Like the thousands around him, black sunnies weren’t dark enough to hide the tears rolling down Darren McAndrew’s face.
Clutching his nine-year-old son Ky, the Sydneysider struggled to keep hold of his emotions as he looked over the SCG pitch of Phillip Hughes’ last stand.
“I feel sorry for the boy,” said Mr McAndrew, of La Perouse.
“He was a good kid. I would’ve liked to have seen more of him.
“It’s a sad day for the sport, for the country, his family, his mates.”
The father-and-son were part of a 2000-strong crowd that filled the SCG Members Stand and sprawled across the field on Wednesday to watch Hughes’ funeral on the big screen.
Sixty-three cricket bats and caps – representing the Test cricketer’s final run score – were lined across the field, each inscribed with an image of Hughes and a special moment from his life.
“Phillip Hughes’ cricket skills reveal themselves very early – he scores 30 in his first Saturday morning Kanga Cricket outing. And the rise is quick,” one read.
Photo memorial, flowers and cricket gear were laid behind the stumps where the 25-year-old collapsed after being hit by a bouncer.
The pitch and surrounding centre square were cordoned off as a mark of respect, with “Phillip Hughes Test Player 408 1988 – 2014, 63 not out” painted on nearby turf.
“He could’ve been one of our best players for Australia and unfortunately it wasn’t to be,” said Brian Jolly, a member of the Doug Walters Club, the official supporter group of the NSW Blues.
“It’s a very, very sad day.”
Many wore black, but there was mainly a splattering of green, gold and blue across the ground.
Adrian Horvath, 25, and his mother Joanna Walczak, instead wore cricket whites, emblazoned with “RIP 408” in honour of Hughes.
“This shirt will stay with us forever,” said Ms Walczak.
In his tribute to Hughes, Australian captain Michael Clarke said the SCG will forever be the place where he fell.
“Is this what indigenous Australians believe about a person’s spirit being connected with a land upon which they walk?” he told mourners in Hughes’ home town of Macksville.
“If so, I know they’re right about the SCG.
“His spirit has touched it and it will forever be a sacred ground for me.”