Tweed league legend remembered in touching service
RUGBY league legend and New South Wales' first ever indigenous captain Ron Saddler has been farewelled at a touching service at Murwillumbah's All Saints Anglican Church.
Mr Saddler passed away peacefully at Kingscliff's Blue Care Nursing Home on May 12, with wife and soulmate Carol by his side following a long battle with dementia.
He was remembered in front of a full house of friends and family at Tuesday's service for his love of sport and as a lovable larrikin.
"He wasn't just my Dad, but also my hero," son Brent Saddler told mourners.
"I love you (Dad), there's hundreds of stories that will be shared for years to come."
Mr Saddler was proud of his indigenous heritage and his coffin, draped with Aboriginal artwork, was flanked by his framed Australian and Sydney City legends jerseys, in a tribute to his famed rugby league career.
Originally from NSW's Riverina region, Mr Saddler was recruited in 1961 by Murwillumbah Brothers in the Tweed District competition, before making his way to the Sydney Roosters (then Easts), where he played 118 games while captaining NSW in 1967 and touring Europe with the Australian side in 1967-68.
Mr Saddler returned to Murwillumbah in 1973 to play with Murwillumbah (High School) Old Boys, where he was feared for not only his ability, but his ferocious tackling style and hard hits.
Reverend Lenore Moules, who presided over the service, offered tributes from Mr Saddler's family and invited those in attendance to sit with their thoughts and say goodbye in their own way, as the song You Raise Me Up filled the church.
"He lived his life to the fullest and I'm sure everyone here is proud of Ronnie," Rev Moules said.
A Prayer of farewell and a blessing was carried out, before a guard of honour formed to carry Mr Saddler's coffin from the church.
As Mr Saddler's coffin was loaded into a hearse for a trip to his final resting place, the Sydney Roosters original club song Easts to Win (Here Come the Roosters) rang out one more time for one of its greatest and most respected players.
Mr Saddler is survived by his wife Carol, daughter Amanda and son Brent.