Joel Dark went to footy on the weekend and never came home.
A family grieving. A club hurting. A competition pausing. And rugby league communities from Newcastle, Old Bar and Sydney in mourning.
Tributes have flowed for the 19-year-old, who died at John Hunter Hospital on Friday morning after collapsing on the field during Sunday's Newcastle Rugby League match between Central and Wests at St John Oval.
It is believed the front-rower had a seizure following a head knock midway through the second half of his first-grade debut for Central.
He had remained in a critical condition during the week and undergone multiple brain surgeries.
Hunter New England Health confirmed "the tragic passing of Joel Dark" on Friday afternoon.
"It's just tragic," Central's club president Heath Anderson told the Newcastle Herald.
Butcher Boys players, officials and supporters "rallied around each other" at Charlestown on Friday night, remembering Dark as "a fantastic footballer, but more importantly just a great kid".
"It was unbelievable. He'd been at Central since the start of the year, but it was just like he'd been part of it forever," Anderson said.
"He was just that sort of kid. He got on with everyone and everyone connected with him. He was a fantastic footballer, but more importantly just a great kid from a great family.
"We've lost one of our own. He's a Butcher Boy for life and won't be forgotten."
Flowers were left on the fence outside the club's ground, where the incident occurred five days earlier, and accompanied by a simple message: "#allforjoel xoxo".
Wyong Roos player Jaron Purcell feels this was the "right call".
Purcell and Dark were both part of the Knights under-16 squad that made the statewide Harold Matthews Cup grand final in 2016, describing his former teammate as an "all-round good bloke".
"On the field he was a good footballer. Tough, got through his work and did his job," Purcell told the Newcastle Herald.
"Off the field he was the best bloke ever. Nice, bubbly and always happy."
Purcell recalls Dark travelling back and forth to training sessions in the Hunter region from the Mid North Coast.
Dark attended high school at St Clare's in Taree and hails from the nearby coastal town of Old Bar, where he played juniors for the Pirates and went onto represent the Group 3 senior side.
"Old Bar Beach Pirates RLFC are mourning the tragic loss of local junior Joel "Squid" Dark," the club posted on social media.
"We send our sincerest love and support to Joel's family. As a club and community we are truly heartbroken and devastated with the loss of Joel.
"Joel has touched everyone he has been around and his legacy will be with us forever. Darrin, Narelle, Kurtis and family we are here for you and love you all very much. A Pirate for life!"
Knights general manager of football and former NRL, NSW and Australian representative Danny Buderus, who was born and raised in Taree, issued a statement for the club on Friday.
"We are a club with a heavy heart at the news of Joel's passing," Buderus said.
"The Dark family have many friends throughout our team and town, and we are standing alongside them today mourning this unimaginable loss.
"I know the family will get all the support they need from the tight knit community of Old Bar in the days and weeks ahead, along with the entire game as we unite in this tragic loss."
Saturday sees the Knights up against the Roosters, where Dark's cousin Boyd Cordner is the skipper.
The Blues and Kangaroos leader, who took part in Friday's captain's run at the SCG, was this week given exemption to leave the club's coronavirus 'bubble' and visit Dark in hospital.
The Roosters are set to wear black armbands and both teams plan to observe a minute's silence before the NRL clash kicks off.
Via a NSWRL statement, the Dark family "expressed their gratitude" to the Central club, John Hunter Hospital staff and "all those who have assisted and supported the family during this time".
A GoFundMe cmapign set up earlier this week has raised over $105,000.
Dark would have turned 20 this Sunday.