A good friend of mine died on Sunday morning.
His name was Steve McAppion.
We shared two things in particular. We both refereed in the Gladesville Hornsby ( see HERE for a wonderful obituary of Steve and his work at the GHFRA) competition and we both umpired at cricket he in grade and I in Shires.
I first met Steve a long time ago when I played cricket and he was involved in the administration of cricket in the then Gladesville competition.
I got to know him better a few years ago when he first helped out the Northern Districts cricket competition in our Senior semi-finals and Junior finals ( held on the same day).
When I told him we had only two turf matches he said he was more than happy to do a match on artificial turf more so if it were close to Meadowbank park where he lived.
He got in touch with me about a rep game he was umpiring for North Shore against one of our teams. He asked who our umpire was. I told who it was and said it was his first year of umpiring. Darren told me it was a privilege to umpire with Steve as he was a font of knowledge.
I was able to umpire with him when grade umpires helped out the Shires competition.
Last season I was doing this at Pennant Hills oval with him when he failed to turn up on the second day. I was very worried as he would have rung. ( That day it took me a hour to get from Beecroft to the oval normally a drive of ten minutes). I am thus the last person to umpire with him.
I later found out from his sister he had a stroke and it affected his speech. I saw him at Royal North Shore with my eldest son. When I said proudly he was going to referee a super league game we somehow had a conversation on refereeing. This was problematic as Steve could not speak. however my son came away feeling on top of the world and enthusiastic.
I saw him in rehabilitation and he gradually was regaining the ability to speak. The last communication with him was when he told me he was definitely umpiring in grade this season.
I was about to contact him again to see how that forecast was going when his sister contacted me again. On a Friday again he had another stroke however this time he was in a coma. He never recovered.
I shall attend his funeral today in full umpire uniform as a tribute to him ( as all umpires will do.)
He was only 56. I always thought he was older than me and now I find out he was younger.
Rest in peace my friend.