Rex Hardaker. RIP ?The Brother?.
Rex Hardaker. RIP ?The Brother?.

It?s a matter of knowing when ?


THERE was great excitement in Heaven as the word from Earth filtered through at 4.21pm last Sunday.

God summoned his Chief Angel.

"I think we'd better find him to make sure he's heard the news," He announced from His throne.

"But how will I find him, Boss?" the angel asked.

"Not very difficult," was the chuckled reply.

"Just listen at the doors and when you hear Kenny Rogers singing, that's him."

So the Chief Angel roamed the corridors of paradise and soon enough heard the words of a song.

"... on a warm summers evening, on a train bound for nowhere, met up with a gambler ... "

The angel knocked and the door was opened by an old man gently stroking his beard.

"I know why you're here and yes, I've heard the news," the old man said as he followed his guide to the throne room.

God got straight down to business.

"Many remember how closely your name will always be linked with the Panthers but more remember your kindness to everyone who crossed your path in life," He said.

"It's unprecedented but maybe -- just maybe, we could hide you in disguise in the crowd at Port Macquarie for one afternoon."

The old man went back to stroking his goatee, deep in thought.

At last he spoke.

"Thanks for the offer, brother, but no," he said in a gravelly tone.

"You know, I had joys and sorrows in my life but just as many blessings.

"Family, friends, the Panthers ... and there was one motto I always carried with me."

He again paused in thought, remembering the day soon after he passed from the world when 'his lads' ran out onto the ground that bore his name -- for the first time without him.

Memories flooded back of the banner stretching 30 metres across the roof of the amenities block, begging him to come out for one last parade.

And the tears that were shed that day as they all looked up to the sky.

The old man said softly: "You've got to know when to hold, know when to fold, know when to walk away, know when to run ... "

Silence filled the room till the old man spoke again.

"No need for you to send me off to Shark Park, brother ... I already plan to be there.

"When the big, bald bloke and his boys run onto the field, I'll be there in spirit.

"And whatever happens at the end -- if there are cheers or tears, I reckon I'll be looking over everybody's shoulder."

God gave a grin because he already knew what the old man's reply would be.

"When you get back to your quarters you'll find a bottle of bourbon waiting so you can toast the boys," He said.

"I'd like that, brother," came the reply as the old man took his memories back to his honoured corner of the sky.

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