18 January 2023

Peter John McLay fondly remembered in the Riverina

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obituary photo

Peter McLay was a widely respected police officer and talented cricketer. Photo: Supplied.

(Obituary shared via the Museum of the Riverina)

On 1 January, 2023, we not only lost one of our city’s sporting greats, but also a man who contributed incalculably to our region’s wellbeing, Peter John McLay.

Peter was inducted into the Wagga Wagga Sporting Hall of Fame in 2003.

Originally from Coolamon, Peter moved to Wagga Wagga in 1970. While a student at Mt Austin High School, he played cricket with the RSL club team.

In 1984 he moved to Sydney to further his cricket career, joining the Western Suburbs Cricket Club. A year later, he was selected in the NSW U19 side to tour Tasmania. At the Australian championships in Hobart, Peter’s consistent performances as a left-arm orthodox spinner gained him selection into the Australian youth team that toured India and Sri Lanka in late 1985. Peter performed well, equalling the most number of wickets taken on the tour.

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In 1988 and 1989 Peter was selected to play in the Prime Minister’s XI game against the Australian Aboriginal team. In 1989 he toured England with the Australian Police Cricket team. Peter continued to play grade cricket in Sydney and Canberra until 1996, and again toured England with the NSW Police Cricket team.

By 2003 Peter’s involvement in cricket centred on encouraging his two sons, Samuel and Angus, to learn and play the game that he loved so much as a youngster growing up in Wagga Wagga. In 2016, the Museum of the Riverina was honoured to be able to display Peter’s baggy green that was presented to him in 1985 as a member of the Australian U19 Youth XI Tour of India and Sri Lanka.

In 2020 Peter celebrated 33 years in the police force, stationed in Wagga. He spent 13 years as a forensics officer on crime scenes from 1990 to 2003, and the first homicide he investigated in that role was the infamous case of the ”Lakemba Chicken Shop Murder” in 1991.

It was here that Peter first met Bob Noble, who would become Riverina Police District Commander Superintendent, a colleague and a good friend.

Of Peter, Bob said: “If you found yourself the victim of a nasty crime, or involved in a serious car crash … he’s exactly the sort of person you’d like to step up to the scene of the accident and say, ‘I’m here to look after you’. He certainly inspires a sense of safety, strength and comfort, and that alongside empathy, compassion and intelligence really makes for the perfect police officer.”

Peter passed away peacefully at home in Melbourne.

A thanksgiving was held on Tuesday, 10 January, in St John’s Anglican Church before a private cremation.

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