WELL-known umpire Noel "Banjo" Pattison lost his battle with cancer over the weekend.
The 77-year-old was a larger than life character who was one of the most familiar faces in country football after having umpired more than 1600 matches.
And while his birth certificate read Noel Joseph Layton Pattison, to most people on the Border he was simply known as Banjo.
Banjo was regarded as a more than handy footballer in his prime and had playing stints with Culcairn and Albury.
He made his senior debut for Culcairn as a 17-year-old before being recruited by Albury.
During the 1960s, Banjo notched 160 matches at the Albury Sportsground under coaches Jack Jones, Ken Bennett and Fred Goldsmith.
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After his stint at Albury he returned to Culcairn and in one of his proudest sporting moments was award best-on-ground in the Lions' 1968 grand final triumph over Lockhart in the Farrer league.
Once retired from football, Banjo was coaxed into umpiring by Peter Smith, who is also well-known in the umpiring fraternity.
The cunning whistle blower only ever reported one player after experiencing a late night at the tribunal early on in his umpiring career.
Banjo went on to become one of the longest serving umpires who is an official legend of the Albury Umpires League after also being made a life member.
AUL stalwart Roger Lescun recalled Banjo alongside "Boola" Mannering, who passed away recently, should have started a comedy act.
"Banjo was the life of the party, whether that was at training or socially," he said.
"He was good company and as you know you could write a book on him he has that many good stories.
"Banjo and Boola were great mates and when they got together, could have been a comedy act in their own right.
"They were both born comedians and together they were just a ball of laughs really.
"The two had a huge influence on people wanting to join the umpires at the time because of the atmosphere they created."
Lescun said the only thing Banjo loved more than umpiring, was his family.
"Although he loved a joke, first and foremost he was a family man," he said.
"His family was the centre of his life.
"I know one of his proudest moments was when he umpired along his son, Damien.
"I remember he was as proud as punch that day."
His funeral will be held on Monday at St Matthew's Church, Albury.
He is survived by wife Colleen and children Gaye, Jodie, Damien and Cherie.
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