Hundreds gather to farewell league legend Eddie Lumsden

Final farewell: The end of the funeral service for Eddie Lumsden at East Maitland on Friday afternoon. Picture: Simone De Peak
Final farewell: The end of the funeral service for Eddie Lumsden at East Maitland on Friday afternoon. Picture: Simone De Peak

Rugby league legend Eddie Lumsden has been remembered as a family man and champion sportsman with "a depth of character second-to-none".

Hundreds of people packed into The Therry Centre at East Maitland on Friday afternoon to farewell Lumsden, who won nine grand finals on the wing with the iconic St George Dragons side that claimed 11 consecutive premierships in the 1950s and 60s.

It was a career in football that began with the Kurri Bulldogs and led to positions as selector for NSW and Australia.

The 84-year-old from Kurri Kurri died in hospital on Sunday morning.

"He's an integral part of our history," former St George prop Craig Young said on behalf of the club on Friday.

"He was a special player, but more importantly he was a special man."

Fellow league stalwarts Noel Kelly, Les Johns and Johnny King - who played on the opposite wing to Lumsden in the near-unbeatable Dragons side - were among the family and friends who gathered to say their goodbyes on Friday.

Some in the congregation donned Dragons jerseys and caps as a mark of respect.

Lumsden played for the Kurri Bulldogs before signing with Manly in 1955.

But he only made four appearances for the Sea Eagles because the league's residential rules at the time made him ineligible to play for the club.

The winger found himself at St George in 1957, where he played 158 games and scored 136 tries through the club's glory years before he hung up his boots in 1966.

Lumsden represented NSW on 19 occasions - scoring 14 tries - and played for Australia in 15 Test matches.

He spent 23 years as a Country and NSW selector and 14 years in the job for the national team.

Eddie Lumsden.

Eddie Lumsden.

Twice the league's top try scorer, Lumsden crossed the line for a hat-trick in two of his nine grand final wins.

Lumsden is a life member of St George and NSW Rugby League and was inducted into the NRL Hall of Fame in 2008.

He was also named in Kurri and Newcastle RL's teams of the century.

Among the many tributes that flowed since his death, the St George club said that Lumsden was "a key figure" in the Dragons' premiership dynasty.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said earlier this week the Hunter man would be "remembered as one of the greatest wingers of his era".

Tribute: St George Dragons club legend Craig Young pays tribute to Eddie Lumsden. Picture: Simone De Peak

Tribute: St George Dragons club legend Craig Young pays tribute to Eddie Lumsden. Picture: Simone De Peak

Lumsden ran pubs in his retirement from football and had strong ties to the community - particularly through East Maitland Men's Shed and Paterson Golf Club, both of which had a large contingent at Friday's service.

But most of all, he was remembered as a strong family man, with Sylvia - his wife of 61 years - children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

His granddaughters Jordan and Alivia spoke about their grandfather at the service.

They told of a grandfather who took them to the beach, spoiled them at "the two dollar shop" and tried to help out wherever and whenever he could.

"He was always up for a chat, unless you caught him in the middle of a football game, in which case it would be short or you'd get a running commentary of what was happening," Jordan said.

The congregation heard a story about Lumsden losing a bet with Maitland Pickers president Dave Moreland - when his beloved Bulldogs lost to the Pickers, Lumsden had to serve beer to the Maitland players at his pub.

"True to his word, Eddie did serve beer behind the bar for Maitland but Dave never said anything about charging them for the beer," the service heard.

"He was and always will be a loyal Kurri football club man."

Lumsden was described as a man of integrity, with "a depth of character second-to-none".

The congregation gave him a final standing ovation as his coffin was carried from the East Maitland hall at the end of Friday's service.

"A few years ago St George penned a book about our long, outstanding history - it was titled 'Never before, never again'," Craig Young said.

"I was thinking, that sums up Eddie, doesn't it?

"There's never going to be another Eddie Lumsden, on or off the field."

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This story Hundreds gather to farewell league legend Eddie Lumsden first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.