ALBURY identity Bob "Boola" Mannering has been fondly remembered as the "life of the party" after succumbing to a string of recent health battles at the weekend.
The 85-year-old was a larger than life sporting figure and businessman who battled cancer for the past 18 months.
Mr Mannering played for the Albury Tigers in the late 1950s before stints with Balldale and Yackandandah.
After his playing days, he took up umpiring and officiated in more than 900 matches across the region.
Les Waldron, who played with Mr Mannering at Albury, said his former team-mate was a flamboyant personality on and off the field.
He recalled one match at Yarrawonga when Mr Mannering performed a handstand on his way to gathering a loose ball in the goal square and booting an easy goal.
"It was a bit like Jason Akermanis, but next minute the coach Jack Jones dragged him," Mr Waldron said.
Mr Mannering played in a premiership with Balldale in 1962 with Albury team-mates including Joe and Tony Ratcliffe and Barry Takle and then at Yackandandah,
He took up umpiring in the late 1960s and was named as an official legend of the Albury Umpires League five years ago after also being made a life member.
"He was a tremendous character, a friend to everybody," AUL stalwart Roger Lescun said.
"Some people thought he was a bit of a court jester, but he was far from that.
"He was very sincere, very generous.
"He was the life of the party, but got the attention of people in the right way.
"He was also a very good umpire of junior footy and understood the importance of discipline."
Mr Mannering grew up in Sydney and his first job when he came to Albury as a teenager was working for his uncle Abe Bounader at the Wodonga cinema.
He operated the service station on the corner of Young and Guinea streets in Albury in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
His funeral will be held on Tuesday at Gateway Life Church in Lavington which his son Jason founded in 2000.
He is survived by wife Angela, children Jason, Mark and Ordette and extended family members.
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