Pictured: Andrew ‘Roy’ Symonds in Brisbane in 2003

Australian cricket royalty paid tribute to Andrew ‘Roy’ Symonds at a charity event with jokes, anecdotes and bottles of XXXX Gold – five days after the legendary all-rounder died in a car crash.

Symonds’ sudden death near Townsville, northern Queensland, on Saturday night sent shockwaves through the sports community – and came just weeks after spinner Shane Warne and wicket-keeper Rod Marsh suffered fatal heart attacks.

‘Bad things always do happen in threes,’ former Australian captain Mark Taylor said, following the deaths.

Queensland cricket group, the Bulls Masters, had planned to host a ticketed luncheon at the Benson Hotel in Cairns on Thursday afternoon to raise money for the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation and Cairn District Cricket Association.

The event, hosted by Seven News sports presenter Ben Davis, would feature a video with highlights from Marsh and Warne’s esteemed careers.

Symonds was supposed to speak at the function alongside cricket greats Merv Hughes, Ian Healy, Matthew Mott, and Jimmy Maher – but no one expected to have to add him to the tribute at the eleventh hour.

Surrounded by friends, former colleagues and fans, the 46-year-old’s friends donned shirts embroidered with ‘AS 424′ – Symonds’ initials and the number of List A matches he played.

Maher, Symonds’ best friend, told the 100-strong group that he and the organisers wondered if they should postpone the event.

‘We decided [Symonds] would be a bit sh*tty if we called today off,’ he said.

Andrew Symonds (pictured) died on Saturday when his car veered off the road and hit an embankment

Andrew Symonds (pictured) died on Saturday when his car veered off the road and hit an embankment 

Fans and crocket greats, including Merv Hughes, Jimmy Maher, Ian Healy and Matthew Mott , raised XXXX Gold for Andrew Symonds on Thursday afternoon (pictured)

Fans and crocket greats, including Merv Hughes, Jimmy Maher, Ian Healy and Matthew Mott , raised XXXX Gold for Andrew Symonds on Thursday afternoon (pictured) 

Jimmy Maher (pictured) has been friends with Andrew Symonds since they were children

Jimmy Maher (pictured) has been friends with Andrew Symonds since they were children

Australian cricket great Merv Hughes and Ian Healy (front) are seen raising a stubby to departed team-mate Andrew Symonds

Australian cricket great Merv Hughes and Ian Healy (front) are seen raising a stubby to departed team-mate Andrew Symonds

Highlights from Symond's career were played on the big screen, including the moment he collected a pitch invader during a one-day game for Queensland

Highlights from Symond’s career were played on the big screen, including the moment he collected a pitch invader during a one-day game for Queensland

Ex-ironman champion Guy Leech and former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy at the memorial for Andrew Symonds at a Cairns hotel on Thursday afternoon

Ex-ironman champion Guy Leech and former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy at the memorial for Andrew Symonds at a Cairns hotel on Thursday afternoon 

‘If you were going to have six beers today, have seven for Roy.’

The crowd rose to their feet, raised bottles of XXXX Gold and collectively said, ‘to Roy,’ before a video featuring all three sportsmen’s finest cricketing moments played across two big screens – accompanied by John Williamson’s ‘True Blue’. 

Grown men tried hard to blink back the tears.

Maher, who broke down while talking about Symonds’ death on television earlier this week, couldn’t hold it in.

However, what began as a sombre event took a brighter turn when Symonds’ mates started telling their favourite stories.

Matthew Mott played cricket with Symonds when they were kids in Queensland – ‘he was a beautiful human and a talented cricketer who liked being the butt of jokes at the best of times,’ he told the room.

Symonds' is pictured with Shane Warne in December 2020 - before he died aged 52 in March

Symonds’ is pictured with Shane Warne in December 2020 – before he died aged 52 in March

Merv Hughes (pictured) also paid tribute to Andrew Symonds at the function on Thursday

Merv Hughes (pictured) also paid tribute to Andrew Symonds at the function on Thursday

Ian Healy (left) and ex-ironman champion Guy Leech (right) are pictured at a charity event for the Queensland Bulls Masters

Ian Healy (left) and ex-ironman champion Guy Leech (right) are pictured at a charity event for the Queensland Bulls Masters

Symonds is pictured with Laura - who Daily Mail Australia revealed he recently split from - and his two kids, Chloe and Billy

Symonds is pictured with Laura – who Daily Mail Australia revealed he recently split from – and his two kids, Chloe and Billy

‘He never changed from the day he strode out onto the field as a 14-year-old. He never changed for anyone – he was always the same bloke.’

