Michael Clarke was a surprise guest at Andrew Symond’s funeral on Friday as the former Australia captain put his feud with his old mate behind him to pay his respects following the cricket hero’s shock death.
Clarke, who was very close to Symonds when he joined the Australian team before their relationship broke down, said he was ‘devastated’ in an Instagram post following the 46-year-old’s passing earlier this month.
Symonds died at about 10.30pm on Saturday in Hervey Range, 50km west of Townsville in far north Queensland , when his car left the road and rolled.
Symonds opened up on his rift with Michael Clarke to reveal jealousy and money drove the pair apart when he spoke on the Brett Lee podcast just last month, detailing how his $1.8million deal with an IPL club ‘poisoned’ their friendship.
‘Matthew Hayden said to me — when the IPL started, I got a pretty penny to go and play in the IPL — he identified it as there was a bit of jealousy that potentially came into the relationship there,’ he told the podcast.
‘Money does funny things. It’s a good thing but it can be a poison and I reckon it may have poisoned our relationship.’
Their mateship came to an end in 2008, when Symonds was sent home from a Test match in Darwin when he chose fishing over a compulsory team meeting. He felt Clarke – who was Test captain by then – had betrayed him.
Michael Clarke made a surprise appearance at Andrew Symond’s funeral after the cricket pair’s famous fallout
Clarke (L) and Symonds (R) were great mates before a lucrative IPL contract ‘poisoned’ their relationship back in 2008
However, Clarke put his differences aside to attend the family funeral service in Townsville, alongside a host of famous faces
However, Clarke was pictured at Symond’s family funeral service in Townsville on Friday, appearing forlorn as he said goodbye to his old friend.
Symonds’ devastated wife and children clutched Akubras as family and friends gathered to bid one last emotional farewell to the cricket great.
They joined the cricketer’s former Australian teammates, fighting back tears as they gathered at Riverway Stadium on the outskirts of Townsville.
Among the first to arrive just after 10am an hour prior to the service were Symonds’ wife Laura and their children Chloe and Will, each of them carrying hats in a nod to the Aussie larrikin.
Chloe celebrated her tenth birthday last week – just four days after her dad’s sudden death. Both she and little brother later bravely delivered eulogies.
They were followed a short time later by Symonds’ best friend, former Australian and Queensland teammate Jimmy Maher, who delivered a moving tribute hailed as the ‘best eulogy ever’.
Andrew Symonds’ wife Laura and son Will, 8, arrived at the funeral carrying Akubras, his beloved attire
Andrew Symonds’ daughter Chloe, 10, bravely spoke at her dad’s funeral, where she comforted his best mate Jimmy Maher
Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting and teammate Adam Gilchrist (right) were among the cricket greats in attendance
The order of service featured photos of Symonds wearing his beloved Akubra and as a boy aspiring to wear the baggy green
A host of cricket greats have also travelled north, including Adam Gilchrist, Ian Healy, Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh, Glenn McGrath, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson.
West Indies legendary batsman Brian Lara and NRL legends Darren Lockyer and Gordon Tallis were also in attendance.
Gilchrist told Daily Mail Australia after the service Maher delivered the best eulogy he’d ever heard.
‘Jimmy Maher gave what I think is one of the most beautiful eulogies you could ever imagine.
‘He looked the kids in the eye and delivered a message of what he thought Roy would want him to say and it was really touching, really moving,
‘And my day’s just got better because I bumped into Will (Symonds’ son) then and he’s said to me “guess what Gilly? I’m now wicket keeper.’
‘Sorry Roy,’ he said, looking at the sky. ‘I poached him.’
When trying to describe what Symonds was like ‘as a mate’, Gilchrist had to take a moment – tears welling in his eyes.
‘He was a pure heart, he found his way into trouble as good as anyone, but when he did he was remorseful … and then he’d dust himself off and have another go,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
Adam Gilchrist (right with former Aussie captain Ricky Ponting) later told Daily Mail Australia the service was ‘simply beautiful’
Distraught mourners comforted one another in emotional scene as the private service concluded
‘He was loyal, almost to a fault. Mischievous character, but he would do whatever it took to help others – in and off the field.
‘The service was simply beautiful. I’ve not seen a congregation as moved as they were today – full of sadness, but also such beautiful memories of a guy who just gave so much of himself to so many people, unconditionally.’
When asked whether he could believe he was standing at Symonds’ funeral, Gilchrist said ‘No, I can’t’.
‘I can’t believe I was standing there, unable to speak ten minutes ago and I’m trying to talk now, openly and honestly.
‘I literally can’t believe he’s gone, nor could anyone who was at that service today.’
A note was sent to guests saying ‘no tie necessary’ to reflect Symonds’ casual personal style. Throughout his career, he often showed up to semi-formal events wearing shorts and t-shirts.
Former teammates took the brief seriously with chinos and button-up shirts, while others wore three-piece suits.
Many attendees were also dressed in maroon in a nod to Symonds’ love for his home state Queensland.
Mourners greeted each other with hugs, holding back tears, as they came together to pay tribute to Symonds and celebrate his life.
