BRIAN Gilcrist was the recipient of a send-off befitting his status as the finest player to wear the maroon and white of the Wodonga Bulldogs in the Ovens and Murray league.
The Sacred Heart Catholic church was close to capacity on Tuesday for the funeral of the dual premiership defender and five-time club best and fairest winner and O and M Hall of Fame inductee and Team of the Century member.
But former parish priest Father Dennis Crameri, who led the service, said the 80-year-old's influence transcended the sporting fields he dominated across three decades.
"We all felt better in his presence," Father Crameri said.
Gilcrist was born in Rutherglen as the youngest of four children with his father Fred the runner-up in the 1935 Morris Medal.
The family moved to Wodonga via Melbourne when Gilcrist was nine and he left school aged 14 to start a motor mechanic apprenticeship at Toole's Motors and later spent three decades working at the Kendall Bradford foundry.
Granddaughter Aimee Lefoe led off the words of remembrance which also included tributes from family friends Dan Toner and Frank Elkington and former O and M chairman Graeme Patterson.
Mr Toner met Gilcrist for the first time when he joined Kiewa-Sandy Creek in the mid-1970s.
"Brian was an amazing footballer, but he was also an amazing father, husband and grandfather," he said.
Mr Patterson said Gilcrist was widely respected among his own, but also rival clubs in the three leagues he played in.
"We all leave a footprint behind on life's journey, but some, like Brian, leave a permanent legacy," he said.
"He is remembered for his uncanny ability to read the flight of the ball, capacity to out-mark much taller opponents, to play in front and his long clearing drop kicks.
"He was skillful, tough, but very fair."
Mr Elkington, who is also a Wodonga Bulldogs great of yesteryear and O and M Hall of Famer, said he had vivid memories of Gilcrist's first senior match aged 15.
"I couldn't have imagined the skinny, laid-back kid would turn out to be the player he was," he said.
"He was the complete act."
Mr Elkington's son Scott assisted him with the tribute.
Gilcrist's premiership team-mates from the late 1960s in attendance at the funeral included coach Mick Bone, Ray Smedley, Bevan Melgard, Bruce Hiskins, Bill Scammell, Eddie Rogalski, Terry Smith, Bob Whitehead and Des Richardson.
Gilcrist is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, Loretta, children Merise and Anthony (deceased) and their families.
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