Tributes are seen by a statue of Shane Warne outside the MCG in Melbourne, Monday, March 28, 2022 (AAP Image/Luis Ascui)
Shane Warne, one of Melbourne’s biggest personalities, will be given one of the grandest farewells the city has ever seen.
Almost four weeks since the cricket legend’s death in Thailand, a memorial service at the MCG on Wednesday will be attended by up to 65,000 people.
It will be a celebration like no other as celebrities and the Victorian public pay tribute to a larger-than-life character who transcended sport.
With 50,000 seats already taken, another 10,000-15,000 tickets have been released to ensure it becomes one of the biggest memorial services in Australian history.
Tonight we farewell a legend.
Shane Warne inspired a generation of cricketers, and provided countless irreplaceable memories.
If you’re coming to the State Memorial Service tonight, please read through the important information on our website prior to arriving at the MCG. pic.twitter.com/WRHN39POVG
— Melbourne Cricket Ground (@MCG) March 29, 2022
An estimated 300,000 mourners turned out for General Sir John Monash’s farewell in 1931, while more than 100,000 people lined the streets of Melbourne for long-serving Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies’ funeral in 1978.
But this service will be as unique as Warne himself.
A number of international stars, including Elton John, Chris Martin, Robbie Williams and Ed Sheeran will perform remotely, while Australian rocker Jon Stevens will front a band playing some of Warne’s favourite INXS and Noiseworks songs.
Iconic Australians Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Kylie and Dannii Minogue, James Packer, Eric Bana, Greg Norman, as well as American surfing legend Kelly Slater, will also pay tribute to arguably the country’s greatest-ever cricketer after Don Bradman.
Great mate Aaron Hamill, who played 98 AFL games for Warne’s beloved St Kilda, is confident the send-off will capture the larrikin’s spirit.
“He’d be bloody shattered he’s missed it,” Hamill said.
“I know that – this sort of shindig would be right up his alley, particularly in Melbourne.
“I know he’d be really humbled, he’d be really proud to get the recognition, he never seeked it but he’d certainly be sitting up there, with probably a dart (cigarette) in hand, and very grateful.
“He often used to talk about seizing the moment and the opportunity and there is no fear within. And that’s really how he attacked life.”
Four out of Australia’s five free-to-air TV networks will broadcast the service, while Fox Sports have dedicated four of their channels to broadcast Warne content in the lead-up to the event.
It will also be livestreamed on the Victorian Government website.
Warne’s three children – Brooke, Summer and Jackson – his father Keith and brother Jason will also speak while the Shane Warne Stand, formerly known as the Great Southern Stand, will be formally unveiled.
The two-hour event will get underway at 7pm AEDT.
© AAP 2022