at Richmond's Punt Road Oval.
Fans released 312 balloons to celebrate each of the games Dyer played for his beloved Tigers, before ending the day with a rendition of the club's theme song.