Mott told Daily Mail Australia earlier that afternoon that Symonds’ mother Barbara bought him iron-on name tags to attach to his clothes when he was young – ‘Roy was pretty bad at losing things,’ he added.

‘And this one time he was ironing his name onto his cricket jersey, and I said ‘mate, you probably don’t need to put your name on that one – your name is in huge letters on the back’.’

‘Roy realised and he laughed, but that was just him.’

Merv Hughes, who played for Australia between 1985 and 1994, told the group that Symonds was ‘an incredible fighter’ who played cricket regardless of whether he was in pain from over-exerting himself on the field or in training. 

The charity event was planned before Symonds passed away, but organisers added him to the tributes - along with Shane Warne and Rod Marsh

The charity event was planned before Symonds passed away, but organisers added him to the tributes – along with Shane Warne and Rod Marsh 

Andrew Symonds (pictured right) famously knocked over a streaker who ran onto the field during a 2008 match against India in Brisbane

Andrew Symonds (pictured right) famously knocked over a streaker who ran onto the field during a 2008 match against India in Brisbane

Ian Healy, who played between 1988 and 1999, said he was always impressed with Symonds because it took him a while to understand how to play cricket properly – and lamented the fact that the all-rounder was effectively forced to retire early.

‘He was brilliant, and he fought hard for Queensland and he practiced his skills, but then there was the court case against India and racism allegations and he was let down by Cricket Australia.’

Healy was referring to an incident known as ‘Monkeygate’ – when Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh allegedly racially abused Symonds, whose heritage was Afro-Caribbean, by calling him a ‘big monkey’ in the Sydney Test of the 2007-08 series.

The matter went to court, India threatened to boycott the rest of the tour and Cricket Australia convinced Symonds to downgrade the charge from racism to ‘abusive language’ – the punishment was a fine, and Symonds was admonished for instigating the affair.

Symonds felt betrayed and disillusioned, and sought solace in alcohol and fishing.

Andrew Symonds (pictured) played between 1999 and 2007. He retired and moved to Townsville

Andrew Symonds (pictured) played between 1999 and 2007. He retired and moved to Townsville

Jimmy Maher (left) and Andrew Symonds (right) shared many highs and lows together, including Queensland's loss in the 2005 Pura Cup final

Jimmy Maher (left) and Andrew Symonds (right) shared many highs and lows together, including Queensland’s loss in the 2005 Pura Cup final

The end of his career came in 2007 when he was sent home from a Darwin Test match after he went fishing instead of going to training.

Symonds played 26 tests between 1999 and 2007, which Healy said on Thursday was ’50 short’ of what he could have achieved.

‘He was just getting the hang of it at 26,’ he added.

Symonds traded in his life in the spotlight for a quiet existence in Townsville – where he could spend his time fishing, hanging out with mates, and playing cricket in local teams for fun.

On Thursday afternoon, Bulls Masters spokesman Matt Hogan told Daily Mail Australia the energy in the room had a ferocity he hadn’t seen before – ‘I think they’ve all come together, stronger than ever, to be here for Roy,’ he said.

‘There’s an energy today you don’t usually get.’

Andrew Symonds is survived by his two children - Chloe and Billy (pictured together)

Andrew Symonds is survived by his two children – Chloe and Billy (pictured together)

Tyre marks and torn-up grass are seen at the site where Symonds' 4X4 veered off the road

Tyre marks and torn-up grass are seen at the site where Symonds’ 4X4 veered off the road 

Seventeen signed cricket jerseys signed by Hughes and Healy were each sold for $650 – with all proceeds going to the hospital and cricket association.

‘That’s 100 per cent more than usual,’ Mr Hogan said. ‘They usually go for about $300 each.’

Signed cricket bats, corporate seats to games, and backyard barbecue parties were auctioned off – raising more than $35,000 for charity.

Symonds’ life was cut short at about 10.30pm on Saturday when his ute veered off Hervey Range Road and rolled up an embankment.

The cause of the single-car accident is under investigation.

He is survived by his two children – Chloe and Billy.

It is understood the funeral will be held next Friday, at Riverway Stadium in Townsville. 



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