The order of service featured a poem titled ‘You ripper Roy’ celebrating Symonds’ life penned by poet Rupert McCall, which he also read out at the service in honour of his good mate.
‘Fate marks a moment in everyone’s life, the tide turns at dusk and the big fish are rife,’ it reads.
‘Instinct befriends you and confidence grows, talent takes over and everything flows.
‘Where to from here? Well, with him, who’s to say? The ocean is deep and the fella can play.
‘For now, let’s acknowledge the dream of a boy, and the day he fulfilled it…’You ripper Roy’.’
Symonds’ best mate and former teammate Jimmy Maher (right) arrived with his family. The pair had been friends for 30 years
Shattered friends and family fought back tears and embraced each other as they arrived for an emotional send-off
Andrew Symonds’ coffin at the service was surrounded by a host of cricket caps, along with his cricket bat
Emotional mourners comforted each other as they arrived at Riverway Stadium for the 90-minute service
Well-dressed mourners complied with the ‘no-tie necessary’ request in a nod to the late cricketer’s casual personal style
Former Australian cricket coach John Buchanan and his wife attended Symonds’ private funeral
West Indies cricket legend Brian Lara (left) travelled to Townsville to farewell his good mate and former rival
Guests at the service were sombre – completely silent as they sat in the middle of the stadium, as piano played softly in the background.
They were urged to make a donation to Royal Flying Doctor Service in lieu of flowers.
Symonds’ smiling face could be seen on three screens, and on a photo above the coffin – adorned with flowers, sitting behind a table with cricket caps and trinkets.
Cricket stumps were positioned around the marquees.
Nigel Fairbairn was first to speak after the service was opened with a song called ‘Knee Deep’, by Zac Brown Band.
‘I welcome you here to celebrate the life of Andrew Symonds,’ he began.
‘The gratitude his family extends to you all, with the acknowledgement to people who have travelled long distances.
‘Rejoice in the life he led. Celebrate it and learn from it.
‘Andrew’s life was a life well-lived, albeit cut short too early.’
Symonds’ children Chloe and Billy were next to speak, followed by his mother Barbara and sister Louise.
Former Australian and Queensland teammate Matthew Hayden also delivered a video tribute.
As a photographic tribute video played to John Williamson’s iconic hit True Blue, Jimmy Maher – Symonds’ best friend – broke down.
Little Chloe got up from her seat in the front row and gave him a big hug, before she hopped on to her mum’s lap.
Maher tried to maintain composure, taking swigs from a water bottle, before he got up to deliver the eulogy.
Few people knew Symonds better than Maher, his long-time friend and former teammate. The pair first began playing cricket together in the under-10s in the nearby town of Charters Towers.
One of Maher’s fondest memories of the pair’s 30-year friendship was being part of Australia’s victorious 2003 World Cup squad.
Last week, Maher pledged his support to Symonds’ children while speaking with Daily Mail Australia.
The flags were at half-mast as the hearse left the stadium after the service, just before 12.30.
Family, friends and former teammates slowly made their way up the stairs and into a private room in the stadium for the wake – in a sea of black, deep blues, and maroon, the colour of Queensland cricket organisation, the Bulls Masters.
Some guests walked arm-in-arm, comforting each other after saying goodbye to the father-of-two.
Former teammate Matthew Mott told Daily Mail Australia everyone has been ‘dreading this day’.
‘But I just thought it was an outstanding tribute to a great human being,’ he said.
‘It was tough – I was in eyeline with the kids there and I just kept thinking about how he won’t get to see them grow up. He loved them so much and they meant so much to him.
‘I suppose the thing I take out of it is the amount of fishing trips I knocked back because we all got too busy, and you’d just love that opportunity to get back out there and do that again with him.
‘For me, he was like a brother. One of those blokes you take for granted and you think they’ll always be there.
‘You could tell there were a lot of people hurting in there today.
‘It’s a sad moment but it was a great service that celebrated a life well lived. It’s a shame it’s been cut so short and he had so much more to give to a lot of people.
‘Those kids grew up with a loving father and they know he’ll be overlooking them for many years to come.
‘His mum Barbara got up and told a lot of stories about when he was younger – I think a lot of those stories were assumed knowledge, but there wasn’t a dry eye in the house from about half way through.’
Asked how the cricket community was coping with the loss of three greats within just a few months, Mott said he couldn’t make sense of it.
‘I still feel a bit numb about the whole thing.’
‘This one has just rocked us – not just the cricket community, but everyone.’
Former all-rounder Shane Watson was among the busload of cricket greats who arrived for the service together
The who’s who of cricket circles were Townsville to farewell Symonds, including former wicketkeeper Ian Healy
Australian cricket great Mark Waugh was among the many who complied with the ‘no tie necessary’ rule
Symonds also had close ties with the NRL and used to train with the Brisbane Broncos. Pictured is NRL legend Darren Lockyer
Andrew Symonds’ coffin left the stadium in a funeral hearse following the private memorial service
A public service will be held and live-streamed later on Friday afternoon, which gets underway at 2.30pm.
