THERE was one empty seat at Pepper Stadium on Sunday afternoon in the members section of the western grandstand, right near the players’ tunnel. Bay 17, Row L, Seat 2. Brooke Fretwell had sat there for five years next to her mum and dad. Before she died of brain cancer in the off-season, tragically at just 15 years of age. In the most wonderful gesture, the Panthers retired Brooke’s seat. It is no longer for sale. Every year when her mum Olivia and dad Karl purchase their season tickets they will get one extra. Panthers players visit Brooke Fretwell and her family in hospital. It has a plaque with Brooke’s name. ‘In loving memory of Brooke Maree Fretwell. 6th July 1999 — 4th January 2015. Panthers Fan Forever.’ The Panthers were first made aware of Brooke’s incurable illness in September 2013. The players visited her for 18 months in the oncology ward at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Some days after radiotherapy treatment she was too sick to see them. Other days they brought a beautiful smile to her face. Another day the entire team turned up. They were astounded by her courage and bravery. Brooke passed away on January 4. A devastated Matt Moylan and Dave Simmonds attended the funeral. The members seat dedicated to Brooke. This is a really special story for a number of reasons. As a sports writer you log onto your computer every Monday morning to find an avalanche of emails about what’s happened over the weekend. About referees stuffing up, player misbehaviour, controversy, crowds and cover-ups. On Monday morning my first email was from Joe Verzi, Brooke’s godfather. “Please find attached photos of a wonderful gesture from the Panthers championed by their PR & Communications person Emma Duxbury. “Emma has ridden all of the journey with us and thought this a wonderful way to commemorate the life of one special girl! “I wanted to bring to your attention the actions of a terrific individual doing all the right things for the NRL.” Brooke with her father Karl at a panthers game. It is so heart-warming to know that for every Greg Bird urinating on a police car, or players doing drugs, or bashing bouncers, there are truly some amazing football club staff and players doing such wonderful things behind the scenes. Duxbury was in tears on Sunday when she went to say hello to Brooke’s mum and dad. “The Panthers were such a big part of Brooke’s life,” Emma said, “So we just wanted to do something a little bit special. To let them know we’re always thinking of her. “That this seat will always be hers next to theirs. It’s just beautiful to have a little reminder there and to show the family Brooke was a special part of our lives as well.