~~Don~~ is given an emotional farewell

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Adelaide: Thousands of Australians lined suburban streets on Thursday to pay tribute to Donald Bradman, as the cricket legend's casket was carried in procession to a private funeral service in his hometown Adelaide.Bradman's only son John walked for a short way in front of the silver-grey hearse carrying his father's body, as waiting crowds of people - young and old - broke into warm applause to bid farewell to the world's most prolific batsman.Some threw flowers and others saluted with cricket bats as the funeral cortege, escorted by police cars and motorcycles, drove slowly along the 15-kilometre route from a suburban funeral home to the picturesque Centennial Park cemetery.Traffic banked up behind the procession and slowed further when people surged onto the streets to pay their last respects.''Farewell to Gentleman Don. Rest in Peace,'' read one placard, held aloft by a young mother on the edge of a main road. ''I feel very emotional, very sad,'' said Des Aplin, 73, as the glass-sided hearse slipped behind the cemetery gates for the evening service, attended by one of Bradman's greatest fans, Australia's Prime Minister John Howard.''He was a wonderful man,'' added Aplin's wife Helen, 67, admitting to feeling a personal loss at Bradman's death as the warm autumn sun set behind the cemetery. ''It was inevitable...but when it came, it just shocked us. He was unique, a part of our history.''The reclusive Bradman, who died on Sunday aged 92, turned down the offer of a state funeral, asking instead to be privately cremated.Details about the service, attended by only about 100 people, including Governor-General Sir William Deane, and about Bradman's final resting place have been kept private.A public memorial service, to be held on March 25 at St Peter's Cathedral, is to be broadcast live across Australia.Bradman, who has long been regarded by sports-mad Australians as a national treasure, compiled 6,996 runs in 52 Tests during the 1930s and 1940s to finish with a tantalizing average of 99.94.''He was one of the best,'' said Loretta Keough, 62, who waited outside the funeral home for more than an hour to catch a last glimpse of the man known to generations as simply ''The Don''. (c) Reuters Limited. Click here for RestrictionsExtras:
Bradman: End of a legendary era

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