MEMBERS of the region's rugby union community gathered on Friday to raise a glass to one of the sport's favourite sons.
Pirates life member Graham Yeo died peacefully on February 3, after a battle with motor neurone disease (MND).
A long-time member of the region's rugby union community, Mr Yeo has been credited for helping forge Pirates into the powerhouse club it has become.
Long-time friend and former teammate Daryl Bath said Mr Yeo was "held in very high regard" everywhere he went.
"We were good friends for 40 plus years and he will be sorely missed," Mr Bath told the Leader.
"He was always so funny, entertaining and easy to talk to.
"I really don't think there's anyone who has a bad word to say about him, he was a local legend."
As well as being a dedicated member of the Pirates community, Mr Yeo played a vital role for Central North Ruby Union (CNRU), as team manager for the zone's representative team.
CNRU president Tony Burns said Mr Yeo was "one of the sports all-around good guys".
"I first met Graham in 1985 when I first returned to the play in the region," Mr Burns said.
"He was so welcoming and so supportive of not just Pirates, but the sport of rugby union as a whole.
"For many years, Graham was the team manager of our representative team and that enabled him to form strong ties with people from right across the zone.
"I know he will be deeply missed by everyone in the CNRU and we can only extend our deepest sympathies to his family."
Mr Burns said Mr Yeo's legacy would live on at Pirates for many years.
"In a lot of ways, he was the heart and soul of that club," he said.
"When he first came along, the club wasn't overly successful and didn't really have what you would call much of a junior program.
"However, thanks to a lot of hard work from Graham and others, Pirates were able to establish a junior base and eventually win an under-19 premiership in the mid-1990s.
"I'm sure that would have brought Graham a lot of pride and certainly helped lay the foundations for what Pirates, as a club, has become."
Mr Yeo will be farewelled at a funeral service at St Nicholas Catholic Church on Wednesday.
"I think there will be a massive crowd there," Mr Bath said.
"Graham was a champion on and off the field and I'm sure will get the send off he deserves."