BRAEDON Hensel’s farewell innings was played out before an estimated 1200 mourners at Sacred Heart Church in North Albury yesterday.
The funeral for the selfless and courageous 22-year-old, who lost his three-year battle with cancer last week, packed out the church and parish hall and others stood silently in the grounds.
The 90-minute service was conducted by Father Kevin Flanagan and Fathers Terry Mahedy and Paul Hart.
Family, friends, sporting teammates and rivals paid their final respects to Mr Hensel.
He had been diagnosed with cancer in early 2011, but tried to live his life to the full to the end.
The service began with family and friends placing symbols of Mr Hensel’s life on the altar.
They included his St Patrick’s cricket gear, a fishing rod he used to try and land an elusive giant Murray Cod, St Patrick’s Thurgoona and Albury football jumpers, a Xavier High School jumper and photo from a trip he made to the US 12 months ago with three mates.
His Patties’ cricket cap also rested on the coffin.
EVER BRAVE: Braedon Hensel's last innings played with style
The service included readings from his aunt Virginia Mitsch anduncle Andrew Godde.
A cousin, Jess Mitsch, paid tribute to the many medical professionals who had been a huge part of Mr Hensel’s life in the past four years.
“May they continue to embrace new technology so they can one day eradicate cancer,” she said.
Father Flanagan said some of Mr Hensel’s best friends were from opposition sporting teams.
That underlined his acceptance among them.
Indeed, he had actually felt sorry for inflicting his suffering onto others in his final days, Father Flanagan said.
“He would be embarrassed I said that,” he added.
Mum Michelle Hensel and younger brother Rhys read eulogies.
“Rhys and Braedon always loved playing as they got older and it
always would involve some kind of sport, usually endless games of backyard cricket and footy and usually end with breaking my windows,” Mrs Hensel said.
“Braedon made many, many friends and most of them are still his friends today.”
Mrs Hensel said her son refused to play the victim throughout his fight with cancer.
She revealed he only once “played the cancer card” — when he forgot his Myki card when travelling on a tram to Etihad Stadium and was able to dodge a fine.
Rhys said his brother’s biggest passions were his mates and cricket.
“It wasn’t always about winning, scoring runs or taking wickets,” he said.
“It was simply being with his mates.
“He would always be the first one to training, the first one on game day and the last one to leave.
“He loved talking tactics and having a beer with the opposition.”
Representatives from St Patrick’s Cricket Club and Thurgoona, Albury and Culcairn football clubs formed a guard of honour at the end of the service.
A service sheet quoted actor Christopher Reeve: “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”