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Devastating scenes in public farewell for Tommy Raudonikis

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
A Tommy Raudonikis' picture is positioned proudly as wife Trish watches the memorial service from the crowd.
Tommy Raudonikis' wife Trish and other family members attended Monday's public memorial service. Pic: Getty

A who's who of Australian sporting icons, friends, family and members of the public turned out in droves to honour the extraordinary life of Tommy Raudonikis on Monday.

The Australian sporting community was rocked by tragic news of Raudonikis' death earlier in April.

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The larger-than-life rugby league icon lost his long battle with cancer at the age of 70 - just six days away from his 71st birthday.

On Monday, fans were given their final opportunity to say goodbye to the league great at a public memorial at the iconic Sydney Cricket ground.

The general public was invited to attend the service, which was hosted by commentator Ray Warren.

Seen here are some of the many league identities who attended the Sydney service.
Ray Warren, Mark Carroll and Graeme O'Grady were among the many league identities in attendance. Pic: Getty

The legendary caller delivered a stirring speech in which he described Raudonikis as the “most competitive to have ever played the game”.

Raudonikis was a Western Suburbs Magpies great and the current Wests Tigers squad were there for the memorial service, as well as club coach Michael Maguire, chairman Lee Hagipantelis and chief executive Justin Pascoe.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo and ARL commission chair Peter V’landys were also in attendance, with league greats Paul Sironen, Steve Roach, Ben Elias and Garry Jack among the many others who came to honour one of the game's biggest personalities.

V’landys drew applause from those gathered after saying: “Thanks to the state government even though you should have given him a state funeral".

"We all heard today of Tommy as a player but what we all would like to be judged as is what we are like as a human," V'landys said.

"If you take the Macquarie Dictionary and look up selflessness, you'll find Tommy."

Pictured here, ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys speaks at the Tommy Raudonikis memorial service.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys paid tribute to Raudonikis in a touching address. Pic: Getty

Rugby league world remembers Tommy Raudonikis

Former teammate John Dorahy said he had an uncanny ability to inspire those around him.

Dorahy shared a story about Raudonikis bringing a shovel into the change rooms that he then threw into a window as a means of revving the team up.

"Tommy crossed all boundaries. Yes, he was a larrikin. Yes, he was a working class man. But he was also a bloody good mate," Dorahy said about his former teammate.

"I can see him up there talking with Ned [Noel Kelly], talking with Keith Holman and talking with Dallas [John Donnelly] … making Lidcombe Oval the place to be in heaven. Tommy was an inspirational captain and great halfback.

"He was also a mentor to many, which you don't hear too often. He was a great friend who cared for you but also for rugby league.

"Tommy was the rugby league fire of the era. You need someone like Tommy in every football team you take you forward; follow me. It drove the team to winning results.

Newtown Jets director Terry Rowney said part of what made Tommy special was his genuine respect and care for other human beings - even ones he'd never met.

"He was one of the most unique players to have ever played at Newtown," Rowney said.

Tommy Raudonikis' wife Trish Brown is seen here with other members of the icon's family.
Tommy Raudonikis' wife Trish Brown and other family members paid their respects to the Aussie sporting icon. Pic: Getty

"If he spoke to the Prime Minster, he paid attention. If he spoke to a battler, he paid attention. If he spoke to a kid, he paid attention.

"He stood for the position of, 'We are not just going to make up the numbers, we are going to have a real go'.

"He made a difference to people - many of which he had never met."

Apart from the many sporting and other personalities, Raudonikis' wife Trish Brown and family members were also in attendance for Monday's memorial service.

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