Legendary AFL coach Tom Hafey dies
The AFL community is mourning the loss of four-time Richmond premiership coach Tom Hafey who has passed away aged 82. Nine news.PT0M0S 620 349
Footballers young and old have hailed the on-field and off-field impact of legendary playing and coaching figure Tom Hafey, following his death on Monday.
Hafey protege Kevin Bartlett was clearly emotional when opening his SEN morning program with a tribute to his close friend, who was godfather to one of his daughters.
Tom Hafey with Camperdown St Patricks primary school kids Jasmine Hickey and Charlie Darcy. Photo: Damian White
"I have to be honest, it's not an easy show to do today.
"I and many others lost a great friend and mentor with the passing of Tom Hafey."
"Tom was an inspiration to me and my family.
The legendary life of Tom Hafey
The football world mourns the loss of coaching great Tom Hafey. The Age presents past and recent images of the AFL legend's sporting life. He died at 82. Photo: The AGE ARCHIVE
"Tom is a legendary coach, his record is known to everyone who has followed the game.
"Loved by all who had the privilege of playing under him and working with him.
"He loved his players, as they loved him, and at Richmond, there was no greater honour than to be one of 'Hafey's heroes' during the golden era of the Richmond football club."
Tom Hafey in the changerooms prior to a VFL match in Melbourne. Photo: Getty Images
Carlton coach Mick Malthouse spoke about the influence of Hafey shortly after his team's win over St Kilda on Monday night at Etihad Stadium.
"Tommy coached me for half a season but that half a season established a bond that was alive and well up until this afternoon," Malthouse said.
"You get blessed when your first two coaches are the late Allan Jeans and now the late Tom Hafey.
"He was an amazing man.
"Not only a great coach, but a great teacher of men and boys.'
Malthouse said such mentors teach a player as much about life as football.
"And I think that's the secret to it. They're not just football coaches."
Coaching behemoth Kevin Sheedy, a premiership player at the Tigers, paid tribute on Twitter following the announcement the 82-year-old had succumbed to cancer.
"Tommy Hafey was one of the most inspirational people you will ever meet - not just for Richmond FC but the many people he crossed paths with," Sheedy wrote.
Richmond's CEO Brendan Gale, a former Tiger player, lamented the less of “a club giant”.
“Tommy means so much to the Richmond Football Club. He has had an enormous influence on so many people connected with the Club.
“His coaching achievements at Tigerland are legendary, and he was a constant source of inspiration to the Yellow and Black.
Richmond great Barry Richardson told SEN radio that Hafey would be remembered for his enthusiasm and lust for life, but for insiders, it was the coach's loyalty which stood out. He said Hafey held a lunch every year at the London Tavern in Richmond for all the players he had coached, whether they were premiership-winning superstars or had played one game. He admitted Hafey was a hard act to follow as Tiger coach, because Hafey had forged such close relationships with great players like Kevin Bartlett and Kevin Sheedy.
Former Collingwood captain Ray Shaw told SEN on Tuesday morning that Hafey "rescued" the famous club in 1977.
Shaw said Hafey put the club "back on the map" after a "horror" 1976, when the Magpies 'won' the wooden spoon for the first time in their history.
"He was a father to all the boys... we were a like a local club, with no superstars...Tommy united all of us."
Shaw said on pre-season training runs, Hafey was at the front of the pack "leading the way".
"We got our inspiration from him."
Hafey communicated with every player on the list.
"He was always there for everyone... we played for him."
Shaw admitted Hafey was a hard taskmaster, with match practice each week at training in sessions that lasted more than two hours.
"He was tough. He wanted everyone to be fit."
He said Hafey couldn't guarantee the team would be the best in the league, but it could be the fittest.
"In 1976 we were just about gone, we were about to fold. In 1977 we were on top of the ladder at the end of the year. It was the same players, the same club."
Richmond premiership ruckman Michael Green said Hafey was a "do as I do" person.
"He cared about us first as people not footballers," Green said on Tuesday.
"His genuine care and concern for people lasted until his dying breath... that's what made him a great coach."
Green said that when he played, he never trained as hard as Hafey, or beat him in a distance run. He said Hafey's public example, training on the beach each morning until recently, proved an inspiration to many people outside football.
"Here's a person living what he believes..."
Retired Tiger and 3AW football pundit Graeme Bond paid tribute to Hafey's influence during his tenure at the helm at Tigerland.
"So sad to hear of the passing of one of the true greats. RIP Tommy Hafey, my role model since I was 16. I owe him so much," Bond said.
Collingwood president, Eddie McGuire, described Hafey’s passing, at the age of 82, as the felling of a giant of the game.
