SINCE its inception in 1963, Pirates Rugby Club has modelled itself around one motto, finis coronat opus, which translated means 'the end crowns the work'.
No member in the club's history embodies this saying better than the late Graham Yeo.
The Pirates life member and former Tamworth Rabobank director died on February 3 after an-eight year battle with motor neurone disease (MND).
The man better known to most as Yeoie left a legacy that will live long in the minds of those who knew him.
Daryl Bath and Gordon Barbara were his two mates who knew him best, they reflected on the man who helped make one of Central North Rugby Union's most powerful clubs what it is today.
The early days
"Graham being a valuer at the bank he was a really organised person, which is exactly what the club needed when he arrived in 1977," Mr Barbara said.
"It's as the old saying goes; 'if you want something done ask a busy person' and that was so true of Graham.
"If the committee came up with an idea, he was the one to follow it through, he was a dog with a bone and ensured it got done.
"He was a very organised person, to the point that where any of his friends would visit him at the bank, they would rearrange his desk to get a rise out of him.
"Sure enough though, every time one of us did it, he would have a laugh and move everything back to exactly where it was.
"Graham had an amazing ability to laugh at himself and it's those little things that really stand out."
In the mid 1980s, Pirates was beginning a new era. It centred around creating a family environment for its members.
"When myself, Graham and Daryl all came to the club, we all had young families and the new family culture organically grew over time," Mr Barbara said.
"We all had the same goal, which was just to make sure the club survived.
"I think when Graham came on board as the club treasurer in 1994 or 1995, we had about $6.50 in the bank."
Mr Bath said Mr Yeo was pivotal in keeping the club going during those tumultuous years.
"We used to have to go and sell raffle tickets at the Tudor on a Friday night to ensure we had enough money to keep the club going for another week," Mr Bath said.
"I think every club has its lean times, but certainly the foundation for Pirates being one of the most successful clubs in the modern era was laid by guys such as Graham, Gordan and Pip McCann."
While in the process of becoming a "family club", Mr Barbara said there was still "a cavalier attitude" among the playing group.
"Things have changed a lot since then, but in those days, if guys wanted to go out and have a beer on a Friday night before the game they'd do it," he said.
"Come Saturday morning, the team would be short of players and it was up to us to go into the local haunts and bring them out.
"Everyone always had a wonderful spirit of mateship and I think that is still very prevalent today.
"Graham like all of us had a young family at the time and was a real driver of trying to make it a family club, whether that was his goal or not, he wanted to make it more inclusive."
Glory in 1985
It took the club 22 years, but on a spring day in 1985, Pirates defied all odds to travel to Moree and win their maiden first-grade premiership.
It was a result Mr Barbara rated as one of the best in the club's history.
"There were a lot people behind the scenes who had put in a lot work in the years leading up to that win, who really deserved to celebrate," he said.
"It was a really terrific payoff for guys like Daryl, Graham and Pip, who put in so much work in those early years."
Juniors revolution and a new home
Mr Barbara said one of Mr Yeo's most memorable accomplishments with the club was helping shape its first junior premiership team in 1996, captained by his son Andrew.
The club's junior ranks had not always been successful, having struggled for many years beforehand.
"Graham and myself worked pretty hard getting into all of the schools around Tamworth to recruit wherever we could," Mr Barbara said.
"It was touch and go at times, but that hard worked really paid off with that first premiership.
"I know that win meant a lot to Graham because Andrew played in it and it was the culmination of a lot of hard work."
The inaugural juniors premiership proved to be a turning point for the club, which found its new home at Ken Chillingworth Oval in the following years.
Mr Bath said Graham was key to making that happen.
"He had a very common-sense approach to things and really helped push moving to a permanent home, because before that we played in several different places," he said.
"I think he understood the need for us to establish ourselves at Ken Chillingworth Oval and it really helped the club cement itself for the future.
"Who knows where it would have ended up without that move and without Graham."
Hundreds attended a memorial service at St Nicholas Catholic Church on Wednesday to pay their respects to a figure Mr Barbara described as "a man of the people".
"I think Graham would have hated to be referred to as a legend," he said.
"I think he would have preferred to be thought of as a man of the people and he always wanted to be one of them.
"However, he would be proud of the high regard in which he is held by so many of us."
"He was a champion of the cause to help raise awareness for MND," Mr Barbara said.
"One thing that has been discussed has been reviving the Graham Yeo Shield rugby game.
"I'm confident we can make that happen for his wife Helen and his two kids, because Graham will be so sorely missed, and it would be the perfect way to remember him.
"We're not afraid to put the work into it because as Graham showed us all, the end crowns the work."