They came for Billy Quirk: (When you lose a mate)

On Thursday the 19th of September they came to Bright for William “Billy” Quirk.
A week or so earlier Bright had lost one of its most ever cherished sons.

Billy died suddenly at his mother’s home in Thompson Street. The news stunned the Bright community and beyond. Billy was a much loved person, a gentleman, and an outstanding sportsman, who had a heart of gold.

In a twist of fate I happened to be home from overseas when Billy died. I rang my best mate, his brother Wes to confirm what I had heard from my friend Robbo. “Tell me it is not true”, I said. In a stilted voice, a crying Wes replied, “Its true mate, his body just gave up”. My heart sank. Billy had been fighting heart problems for a while.

Billy was an inspiration to many of us in Bright. He was loved by young and old. My younger brother David idolized him growing up, as did I. He pulled so many into his circle with his magnetism. He was caring, happy, silly, cheeky but always honest and genuine and he always had time for you.

He was a masterful footballer who could play in any position. He was hard at it, but classy, he could do mercurial things to lift his team. Everyone that played on a team with Billy walked taller because of his presence. I am honored to have played footy with him. I rate Billy one of the best footballers I have seen.

I remember watching him as an adolescent warming up on the boundary before training. He would swing his leg over the fence and give a quick hammy stretch, then grab a football and proceed to kick it fifty metres through the Wandiloging end goals, with that thumping left foot. He played for Bright for many years and was idolized by many. He walked into the team of the century. He also played Ovens and Murray for Myrtleford one year, walking into the league team on the half back flank. Billy was courageous on the football field and his talent flowed like a fountain. I firmly believe Billy could have made VFL.

Billy was a magical bowler for Bright Wanderers Cricket Club. His father Doug “Grinder” Quirk, (another wonderful footballer) would park his car near the scoreboard and watch his son bowl with ferocity from that end. Billy had a poetic run up, and would whip a beautiful and fast out swinger that used to terrorize batsmen. At 16 he had the world at his feet and was making waves State wide. Many old timers rate him a better bowler than Merv Hughes who played for Myrtleford before he made his run for Australia. I firmly believe Billy had the ability to bowl for the state and his country.

Billy was one of those guys that could light up a room. His very presence at a party would lift it from ordinary to fun. Women swarmed to Billy, they loved his honesty, his banter and clever wit. He was one of the fittest specimens I had seen.

Some of us have only 1 or 2 best friends. Billy had so many best friends no one really knew how many. Greg “Squizzy” Taylor (Bright’s most successful playing coach) , Froggy Thompson, Gary Lewis, Steve Hedley, Peter Jones, Houghie, Johnnie Considine, Paul Lewis are just some that consider him best mates. We realized early on we had to share Billy around. Billy loved being around his mates, but there were two things Billy loved more than anything: his beautiful daughters Chloe and Georgia, and he gave them all he could give and more.

Billy comes from a wonderful family. I have mentioned his Dad who was such a character in the town. He sadly passed away a few years ago. His uncle Tony was an amazing footballer and coached me as a junior. I waved to him in Cobden Street when I was home. I have mentioned my mate Wes. Billy also had 2 sisters, Fiona and Lucy (sadly died young) and 3 other brothers Lance, Cisco and Tony. Billy’s mum is Frieda. They simply don’t make like people like her any more. I hugged Frieda when I left Bright. She was doing it hard but she was soldiering on, just like she has done all her life. To lose a child must be horrific but I think Doug and Frieda can be truly proud of how Billy lived his life because he touched so many.

I was very sad on this Thursday overseas, but I got some texts during the day. Its times like this you miss being home. “Incredible Funeral”, “One of the best ever Haje”. They came for Billy that day and they came in droves. The people of Bright would have sent Billy out with a bang. The wake was massive at the Bright Football Club. Yvonne Kelly, an older stalwart of the town did the catering with love. Many beers were shared and stories told, and hearts tugged in memory of the magic of Billy. Gee I will miss him when I go home as will my wife Lynda and our boys.

I am told that you could see a young Billy Quirk bounding around the wing in the midst of all the tears that night, and that would have been an amazing thing to see.

RIP William “Billy” Quirk aged 54

About Haje Halabi

Born in Bright Victoria and went overseas for 2 years and stayed 18, back home now, keen observer of life and obsessed with sport. Tiger tragic, father of 2 boys who are growing too fast into young men.

Comments

  1. Shayne Cherry says:

    Great article Haj! Well said!

  2. rhonda murphy ( radford) says:

    will always remember with a smile a good friend to my brother in law greg taylor and sister linda (dec) I’m sure billy and linda are having a great chat you will be missed billy,xxxx

  3. Chloe Quirk says:

    This is such a beautiful piece of writing. Well done! It’s great hearing and reading everyone else’s stories and memories of dad. Our thoughts are with everyone as we are sure yours are with us too, much love x

  4. Great Article Haje made me cry..

  5. Cameron reid says:

    Good on you Haje.

  6. John Van Doodewaard says:

    As a young un RIP Mr Billy Clerk as I called him :)

  7. Rocket Nguyen says:

    Wonderful tribute. Well written.

  8. Well said Haje

  9. Andrew Starkie says:

    Beautiful Haje. Good country folk.

  10. Lorraine and Tim Hughes says:

    We sadly could not make it but I sat in silence and remembered the good days. I will visit him when we move back. Will always be remembered in our hearts and at the footy club every time we visit.
    Very well written a true friend you are you said it all that was needed to be said.
    Our thoughts go out to the family and children.
    RIp with in our hearts always. One more bear hug. xxx

  11. Thanks Haje.

  12. Rocket Nguyen says:

    I thought I knew him!

    I now recall that Bill coached Mangoplah-Cookardinia United in the Farrer League then went and coached the Wagga Uni Bushpigs – got us into a grand final, which we lost.

    A very popular and respected coach.

  13. Haje Halabi says:

    YUP – thats right Rocket- coached MCU with his mate Steve Hedley- a wonderful Wodonga player- he also ran a pub in Wagga

  14. marcia rudebeck says:

    Awesome story well done. Billy will be sadly missed tremendous lose to bright

  15. Great article Haje, sad news and thoughts go to the Quirk family. Being a mate of Billy’s little brother Cisco, I always thought he was a giant of a man and a gun of a footballer but he still had time for us young whipper snappers. Great to see the Bright community come together in a time like this.

  16. I knew Bill from when he was about 18 from my trips to Bright playing music in the Pinewood days where you could rely on Bill to look after things especially in the disco afterwards.. we would then al retire to ‘Bill’s Place? which was the rotunda in the park for a party. I also kept in touch with Bill after those days whenever i was in town and great memories of Bright and wagga wagga are always with me.. my love to all the family and friends and thank you for a great article.. pete ward ..

  17. Darren Quirk says:

    Great tribute Haj,

    Billy Quirk
    Father, Son, brother , cousin, friend, LEGEND

    RIP
    Billy

  18. A great tribute to a great man

  19. Jo Moore (nee Radford) says:

    A fantastic and so true tribute to Billy – well done Haj. I have some fantastic memories of Billy and yes some of them from “Bill’s place” as mentioned by Peter Ward. I vividly remember him and Greg (Squizzy) coming to pick up Linda for a night out and Billy being too scared to come inside as he was afraid of our dad (Manny), this big towering guy standing in our doorway so polite but still cheeky, he melted my mum (Nell) instantly but that’s just how Billy was. He made everyone around him smile and instantly love him – the nicest and most genuine guy ever. I’m sure him and Linda are having a great time up there and I know he will be forever loved and missed by all. xx

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