Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns - who faced off against Hill in the famous 1997 ARL grand final - was among the big names to pay their respects on Thursday

Footy larrikin Terry Hill was sent off one last time on Thursday at a service befitting the rugby league great and popular television personality.

Hill died of a heart attack in the Philippines on April 24 aged just 52, almost two decades after he left the field in the final game of a storied 246-match career.

His death shocked the NRL world, where Hill not only made a name for himself as a ferocious competitor across 16 seasons but became a Footy Show fixture and featured in Lowes Menswear commercials.

Hill played out of Redfern, Bondi, Campbelltown, Brookvale and Leichhardt but his friends and fans gathered to farewell him at Kingsford, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns - who faced off against Hill in the famous 1997 ARL grand final - was among the big names to pay their respects on Thursday

Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns – who faced off against Hill in the famous 1997 ARL grand final – was among the big names to pay their respects on Thursday

Hill's fellow Manly legend Cliff Lyons is pictured arriving at the service to remember the Sea Eagles centre, who became a bona fide TV star on The Footy Show

Hill’s fellow Manly legend Cliff Lyons is pictured arriving at the service to remember the Sea Eagles centre, who became a bona fide TV star on The Footy Show

Hill's death late last month left the footy community in a deep state of shock

Hill’s death late last month left the footy community in a deep state of shock

Taylah Hill, daughter of the Sea Eagles champion, is pictured speaking at his farewell

Taylah Hill, daughter of the Sea Eagles champion, is pictured speaking at his farewell

Appropriately for a knockabout character known for his love of a beer and racing greyhounds, ‘Tezza’s’ funeral was held not in a church but at The Juniors leagues club. 

Among former players paying their respects were Andrew Johns, Cliff Lyons, David Gillespie, Craig Coleman, Jim Dymock, Jim Serdaris, Brett Stewart, Craig Field, Joe Thomas and Nathan Wood.

Legendary trainer Johnny Lewis represented the boxing fraternity with Peter Mitrevski, with Lewis known for making world champions out of the Newtown Police Boys Club, which Hill used to train at in his younger days.

Hundreds of mourners filled the club’s Wintle Theatre, with Australian, NSW and Wests Tigers jumpers placed on the stage next to a jersey from Hill’s junior club Zetland.

Master of ceremonies Norm Nicolas remembered his friend as ‘the life of the party’ – a jester with an intoxicating smile, ‘who never ever forgot where he came from’.

Former Wests, Dogs and Eels star Jim Dymock (right) carries Hill's casket. He was Tezza's best mate and had known him since childhood

Former Wests, Dogs and Eels star Jim Dymock (right) carries Hill’s casket. He was Tezza’s best mate and had known him since childhood

Pictured: Brookvale Hall of Fame members Steve Menzies (centre) and Lyons

Pictured: Brookvale Hall of Fame members Steve Menzies (centre) and Lyons  

‘When he walked in a room it glistened, it didn’t just shine,’ Nicolas told the crowd.

Daughter Taylah Hill, who is a press secretary for Foreign Minister Penny Wong, spoke of her father’s humble origins growing up on the streets of Erskineville.

He would often tell her, ‘Never forget I’m Terry Hill from Erskineville’, for which Taylah always had the same response.

‘I’d say, ‘Dad, these days this doesn’t make you tough’.’

Taylah said her father was a ‘thoughtful and sensitive man’ and ‘a big softie’, as well as ‘a big kid who lived in the moment’.

He was self-deprecating and never minded being the target of jokes but no mug when it came to the punt.

‘My dad would never claim to be book-smart but he was certainly smarter than the bookies,’ she said.

Hill's friends and family are pictured carrying his coffin at the memorial

Hill’s friends and family are pictured carrying his coffin at the memorial

Pictured: Footy star turned champion boxer Anthony Mundine

Pictured: Footy star turned champion boxer Anthony Mundine 

‘Strong, tough, he took no prisoners. He was never afraid of anything and always wanted to win.’

Taylah recalled how much her father enjoyed being recognised and his generosity when dealing with members of the public.

During a trip to Thailand he was besieged in a Phuket sports bar by Australians wanting him to pose for photographs.

As Taylah wondered whether such adulation ever annoyed him, Hill winked at her and said: ‘Still got it’.

Taylah said she would always be proud of her father and his achievements.

‘I just thought I’d get to have him for a lot longer,’ she said.

‘He had so much more life to live. I feel lost now that he’s not just a phone call or a Facetime away.’

Best friend and former teammate Jim Dymock, who had known Hill since childhood, spoke someone who always looked after his mates.

‘I’m going to miss you brother,’ Dymock said. ‘Thank you for all the memories.’

Born in inner-city Newtown and raised in nearby Erskineville, Hill cracked first grade at the South Sydney Rabbitohs as an 18-year-old in 1990 before moving to Eastern Suburbs then Wests.

He switched to Manly in 1994 for the first of two stints with the Sea Eagles where he established himself as a regular representative player.

Manly grand final winner Brett Stewart (pictured, real) was also among the mourners

Manly grand final winner Brett Stewart (pictured, real) was also among the mourners

Hill's mate and fellow grand final-winning footy great Dymock also spoke at the service

Hill’s mate and fellow grand final-winning footy great Dymock also spoke at the service 

Usually positioned in the centres, Hill was an occasional lock or five-eighth, turning out 17 times for NSW in State of Origin (1993-2000) and nine times for Australia (1994-1998).

Hill was part of Manly’s premiership-winning side in 1996 and the leading try scorer in the ARL competition at the height of the Super League war in 1997.  

