Toads triumph in Nick's memory
THE players, filled with a mixture of elation and sadness, stood before Mick and Sue Clunes in the dressing room and clapped.
It was a spontaneous outpouring of emotion that the Clunes could relate to as they watched Nambour Toads' under-19 team win the rugby union grand final on Saturday.
It was the team their late son Nick played for before his death in a road accident earlier this year.
The young men standing before them were not just Nick's teammates - they were his mates.
While delighted by the team's triumph, the occasion was always going to be difficult for the couple because their boy was not there to savour it.
But they knew a desire to win the game for their son was a major motivator for the players.
The Coolum 18-year-old was killed when he was struck by a car while walking along Eudlo Rd in the early hours of April 30.
The club has since retired his No.6 jersey in his honour.
"They (the players) all stood up and clapped, which was pretty hard … because my son wasn't playing," Mr Clunes said yesterday.
"It was pretty emotional. And today being Father's Day doesn't make it much better."
Following the match, the Clunes presented the players with wristbands in memory of Nick.
"I know they were all thinking about him," Mr Clunes said.
Nambour Toads secretary Don Parry said the desire to win the game for Nick could have been the deciding factor in the 18-17 victory over Noosa.
It was the first time the Toads had beaten their grand final opponents this season.
Mr Parry said the flanker's death rocked the players and for a while they "emotionally lost their way".
Some did not turn up for matches, forcing the Toads to field incomplete sides on a number of occasions.
One of his best mates has not played since the tragedy.
But as the finals approached, Mr Parry said the players regrouped and spoke of "wanting to win it for him".
"I just think they started to become focused on wanting to win the grand final because of the significance," he said.
Mark Tytherleigh, 31, and Annette Joy Cartwright, 38, have been charged with failing to make a reasonable endeavour to obtain medical aid and showing callous disregard in relation to Nick's death.