The queue outside the stadium ahead of the public funeral was a few hundred people deep – as Australians from all over flocked to the event.
Queensland cricket officials thought they’d struggle to fill the grandstand, being a school and work day, but it was clear from the moment the doors opened that populating the stands would not be a problem.
One fan said he happened to be in Townsville and thought he’d go to the service.
‘Always loved cricket, and I watched Roy, and I happened to be in town,’ he said.
‘I didn’t go to Shane Warne’s funeral.’
One woman carried a large bunch of flowers into the venue, while others wore Queensland cricket tshirts or green and gold jerseys.
Fans sat in the middle of the stadium while loved ones watched on from the wake – which was held over the grandstand.
The service kicked off with a video showing stills from Symonds’ childhood, and work of his greatest moments in cricket – namely, the moment he leveled a streaker on the pitch.
It was a favourite among the crowd on Friday afternoon.
Instead of curating a sad event, organizers made an effort to keep the mood upbeat. Cricket moments aside, videos and photos of Symonds fishing in Townsville were shown to hundreds of fans.
‘Applause is good,’ Ian Healy told the crowd when the film concluded.
‘Today’s celebration follows a beautiful service this morning where every participant pegged Roy incredibly well.’
‘To Barb, Laura, Louise, Nick, Chloe and Billy, we thank you for allowing us to be together. None of us were sure whether Roy would like this or not – he did rate pomp or ceremony, but when he did rate something, he rated it fiercely.’
Healy said watching Symonds master cricket and his work in the broadcast box made him ‘incredibly proud’.
Greg Rowell was the only man in a suit, and said he felt unsure about wearing it because ‘Roy didn’t care for suits’.
‘Roy would find it funny that I’m the only one here in a suit,’ he told the audience.
He told the crowd about a moment Symonds, Matthew Mott and another friend were on a boat near Morton Island when it broke down – forced to swim an hour back to shore in shark and crocodile-infested waters.
‘Roy and Matt swam ahead but the other guy was struggling, so they kept having to go back and help him.
‘Matt said he worried about the other guy, but never Roy’ due to his strength and perseverance.
Rowell said what started as funny situation could have ended in tragedy, but Symonds made sure it didn’t – they made it safely back to shore.
When Symonds had the option of playing for England, ‘he didn’t turn his back on Australia’.
The audience was silent during his delivery – even those sitting 100m away in the stands.
Daren Lehman, Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist remembers Symonds on a panel with Ian Healy.
Lehman said ‘Roy was tough to coach, but he was the best one because he put so much of himself into it. To coach him was a pleasure.’
Gilchrist was 19 when he first met Symonds, who was only 16.
‘He was already in the sights of everyone at the time.’
Ponting travelled from India to Townsville for the memorial, and spoke about the loss of three cricket greats within a few weeks.
Around 100 family, friends and former teammates gathered for a private memorial ahead of a public service later on Friday
EXCLUSIVE: Inside Andrew Symonds’ last hours alive doing what he loved – as his family are baffled by one crucial detail and it’s revealed the cricket legend had secretly separated from his wife
Andrew Symonds spent his final 24 hours doing what he loved, fishing and catching up with buddies at his favourite sports club, before he died in a car accident three hours later on a remote road.
The cricket legend was still in his fishing gear when he arrived at the Brothers Leagues Club in Kirwan, about 16km west of Townsville in Far North Queensland, on Saturday afternoon.
‘I’d say he spent the morning fishing before he got to the pub,’ Justin Wilkins, the club CEO, told Daily Mail Australia.
‘He stayed there until about 8pm, and then he left.’
Symonds died almost three hours later when his ute veered off Hervey Range Road, about 14km west of the pub, and rolled up an embankment on his drive home from a mystery location.
Family are desperately trying to piece together where the cricketer went after leaving the pub at 8pm, collecting his dogs and suffering a fatal crash on the remote road, with his sister saying they ‘just don’t know’.
The cause of the smash is yet to be determined but Queensland Police said alcohol was not a factor, and Mr Wilkins said he didn’t think Symonds had much to drink.
Andrew Symonds (pictured) went fishing and went to the pub before he died on Saturday night, Daily Mail Australia can reveal
Andrew Symonds went to Brothers Leagues Club (pictured) on Friday, and then again on Saturday
Tyre marks and torn-up grass are seen at the site where Symonds’ 4X4 veered off the road
‘He was a big guy and he could put it away, but I don’t think he drank a lot before he left on Saturday,’ Mr Wilkins said.
He also didn’t know where Symonds went between leaving the pub and hitting the embankment, but it is understood he went home to collect his two beloved blue heeler dogs before he left and drove west.
The cricketer’s home is a two-minute drive from the club in Kirwan. The site of the crash is about 15 minutes west of Kirwan, near Alice River Bridge.
Symonds’ beloved pets were in the back of the red 4X4, which had personalised ‘ROY’ number plates at the time of the accident.
It was the same vehicle the keen angler used to tow his boats on his many fishing trips.
The dogs survived the crash, with one refusing to leave Symonds’ body on the side of the road.