He shifted to West Tigers for three seasons before returning to Manly where he hung up the boots in 2005.

Hill’s appearances on Nine Network’s Footy Show during the show’s most successful period, and on Lowes commercials with other football identities, brought him a wider audience and further fame.

On the Footy Show, Hill hosted live crosses to the Thursday night south coast greyhound races at Dapto where he would cheer on his dog Nads – ‘Go Nads!’

Hill's status as one of the most popular and accomplished players of his era was reflected in the large turnout at the Souths Juniors club in Sydney

Hill’s status as one of the most popular and accomplished players of his era was reflected in the large turnout at the Souths Juniors club in Sydney 

Footy greats David Gillespie (left), Reni Maitua (second from right) and Joe Thomas (right) arrive to mark Hill's passing

Footy greats David Gillespie (left), Reni Maitua (second from right) and Joe Thomas (right) arrive to mark Hill’s passing

Some of the jerseys 'Tezza' wore during his glittering career were on display

Some of the jerseys ‘Tezza’ wore during his glittering career were on display

The NSW Blues and Kangaroos star's famous Origin clash with Gorden Tallis was featured at his star-studded farewell

The NSW Blues and Kangaroos star’s famous Origin clash with Gorden Tallis was featured at his star-studded farewell

Fellow presenters would make fun of Hill’s speech impediment, a pronounced lisp which he understood was part of his comedic appeal.   

‘It was all done in good fun, there was no harm intended and I actually got a kick out of it,’ he once said. 

‘I have had this speech problem ever since I was a kid and I’ve got it for life. 

‘They teased me about it at school but my parents encouraged me to laugh along with them so I wouldn’t get upset.

‘My back teeth failed to grow all the way down and there’s a little pocket of air that flows through, especially when I try to make the ‘S” sound. 

‘I suppose the lisp has become a sort of trademark for me, sort of like Ita Buttrose and Ken Callander.’

Footy star Nathan Wood is pictured arriving at the service at Kingsford in Sydney's inner south

Footy star Nathan Wood is pictured arriving at the service at Kingsford in Sydney’s inner south

While Hill was a cult figure due to his of-field antics, he was part of one of the modern game’s defining dramas after being drafted to Easts in 1991 despite singing with Western Suburbs.

He was among players who accused the game’s governing body of restraint of trade in legal case that ended with a High Court win.

 Following his retirement from the NRL, Hill gave back to the sport that made him famous by coaching clubs Umina and Kincumber on the NSW Central Coast. 

He married three times, first to Tracey Benson with whom he had three children, then to league Immortal Bob Fulton’s daughter Kristie.

Hill was married to his third wife Marilou for 10 years and was stepfather to her two children. He spent his recent years travelling to and from her homeland, where he did charity work. 

His death led to an outpouring of tributes from former teammates, including hardman David ‘Cement’ Gillespie who had last seen Hill in the Philippines where they raised money for an orphanage.

Hill (pictured playing for Manly in 2005) rose to the very top of the game in a long and highly successful career

Hill (pictured playing for Manly in 2005) rose to the very top of the game in a long and highly successful career

The lovable larrikin is pictured (centre) with Beau Ryan (left) in a more recent appearance on The Footy Show after he'd retired from rugby league. There was never a dull moment when he was on screen

The lovable larrikin is pictured (centre) with Beau Ryan (left) in a more recent appearance on The Footy Show after he’d retired from rugby league. There was never a dull moment when he was on screen

‘I was with Terry only last week,’ Gillespie said as news spread Hill had died.

‘He was his usual self, the life of the party. Terry was fine and had everyone in stitches at the fundraiser. His death is sudden, unexpected and incredibly sad. 

‘He was a very generous person. As a player, Terry was relentless, tough and uncompromising. He would give it and take it.’

Craig Coleman, who played with Hill at South Sydney, recognised his younger teammate was destined for greatness on the football field.

‘Terry was one of the game’s real characters and a great player,’ he said.

‘I’d watched him come through Souths as a kid. He was a proud Souths junior and we always knew he was destined for big things.’

Coleman also  revealed details about Hill’s final hours.

‘He’d been there for a couple of weeks and rang a mate and said he wasn’t feeling well,’ Coleman said.

‘The mate told him to lie down… apparently he went to sleep and never woke up.’

The powerful centre switched to Wests Tigers (pictured) in 2000, but returned home to Brookvale to finish his first-grade career with Manly in 2005

The powerful centre switched to Wests Tigers (pictured) in 2000, but returned home to Brookvale to finish his first-grade career with Manly in 2005

Hill won the 1996 premiership with Manly and was the top tryscorer in the ARL competition during the height of the Super League war in 1997

Hill won the 1996 premiership with Manly and was the top tryscorer in the ARL competition during the height of the Super League war in 1997

Steve Menzies, another of Manly’s favourite sons, remembered two sides of Hill’s personality, on and off the field.

‘Terry was a ferocious competitor… the kind of guy you love to play alongside,’ Menzies recalled.

‘He was tough, passionate and athletic.

‘Off the field, he loved a laugh, telling jokes, and he had endless one liners. He loved being the centre of attention.’

The Sea Eagles honoured Hill’s contribution to rugby league well beyond the Northern Beaches. 

‘Terry will always be fondly remembered at Manly,’ club CEO Tony Mestrov said.

‘Terry was a much loved and respected figure at not only the Sea Eagles, but across rugby league, where he played for several clubs.

‘On behalf of everyone at the Sea Eagles, we offer our deepest and sincere condolences to Terry’s family and friends during this difficult time.

Greyhound Racing NSW hailed Hill as an ‘owner and major supporter of the sport’. 

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