Tributes to Aussie who never forgot town

PUBLISHED: 14:32 08 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:49 03 March 2010

A SEA of blue and white football shirts festooned the funeral of a loyal Tractorboys fan who travelled half way round the globe to support his beloved team.

A SEA of blue and white football shirts festooned the funeral of a loyal Tractorboys fan who travelled half way round the globe to support his beloved team.

Andrew Heffer, aged 41, originally from Renfrew Road, Ipswich, died at home in Australia, on April 27, after a long battle against cancer.

His parents took their two sons to live Down Under when Mr Heffer was at school. But his love for the Super Blues never waned.

With his brother, Martin, he travelled the 9,000 miles back to see the team when he could, staying with his aunt and uncle, Rita and Len Hogan, at their house on Renfrew Road.

Mrs Hogan. 60, said: "Andy adored Ipswich, especially the football club. Although he was thousands of miles away, half of him always remained here.

"He used to keep up with the club's news on the radio and on the internet. Last time he came over was especially for the play-offs in May 2000."

On his return to Australia Mr Heffer became ill with cancer of the kidney, so had to have it removed. Doctor's thought this would cure the disease and so Mr Heffer returned to work. But some time later the cancer returned.

Mrs Hogan added: "We went over to see him for Christmas and returned in January. That was the last time I saw him. We will miss him terribly as he was such a great family man."

The funeral was held on Friday in Pinaroo Cemetery, in Perth. A party of around 80 friends and family dispensed with traditional black suits in favour the blue shirts of his beloved club.

After committing the body to the grave the hymns finished with a resounding version of the anthem You'll Never Walk Alone. The mourners began gently swaying before linking arms and singing their hearts out against a background of blue and white flowers.

Back in Ipswich, a crowd of his family and friends repeated the sentiments. Around 50 people attended a tribute to Mr Heffer in his local pub, the Selkirk, on Selkirk Road on Friday evening.

The sport-mad bachelor – who also liked cricket and his local Australian rules football club, Perth Glory – was born in Ipswich when his parents, Len and Sonja, lived in Renfrew Road. He attended St Mary's School in Woodbridge Road until age of nine.

After years of talking about it, his parents, finally decided to emigrate to Australia, taking Andrew and his older brother Martin with them.

But the two brothers could not forget the football club and whenever they visited their family back in England they also included a detour to see a match.

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