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Football farewells Jack Dyer

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Mr T.

Staff member
Aug 11, 2007
27 August, 2003 by Jordan Chong,

A true legend of the game was farewelled in grand style on Wednesday morning as the football world gathered to celebrate the life of Jack Dyer.

St Ignatius Church in the heart of Richmond was filled to its 800-seat capacity before the 10 o'clock start, with hundreds outside forced to listen to the service on speakers.

At the church where Dyer was an alter boy and where he was married, Richmond games record-holder Kevin Bartlett and close friend Bob Davis delivered eulogies that were interspersed with laughter from the congregation.

In a curious mix of religious practice - hymns, communion, gospel readings - and comedy, the pair told stories about Dyer and shared individual moments with him that provided a wonderful insight into his personality.

They spoke at a lectern that featured a huge picture of Dyer in his glory days wearing a Tigers jumper. Below that sat a simple black and yellow flower arrangement with Dyer's number 17.

Davis enthralled an appreciative audience by recalling their first meeting during a trip to Sydney for an interstate game where Dyer was the Victorian captain-coach.

"From then on, I was Jack's friend as everybody was Jack's friend," David said.

"For all you Richmond people, it is fantastic to have someone of the stature that completely embodies the whole thought of the game."

Those in the congregation who hadn't seen the six-time best and fairest winner play, knew him well from his time on Channel Seven's World of Sport.

"There isn't any doubt that together with (Lou Richards) they just made Sunday."

With due respect to the priests presiding over the service, Davis was quick to add: "Excuse me over there Monsignor and the other priests."

"Jack has the church to thank for his eternal life. He also will get eternal life from the AFL, from the football."

"Jack Dyer is the name. Jack Dyer is just what AFL football embodies."

Bartlett described Dyer as an icon, symbol, inspiration and motivator of the Richmond football club and credits him for helping keep the club alive during the 'Save our Skins' campaign in the 1980s.

"He's been the spirit of the yellow and black through that famous catch-cry 'eat em alive', carrying what's got to be surely the most famous nickname in the history of the game - 'Captain Blood'."

"He lifted spirits during the depression and world war, he gave masses something to cheer about, smile about and talk about."

The pair first met when Dyer offered some encouragement when young Bartlett was injured early in an under-19s game.

"When you're sitting there by yourself and you looked up and see Jack Dyer there, what a boost it was for me. What a fantastic thing for a bloke to do, an absolute legend of the game coming round, seeing a person who he's never met before in his life."

"Jack played at a time when players played for the love of the game. And the game loved Jack Dyer," Bartlett said tearfully before walking off the stage to the warm applause of the crowd.

At the end of the ceremony, pall bearers Paul Devine, John Devine, Brendan Curry and Greg Houghton walked the coffin through a guard of honour made up of the current squad of Richmond players.

The funeral procession then made its way back to Punt Road Oval, via police escort in recognition of his years in the force, where the club has planned a day of celebration for its most revered hero.

It's 54 years to the day since Dyer ran out for the last time as a player. In that match - against Geelong - he booted six goals, including one with his last kick in the game.
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