League legends’ emotional tribute to fallen mate
IN AN emotional tribute, two former Queensland State of Origin players have given their best mate a touching farewell.
Current North Queensland Cowboys NRL coach Paul Green as well as former Cronulla Sharks and Penrith Panthers forward Craig Greenhill held back tears as they shared stories of a special relationship with friend Adam Maher as they read the eulogy at his funeral earlier today in Brisbane.
Maher, who played for Wynnum Manly and Easts Tigers before joining the Cronulla Sharks and later became a star for Hull KR in England, died last week after a two-year battle with Motor Neurone Disease.
Family and friends, as well as others whose lives Maher had touched during his 47 years, packed into the Wynnum Baptist Church as they gave the man known as 'Head' or 'The Boy' to his parents a final farewell.
Green and Greenhill shared a special relationship, which stretched more than 30 years, with Maher and were also by his side during his battle with MND.
Green played with Maher at the Wynnum Manly Juniors as well as colts and also at Easts and Cronulla and said he was a special man who would be sorely missed.
"I first ran into Adam when we were playing in the Wynnum District Schools under-8s grand final and I was playing for Manly West State School and he was playing for St John Vianney's," he said.
"To then have a relationship with a group of mates like we do for such a long time is extremely rare.
"You could tell straight away he was just a special person, you always had fun when you were around Adam.
"One of Adam's best qualities was his toughness, not like hard tough, but he would just take things on and wouldn't be after any sympathy or to make things about him, he just keeps going.
"That's one of the things I think I'll take from him and that I have learned from him, there's just not much time in life and you never know how much time you're going to have left and you need to make the most of every minute.
"There's very few people in the world where everyone he knows wouldn't have a bad word to say about them - Adam was one of those people."
Green also has one story that stands out to him about his relationship with his fallen friend.
"When I won the Rothman's Medal at Easts in 1993, I went straight to Adam's house, broke in and jumped on him and woke him up. He was one of the first people I wanted to tell, I couldn't wait to share the news with my best mate."
Maher received support from around the rugby league community in Australia and in England, including an event organised by former club Hull KR, where his former teammates and fans of the team even sung the team song in front of his family.
There was not a dry eye in the building.
Then his Australian friends got behind him with a fundraising night in Wynnum last year, where more than $125,000 was raised to help Maher in his battle with MND.
"He just had a way of making a special impact on everyone he knew," Greenhill said.
"He was an incredibly loyal mate and would always put a smile on your face.
"As you go through life and a sporting career, there's people you meet and become friends with but later on if they were in the same city, they wouldn't contact you, we were extremely lucky to have a mate like Adam and a group who were able to share our lives with.
"Adam was a great football player, he was extremely tough … but his number one achievement is being a dad.
"When you're with him and he sees his girls, his eyes just light up and that's what life is all about and it is such a special thing."
Greenhill also remembers a special story about Maher during their time in England.
"He decided to introduce our English teammates to Bundaberg Rum one time and that was a bad decision," he laughed.
"The next day some of our teammates rocked up with a fat lip, other injuries to their heads, their was damage to the fencing at his place, outdoor furniture missing from other people's places, it was a disaster.
"That was the last time those guys touched the Australian rum."
Green and Greenhill said Maher was "one of a kind" and would leave a gaping whole in their lives.
Maher's children and wife Trudy also gave a special and emotional tribute to the man they loved so dearly.
Former teammates of Maher's from Cronulla also attended the funeral and wake at the Wynnum Manly Juniors, even singing the team song in what was a fitting way to celebrate the life of a man, who seemed to positively impact so many others.