The Orange CYMS’ community will farewell one of its most passionate supporters on Friday when Tom ‘Curly’ Fitzgerald is laid to rest.
A fixture at CYMS’ home games at Wade Park for decades, Fitzgerald passed away last Thursday night. He was 81.
A club life member, Fitzgerald will be remembered at a funeral service at Penhall Funerals from 11am on Friday morning. He’ll be buried in his CYMS life member blazer.
Admitting his entire club was at a loss, CYMS president Dave Penny recalled some of his fondest memories of a man that lived and breathed rugby league.
“I remember he loved watching my son Matt play, and we’d get him a chair and a coffee and he’d sit there all afternoon watching games if he could,” Penny said.
“He’d do the same at seniors as well. He’d be at Wade Park for all of CYMS’ games.
“We knew you couldn’t smoke on council grounds, but we turned a blind eye when Curly had a smoke and a coffee.
“Des Knight was a real favourite of Curly’s.”
The club notified its members of Fitzgerald’s passing on its Facebook page last Friday.
The post generated an outpouring of grief for Curly.
“A true legend, not going to be the same at footy this year without Curly saying hello 'sweetheart' and sitting on the sideline ... sleep peacefully my dear mate you will always be in our thoughts,” Maree Brown posted.
Col Barnes remembered a man always prepared to lend a hand for the good of the club.
“Thank you Curly for always helping out … for giving your advice, for listening, for being a passionate rugby league supporter, for being a character, for those dud horses you tipped me, for the players you brought to your favourite club, for assisting me on many occasions with team training, for your stories … it's GTBG 'Curl',” Barnes posted.
While current CYMS lock Tim Mortimer added: “Love ya Curly and thank you, Rest In Peace!”
Mortimer played in the same under 8s side as current Cronulla Sharks five-eighth James Maloney, coached by James’ father Brian, a former Orange CYMS captain-coach.
Curly Fitzgerald was the manager of that team and has followed the career paths of both players over the years.
In 2008, Fitzgerald helped the Central Western Daily select the Orange All Stars, a collection of the best players to lace up the boots in the last 50 years.
The club and Fitzgerald’s family is encouraging everyone in attendance at Friday’s service to wear a touch of green.
“There’s one at every club, and everyone at CYMS loved having Curly around,” Penny added.
“He was just a passionate rugby league supporter.”
CYMS supporters and Fitzgerald’s family will gather at Kelly’s Hotel after the funeral service.