WEDNESDAY'S funeral for former Ipswich international rugby winger Jeff McLean was one of the largest gatherings of sportspeople in the city.
Hundreds of people, from a number of sporting clubs, packed St Mary's Catholic Church to pay their final respects.
The rain stopped and the huge crowd turned up as testimony to Jeff's popularity.
While the occasion was extremely sad, Jeff's brothers Paul and Bob retraced some wonderful moments in Jeff's diverse life.
Bob said Jeff was always lots of fun, especially growing up at the Central Hotel in Nicholas Street where the McLean family continued its Ipswich dynasty from the 1860s.
The hotel was close to the Ipswich rail line and Jeff showed his speed at an early age sprinting around the block Co often to escape his father's punishment.
One time Jeff got into strife for selling papers of a Saturday morning to earn some money. His dad didn't know but quickly put an end to it when he found out.
Ironically, Jeff went on to work in a printing firm some years later.
Bob spoke highly of Jeff's steadfast focus to achieve goals. Jeff used to kick a football for hours at a time.
Paul delivered a riveting eulogy that reflected Jeff's eventful life.
Jeff played rugby league during his teenage years to preserve his amateur status in rugby and athletics, where he achieved Queensland honours in sprinting.
But he finally devoted all his sporting energies to rugby, reaching the top in 13 Tests for the Wallabies before a broken leg in 1974 prematurely ended his exciting career.
Paul, who debuted for the Wallabies in Jeff's final Test, told how his brother loved tackling the Springboks. He scored some scintillating tries before his untimely serious injury.
But after spending four months in hospital, Jeff got on with life, pursuing his hotel work and getting involved in major projects with the Ipswich Turf Club.
Paul said Jeff never complained about the scars of his injury. But ironically, it was the chemotherapy from his cancer treatment in recent months that finally healed his leg.
Jeff's 32 year marriage to Carmel was something he cherished and Paul told of how they met in 1977 while holidaying at the Gold Coast. Jeff was introduced as the only eligible bachelor in Ipswich.
The couple married and later took over the Coronation Hotel in December 1985, continuing their fondness for dealing with people.
Paul's eulogy had everyone's attention, delivered as professionally as the McLeans played rugby.
Support from above
JEFF McLean's brother Mike revealed how much it would have meant to have his sibling see Rangers playing in the grand final.
The Rangers club patron, who passed away last week, will be at today's grand final in spirit.
Mike will be coaching a Rangers side including Jeff's four nephews Alex McLean, Tom and Jim Dwyer and Dan Trevorrow.
But don't expect any ranting and raving from coach Mike before Rangers take the field in the Barber Cup grand final against Pine Rivers at Ballymore this afternoon.
"There's no point," Mike said. "They just laugh at me.
"I'm just making sure they get on the bus.''
VEGETABLES and fruit have amazing healing powers for sports injuries Co or at least that's what one regional footballer has been fooled into believing.
Phantom has learnt dastardly trio Richie Armstrong, Dan Burnell and Norbert Duga have been winding up Ipswich City Bulls player Anthony Kinnane after he got a new soccer ball tattoo on his shoulder.
The trio told him recently that if he overloaded on bananas, it would help to heal his sore area faster.
When Kinnane got sick of eating bananas, he was told to swallow potassium tablets, to give the same effect minus the taste.
The spirited Bulls player has been following orders and eating ridiculous amounts of fruit.
Later that week, Kinnane posted on Facebook how sore his ankle ligaments were. So, you guessed it, the treacherous trio struck again.
Armstrong suggested he cut an onion in half Co "an old wives tale'' Co and rub it on the affected areas twice daily. The theory was the acidic properties would work a treat in restoring movement before he applied ice before heading to bed.
It was also suggested Kinnane boil brocolli on the stove, dispose of the vegetable and let the greened water cool before drinking the steamed by-product. That, he was told, would also aid his injury.
Phantom isn't sure what injury state Kinnane is in this week after all the quick-fix suggestions. But one might suspect his footballing colleagues are owed a massive payback.
THE high-flying Ipswich Knights footballers know how to enjoy themselves just about any time.
But when they are second on the Division 1 table, they deserve a chance to forget briefly about football and enjoy a game of golf.
Last Sunday's team bonding session at Karana Downs achieved that.
Coaches Billy Livingstone and Ian Carson joined current and past players for an afternoon of golf before watching the Brisbane Roar play in the A-League and Division 1 rivals Western Spirit and University battle.
Phantom has learnt defender Alex "AJ" Jimmink won the award for the most vocal golfer.
Former player and coach Clint Scott collected the honour for best personal insult of the day. He told AJ to "pick up his hair straightener and walk away''.
BUSY Ipswich player and umpire Steve Rogers would have slept well last Saturday night.
Rogers, as the city's leading hockey umpire, is preparing to officiate at the Australian Hockey League finals in Brisbane next weekend.
He got a great fitness workout at the Ipswich Hockey Complex last weekend.
Rogers played a full game of Reserve grade for Norths before umpiring the next A-grade clash between Easts and Hancocks.
After a quick change and drink, Rogers suited up to play off the bench for Norths in A-grade.
AS a premiership-winning player, Jamie Burns was a handy man to have on your side.
Now the Norths hockey supporter is hoping to help his A-grade team as a rookie coach.
"Being there as a player, I know what's involved,'' he said, having only taken over coaching in the second round.
"It's pretty much bring your problems up, get them out in the open and we'll sort them out.''
Married to game
GOODNA Gladiators rugby union coach Les Shine is non-committal about his prospect of returning to the role next season, mostly out of a sense of guilt.
"My wife's been a rugby widow for 20-odd years now," he said.
"It might be time to spend a winter with the family."
LAST Sunday Brothers secretary Craig Stanford asked Norths president Paul Cairns if he wanted a bet on the Ipswich Rugby League Reserve grade game between the clubs.
Knowing the perilous player shortage his club is currently experiencing, Cairns said he'd bet but only if he was given an 80 point start.
"You're kidding," was the gist of Stanford's reply. However history proves Cairns knows his hidings from his floggings.
Brothers won 80-0.
Perhaps if Cairns had been playing he would have only asked for 70-odd points start.
In a recent cameo for the team Cairns grabbed two tries, but has not been sighted on the field since.
Meanwhile, former Norths player Les Svensson, celebrating the 30 year anniversary of the club's 1980 teams, predicted a scoreline of 78-0 before the kick-off.
The anticipation he might be right as the scoreboard ticked over provided more entertainment in the can bar than what was on offer on the field.
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