‘Simply beautiful’: Family, friends and former greats farewell Symonds

Australian cricket royalty joined family and friends at a private funeral service in Townsville farewelling Andrew Symonds on Friday before the public paid tribute to the popular all-rounder at a memorial later in the day.

Symonds was tragically killed in a car accident earlier this month.

Former Test captain Ricky Ponting, legendary wicketkeepers Adam Gilchrist and Ian Healy and Ashes heroes Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee were among the cricketing greats who were joined by Queensland rugby league icons Darren Lockyer and Gorden Tallis.

Gilchrist described the private service as “just simply beautiful”.

“I’ve not seen a congregation be so moved,” he said. “It was full of sadness, but just such wonderful, beautiful memories of a guy that just gave so much of himself to so many people unconditionally.”

Queensland and Australian teammate Matthew Hayden was unable to attend because of commentary commitments in the IPL but recorded a song highlighting Symonds’ love of family, cricket, rugby league and the great outdoors, which was played at the funeral.

“Haydos wrote the music, wrote the lyrics and sang it,” Gilchrist said. “It was magic. It encapsulated perfectly who Roy was.”

Gilchrist said the first thing he thinks of about Symonds is his commitment to team.

“His friendship, his mateship, he was loyal almost to a fault,” Gilchrist said. “He was mischievous character, but his sense of loyalty, of wanting to think of everyone else more than himself, do whatever he could contribute on and off the field to help others.

“Something that’s really jumped out in the last week and a half, we [former teammates] have all spoken so much about Roy, shared so many stories, and there’s been barely a mention of his cricketing exploits.

“He was one of the game’s great cricketers, all-round talents. Ricky Ponting says he would pick him in any team in any format of all time.

“So that’s a testament to the quality of cricketer he was, but we’re talking about Roy as a bloke and he was just a pure heart who found his way into trouble as well as anyone, then he was remorseful. He dusted himself off, and was so apologetic, and then he just had another go at trying to get it right.

“He was loyal beyond belief, just good fun.”

Symonds’ children, Chloe and Billy, and their mother Laura were consoled by guests, with son Billy holding his father’s Akubra hat.

The coffin was surrounded by an array of hats, a cricket bat, a crab pot and a bouquet of flowers.

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