“It wasn’t simply the incredible success he enjoyed as a coach that stood him apart from so many. It was what he stood for,” McGuire said.
Sydney Swans CEO Andrew Ireland said that Hafey made an important contribution to the club.
“Tom will be remembered as one of the greatest coaches in AFL history, and while at the helm for three seasons, he certainly made his mark at the Swans at an important time,” he said.
Former Richmond player Matthew Richardson spoke of Hafer’s dedication to his career and to the football players he coached.
“Tommy took a great interest in his player’s lives outside of footy,” Richardson said on radio station 3AW on Tuesday morning.
“We all couldn't believe when we heard that Tommy was ill, and now that he's actually passed away, it’s unbelievable to think that he’s gone.
“He’s such an icon to the Richmond football club.”
Richardson said he would always remember Hafey’s standard greeting.
“You’d go: ‘How’s it going, Tommy’?”
“And he’d always say: ‘Sensational and getting better.”
Tributes from other clubs continued to pour in on Tuesday, with Geelong’s CEO Brian Cook calling Hafey “a man of fine character who made an indelible mark on Australian football”.
“Tom's record speaks for itself," Cook said.
"I know from talking to those around the club during his time as coach that he left a positive impression during his time at Geelong.
Flamboyant forward Warwick Capper recently said one of the hardest aspects of defecting from Sydney to Brisbane in the late 1980s, because of a bumper contract offer, was breaking the news to Hafey, who had been a staunch supporter of his.
"RIP Tommy Hafey. You were my mentor friend and coach. I will miss our chats and good laughs. So sad. Wizz," Capper said.
Both Madden brothers, Simon and Justin, lamented his death. Simon Madden said he was "an absolute legend", while younger brother and Victorian parliamentarian Justin praised the fitness fanatic as "a great Victorian, footy legend and inspiration to keep fit active strong". Both passed on condolences to his widow, Maureen, and the rest of his family.
Essendon premiership player Gary O'Donnell took to Twitter to laud Hafey as "a man among men, a leader among leaders, a legend among legends".
Current Tigers also expressed their appreciation for Hafey's influence, both on them personally and on the club as a whole.
"So sad to hear that the great Tommy Hafey has passed away. Thoughts and wishes are with his family. His life morals will live on. #riptommy," Richmond captain Trent Cotchin tweeted.
Cotchin's deputy, Brett Deledio, lamented the footballing community had lost "one of our great", and praised him for having "such a positive take on life".
Defender Troy Chaplin is in only in his second season at the Tigers, but was nevertheless moved by Hafey's influence.
"Vale Tommy Hafey. Leaving a legacy is what you aspire to do. Tommy left one that will live on through the ages and one instrumental in RFC history," Chaplin said.
The tributes for Hafey was not confined to Richmond players. Adelaide's Josh Jenkins declared he "can still recall the energy that was in the room when Tom Hafey spoke to the students at Swan Hill College - lived life to the fullest".
Richmond led the tributes to Hafey, but was followed by many other clubs that joined in the praise of Hafey, as did the AFL.
"Tom Hafey built teams and clubs to be successful, guided young men to be successful both on the ground and off their ground in their lives and, above all, simply loved our game," departing AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said.
"Through each of his stints at four clubs, Tom championed fitness, teamwork, morale and dedication, and lived those ideals to the fullest with his personal creed of five Ds that 'Desire plus Dedication plus Discipline plus Determination equals your Destination'."
Demetriou hailed Hafey as "a loyal and trusted friend to thousands across our game, who are feeling his loss deeply today".
Essendon great Tim Watson said that Hafey was "larger than life... he had that real charisma about him" which drew people to the coach all his life.
AFL Player's Association Acting Chief Executive Officer Ian Prendergast said the response from players, past and present, via social media showed the legacy Hafey leaves on all generations of footballers.
Read the messages from players via social media
"Whether they knew him directly or only met him once, every player seems to have their own unique story of how Tommy Hafey influenced their lives,” said Prendergast.
"We have players who are not even 20 who are devastated by the loss, because Tommy stood for more than just how to approach football, he represented strong values and discipline and for many was an aspirational figure about how to approach life."
AFLPA Alumni Manager Brad Fisher
"He was a legend amongst our past player group and many have shared their memories of him today in what is a fitting tribute to a man who stood for everything we try to instil in not just our current players but our society," said Fisher.
"For many of our past players he represented more than just a teammate or a coach, he was a brother, a father and a mentor and someone they aspired to be like – he will be sadly missed."
- with Will Brodie, Caroline Zielinski, Daniel Cherny