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AFL Legend Tom Hafey dies at 82

Expert
12th May, 2014
8

Tom Hafey was born a Tiger, and yesterday died a Tiger, aged 82.

A legend in VFL/AFL football, Tommy was one very special bloke. But his staggering stats don’t tell the whole story.

* He coached 522 games, winning 336 for a 64.75 per cent success rate.
* Coached Richmond from 1966-76, Collingwood 1977-82, Geelong 1983-85, and the Swans from 1986 to 1988.
* Mentored his clubs into 10 grand finals, winning four with the Richmond Tigers in 1967, 1969, 1973, and 1974.
* Coached his various clubs to 42 finals
* And was the inaugural inductee into the AFL Hall of Fame.

Tommy coached his beloved Richmond to four flags, coached Collingwood from last to first in one season, and Sydney to two finals in two seasons after they had been in two finals over 40 years.

It was his sojourn at the Swans from 1986 to 1988 that I got to know “T-shirt Tommy”, a life-long tee-totaller who only drank tea.

The Swans were struggling to make any impact on the Sydney football scene. Tom changed all that by endearing himself to the local fans of any description, and coaching Warwick Capper to great heights.

The Swans became a talking point around the harbour city by playing spectacular and entertaining football, consistently chalking up 200-plus points a game.

Perhaps an AFL historian can tell me the last time any team posted 200 points?

And Capper was the on-field goal-kicking golden-haired boy..

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Off the field, Tommy was tireless making the Swans better known and better understood. And once Sydneysiders learned more about Tommy Hafey they warmed to a warm man

He never asked any player to do what he didn’t do. He would arise around 5.30 every morning, seven days a week to go for a run in rain, hail or shine. He was the fittest man I’ve ever known.

Whenever I asked Tommy how he was, the answer was always the same -‘Sensational, and getting better”.

And towards the end of the week of every home game, Tommy would invite a couple of the opposition-to-be and people from all walks of life to the Bourbon and Beefsteak at Kings Cross for a luncheon he hosted with his switched-on manager Ron Thomas, who also played a big role in “selling” the Swans.

I was at 2KY at the time, and rarely gave the Swans a thought. Tommy and Ron changed all that.

They were a very successful combination, being in their company was outstanding.

Sadly, the fabulous Tommy Hafey story has ended.

But like Reg Gasnier yesterday, both will always be remembered for their outstanding contributions to their codes.

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Icons both.