Pictured here in a marquee at the Heidelberg football ground on Thursday (August 15) are members of Parade’s final year class of 1983, from left to right: Mark Beers, Paul Fahey, Peter Caddy, John Rogers, Damien Hehir, Wayne Grogan, Garry Miller, Michael Vear, Rob Costa and Chris Doolan, with Chris O’Halloran kneeling in front.

These 11 Old Paradians -amongst almost 2000 mourners in all - had earlier converged on the Heidelberg Town Hall to bid farewell to their former classmate Barry (‘Bazza’) McBrearty, who died suddenly at his home on the morning of Monday, August 5, at the tender age of 53.

Having followed his older brothers Patrick (1977), Peter (1978) and William (1980) through Parade’s gates more than 30 years ago, Barry forged immediate bonds that proved unbreakable to the end with fellows like those pictured here and fellow Old Paradian Tim Wilson, who joined Patrick and another member of the class, David Slattery, in delivering the eulogy.

This week, Tim reflected on the life of his lost pal whom he had known for four decades.

“In 1984 Barry played Under 18s football for Kingsbury then joined the Under 19s at Heidelberg,” Tim recalled. “I got him down there because another old schoolmate ‘Hehiry’ (Damien Hehir) was also going to play. Anyway ‘Baz’ came down and played, but he was a better basketballer.

“He also played guitar for a bit of fun and did some gigs with a few bands, one of which was called ‘Croc Attack’.”

Barry’s calling in life came by way of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. Tim remembered that Barry commenced with the MFB as an apprentice and after five years saw fit to further his studies to become a fireman. At the time of his passing, Barry was a Senior Station Officer at Carlton and in the 36th year of his involvement with the brigade.

On a personal level, Tim described Barry as “exceptionally loyal to his friends, his kids and his wife”.

“And he always had a smile. That’s what everyone is saying. He was one of those engaging characters who lit up the room,” Tim said.

Tim last saw Barry the night before his passing when they raised a glass at the Eagle Bar in Eaglemont in the company of Damien and a few Heidelberg identities. On leaving the premises, Barry joined Tim at his nearby home with his (Tim’s) two sons - and there they shared an ale with the Wilsons.

“At about nine o’clock Baz said ‘I better go’,” Tim explained. “My oldest son, Lachlan, said ‘I’ll give you a lift’, but as Baz lived in Heidelberg Heights he said ‘No, I’ll walk home. I could do with a walk’. So we all said goodbye to him out the front and waved as he walked off . . . ”

Hundreds of firemen, together with students of Barry’s sons’ school Marcellin College, formed a guard of honour, as Barry’s coffin was ferried away on a fire engine to the strains of ACDC’s Long Way To the Top. The funeral was conducted by Gabrielle Walsh, sister of the current Old Paradians’ Association committeeman Andy Walsh (1971) and Matt Ryan (1984) arranged for the printing of the funeral programs.

The second image featured with this tribute was taken at the College six years ago, at the 30-year reunion of Parade’s Class of 1983. Barry is pictured at the far left with his arm around the shoulder of the late Paul Fenton, and Garry Miller and John Rogers make up the quartet.

Barry McBrearty is survived by his wife Sue, sons Jack (18) and Angus (15), and daughter Edan (12) – together with the many, many friends upon whom he made an indelible impression.