A tribute to Jeffrey Sayle

2 months ago

Bob Dwyer pays tribute to his friend Jeffrey Sayle!

Jeffrey Leonard Sayle – ‘Sayley’ to what seems like half the world – passed away early yesterday in hospital, after a long, and typically courageous fight against all the odds.

Just as it looked as if he might defy the odds yet again, he passed peacefully in his sleep. Sad though we are, we can perhaps be grateful for this gentle end.

Over this last year, his sister, Janette, has been his constant and tireless support and to see her loving devotion to her brother has given all of us an added strength to try to help Jeffrey though the many rough patches.

To say that he was a much-loved person at the Randwick Rugby Club and the Coogee Surf Club would be, almost criminally, understating the influence that he had on them. He was a truly larger-than-life character at both these iconic institutions.

Beginning as a ball-boy at Coogee Oval, at around 10 years of age, Jeff spent his remaining 67 years there in one role or another. From junior rugby, senior rugby, Waratahs, Wallabies, referee, coach, administrator, and finally patron of our great club. Until the back end of this season, he was at every game, every week home and away, and at every practice session, every Tuesday and Thursday evening. And I mean ‘every’!

Coogee Surf Club have written their own tribute to remember Sayley, but it is most important to note that he rowed in an Australian Surfboat championship winning crew. In our game he reached the pinnacle as a Wallaby rugby team member. All of us have long admired that they were both achieved on the back of his indomitable spirit and refusal to be daunted by any thought of failure. For Jeffrey to give less than 100% was a sin. He never, never, gave in and it was the lesson he leaves us all.

Those who are familiar in any way with surfboat racing, and the training regimes of the crews, will know that no sporting group trains harder than them. This was right down Sayley’s alley! He could handle that and handle it, he did.

Exposure to such commitment, I’m sure, helped him in his rugby career. He trained like his life depended on it – indeed, he had a similar attitude to any of his many and varied pursuits. I will remember, forever, seeing his homespun cardio-routines, featuring him running laps of Coogee Oval pushing the heavy cricket wicket roller! This, to my knowledge, is a one-off and our hallowed ground had never looked better after it!

Equally, was his sense of humour, his love of fun – his genuine love of life. All who knew him loved to be with him, to be around him, and to laugh with him. Indeed, often, at him!He had a very quick wit, a great memory and an agile mind. Without a massive formal education, he was, nevertheless, blessed with a keen intelligence. He saw things with absolute clarity and could educate us all in a simple, unsophisticated way. He was a man who could walk with kings but never lost the common touch.

We may never see his like again as the mould was surely broken and it’s the saddest of sad days for Randwick Rugby. Rest in Peace in Jeffrey – you deserve to.

Up the Wicks!

Your mate Bob Dwyer.

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