By Brad Mansfield
Clae Webb was a young Ballina bloke who lived and breathed rugby league with a great passion to succeed. His life was tragically cut short on Saturday night after he collapsed while playing the game he loved and died later in hospital.
Clae first started playing rugby league in the under 7s and played all of his junior football for the Ballina Seagulls.
Claes schooling started at St Francis Xavier and he then attended St Johns College Woodlawn in years seven, eight and nine. In year nine he was selected in the NSW Country Under 15s schoolboys team. In year 10, he moved to Sydney to continue his schooling and better his chances of making it at football by attending St Gregorys College in Campbelltown.
In year 10, Claes team made the grand final, but being the great person he was, he instead chose to travel to Cambodia with the school to spend time with under privileged children.
In years 11 and 12, Clae played in the Arrive Alive Cup for St Gregorys and when the competition finished in year 12, he commuted back to Ballina to play football with his mates in the under 18s, reaching the grand final that year.
After completing year 12, Clae took up a position in a stock and station agency out at Cobar. In that year, Clae was seriously injured in a car accident, but that did not deter his passion for rugby league.
The following two years he played for the Balmain Jersey Flegg team. In his second year Clae injured his ankle, requiring an operation.
Training hard and continuing his work and studies as a first year apprentice electrician, Clae returned to football for the Western Suburbs Premier League feeder club The Oaks in Group 6. In that game, Clae was unfortunate enough to break his other ankle.
His determination kept him going and he trained hard in the gym and pool to get back on the field. Clae played his last few games for Erina on the Central Coast in the Jim Beam Cup before his life was so tragically cut short.
During his years in Ballina, Clae also played in and represented touch football. He played in the Lismore Under 23 State Cup side for three or four years, the first at just 15 years of age.
Every chance Clae got he would be on a plane back to Ballina to visit his family and have a beer and a surf with his many mates.
The Board and members of the Ballina Seagulls Rugby League Football Club express their deepest sympathy to Claes family and friends. He will be sadly missed but fondly remembered.
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