Family, friends, cricket teammates and fans gathered at Townsville’s Riverway Stadium for the public memorial service, following a private funeral on Friday morning.
Poet Rupert McCall recalled receiving calls from Symonds late at night, hoping to hear some of his favorite poems while sitting by the fire with his friends.
McCall delivered every time, and did so again with his latest tribute to Symonds’ life, speaking of the “white-lipped killer” and “six-monster snapper” who silenced critics when he revived his testing career with a famous battle against South Africa on Boxing Day.
“Bowlers who were once dominant cowered in fear, he came and he saw and he saved his testing career,” McCall recited. “Now let’s recognize a boy’s dream and the day he fulfilled it. You ripper, Roy.’
Previously, Cricket Australia director Greg Rowell kicked off proceedings after an opening video tribute, praising Symonds’ dedication to the team, others and everyone before himself.
“He was a man to others, and it showed in the mastery and breadth of skills that brought him little in the way of pursuing his personal dreams,” Rowell said. “He owned his mistakes, he set others before him to see what needed to be done, and to do it. To judge what needed to be said, and to say it.”
Ponting, Lehmann and Gilchrist all praised Symonds’ efforts around both his state and national teammates, and his calm demeanor that calmed them even in the most tense of environments.
It was that effort that Ponting said inspired him to return to Australia while suffering from gastroenteritis after his duties in the IPL.
“I had to lie down” [before the service]…and then I heard these words ring in my head from Roy up there,” said Ponting. “Get up, get up, go down, you got a sore stomach, do you,” he added to a chorus of laughter .
Lehmann called him the best player he ever coached, while Gilchrist said what struck him most was how often old friends had talked about Symonds’ off-field life, with barely a mention of his cricketing achievements.
“We talked so much about him as a person that we forgot to talk about the level of cricketer he was,” Gilchrist said.
Symonds’ larrikin character and true Australian character resonated throughout his career with cricket fans across the country.
It was that personality that made him admired for his bullish disposition with the bat and arrow-like precision on the state and country field.
To the sounds of Hey True Bluethe memorial service ended but the memory of Andrew ‘Roy’ Symonds will live on in the hearts of Australian cricket fans forever.