The Waves Warrick Stuart in action on the football field.
The Waves Warrick Stuart in action on the football field. Mike Knott BUN090618SOCCER5

Honouring our mate: Special game in memory of Warrick Stuart

FOOTBALL: It was so much more than a friendly when The Waves and Bingera played on Saturday night.

For both clubs it was a way to honour a mate, a former teammate and a great player.

The Waves and Bingera started preparations for the new Wide Bay Premier League season with a match against each other, which doubled as a tribute to Warrick Stuart who died last week after taking his life.

Stuart was a leading player at both clubs, making his senior debut for Bingera before playing for The Waves until this year.

The friendly, which had been organised before Stuart's passing, was held after the players agreed to play.

"Tuesday night we addressed the players, and asked do they still want to play the friendly," The Waves president Paul Murphy said.

"We have a really close playing group that were really good mates with Warrick, they wanted the game to go ahead."

The Waves used the emotion of the week and the passion to play to full effect, storming to a 4-0 lead in the first 20 minutes.

Bingera responded in the final 70 minutes, by scoring themselves, but The Waves won 4-1 to signal their intentions for the start of the year.

"It was a really different pre-season game," Murphy said.

"John Brillante (our coach) wasn't there but Jason De Papi put up his hand to take the guys.

"JB has been working on lots of things, a lot to do with fitness and I did see that our fitness levels were really high."

The game was attended by Warrick's family.

"They came on to the field with the players, did a minute's silence with us and hugged everyone of the players on both sides," Murphy said.

"Both sides, they both needed that."

Warrick's number, which was 10, was also not used during the game for The Waves.

But his jersey was still there in the change rooms just like the jersey for the other players.

It was then presented to his mother after the game.

Murphy said the club had had talks with Bingera to hold another tribute match during the season to honour the life of Warrick and his achievements for both clubs.

But it will also be a day to raise awareness to mental health and why communicating with each other is so important in any environment.

"From our point of view it will be for Warrick, but for the bigger picture as well to raise awareness it can happen to anyone," he said.

"I've been contacted by so many people, local clubs, clubs on the Fraser Coast, saying what a fantastic player and special guy Warrick was.

"I'm really proud of the senior boys and how they got through this week. We had 50 odd blokes turn up to training all to play for Warrick."

Bingera president Karl Zimmerlie said the message of mental health had also been addressed to the players.

The club is dealing with its second death in the space of 12 months after Michael Peterson died.

"It's all about mateship and that has been the message in our group chats," Zimmerlie said.

"We've said 'guys any dramas just please talk to someone we are there to help'."

Zimmerlie said the club would assist The Waves in any way possible to make the contests later this year honour Warrick's memory.

The club wasn't concerned about the scoreline and insist the defending Wide Bay Premier League premiers will be just fine come the start of the season.

"It's a pre-season game, we were a bit rusty," Bingera coach Andrew Donnalie said.

"The Waves had a spring in their step early and they could have played Manchester United and still scored four given the emotion.

"After that we pulled it back and settled into the game well. It was a great first up hit out for us."

Bingera will now play the United Park Eagles in a friendly next Tuesday with The Waves taking on the KSS Jets at the new Fraser Coast Sports Precinct on Saturday.

Before that both clubs will pay their respects to Warrick with his funeral being held at Des Allen & Co. Funerals at 10am on Wednesday.

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