Diehard West Australian cricket fan Michael Earl said he had to check it wasn't April 1st when he heard the devastating news of legendary spin bowler Shane Warne's death, aged just 52.
"That was one of the weirdest nights ever," he said from his home in the Margaret River region.
Mr Earl found himself face-to-face with the man himself in 2014, after a nationwide hunt to track down 'Warney's Biggest Fan', filmed having a huge tantrum in the crowd at the WACA in November, 2001.
The death of a legend:
The major dummy spit occurred when Warne was caught out on the boundary, one run short of his maiden test match century.
Mr Earl was caught on camera, thrashing his floppy hat around in disappointment, his t-shirt bearing the homemade slogan, 'Warney's grouse at cricket'.
Years later, Warne put out a call on Twitter to find the man behind the infamous outburst.
"I'm looking for a fan who took it badly when I got out for 99 in 2001," he wrote.
"I owe him a beer."
A video accompanying the tweet featured the white t-shirt Earl wore at the game.
Mr Earl's phone started ringing off the hook as media outlets and friends scrambled to let him know his hero was looking for him.
"I joined Twitter to see what the commotion was all about," he told the Mail in 2014.
Thrilled to have located the mystery fan, Warne flew Mr Earl and his wife Kym to Melbourne, where they sampled the cricketer's beer, 99 Not Out.
"Shane walked through the door which, to be honest, shook me a bit," Mr Earl said.
"It was actually happening."
He said he ended up thanking Warne for getting out for 99.
"If it hadn't happened, I wouldn't be having a drink with him at that time," he said.
The rest of the trip was a whirlwind for the WA couple, who were treated to prime tickets for a game at MCG, hung out with Warne at his nightclub, Club 23, and attended the international beer awards.
Reflecting on the excitement almost eight years later, Mr Earl said Warne was a great man who went above and beyond his commitments.
"Everyone has their own opinion on the great man; his cricket ability, his off field stuff, his commentary.....basically on everything he did," he said.
"What I will say, is I will treat someone how they treat me.
"We were nobodies when we met up with him and the legends from MOA BEER several years ago.
"He didn't need to do anything post-marketing and promotion, but he did.
He invited us to go out with him that night and was just one of the lads, dealing with drunks who knew his face but not his name - they called him Shaun when asking for a photo, but he obliged regardless."
Mr Earl said Warne was someone people would want in their sports team, in any generation, "even if he was an E-grade hack".
"He is a legendary cricketer, but for us, also just a great bloke."
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