Phillip Hughes' amazing 25 years on this planet was celebrated in his home town of Macksville.
Phillip Hughes' amazing 25 years on this planet was celebrated in his home town of Macksville. Getty Images

Sad farewell to little star Phillip Hughes

FROM a kid that adored Tonka trucks as a baby, to a man with a heart of gold who went on to score three Test hundreds.

Phillip Hughes' brief life - but one full of so many accomplishments - has been celebrated during a highly emotional funeral in his home town of Macksville in country New South Wales.

Hughes was a boy who was never short of a grin, whether it was while beating his older brother Jason in their backyard cricket games, or at the lack of girls during his final school year at Homebush Boys.

But the nation mourned that cherished lost smile yesterday, as Macksville Recreational Centre was packed with family, friends, his cricket teammates, and the Macksville and wider communities.

There were too many people to fit into Macksville's St Patrick's Church - where he was baptised as a baby - a large one as described by his cousin, Nino Ramunno - and where his parents Greg and Virginia were married.

Ramunno and older brother Jason told the large crowd of how talented Phillip was as a youngster, scoring 159 for Northern New South Wales at just 12, a feat that caught the eye of good judges in the "big smoke".

Jason recalled "incredible" cricket battles in the backyard where Phillip had to win every game, and how his little brother would always ask how his hair looked, always with that cheeky smile.

Little sister Megan told a lovely story of how her big brother would always look out for her, no matter what, and how that smile would always adorn Phillip's face no matter how tough life would treat him.

Family friend Corey Ireland - not a cricket fan - recalled Phillip's love for cattle and their plans to run a cattle breeding business after the late 25-year-old's cricket career had finished - and how they were well on track to do that.

Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke - who has referred to Phillip as his "little brother" - loved him just as much as Jason did.

Clarke's speech was an incredible reflection on how he believed Phillip's spirit would never leave the famous SCG - the place he delighted so many fans with so many amazing innings.

Clarke said in the same way that indigenous people celebrated how the land was connected to where people walked - was the way it would be every time he set foot on the SCG from now on.

And Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland referenced cricket writer Ed Smith, who has argued the game possessed a rich and poetic heart.

"The heart is heavy with sorrow. Pierced by pain, but it will never stop beating," Sutherland said.

Hughes' coffin left the sport and recreation centre which brought him so many great memories - to the sounds of Elton John's Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me.

And while his heart tragically stopped beating, Hughes will always remain 63 not out, and his spirit will never leave the SCG, or the many people who loved him.

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