Jeff's Life Focused on People PHANTOM CALL

Article excerpt

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.''

Healing tales

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. …