Tom Hafey... one of the greats of AFL.
Tom Hafey... one of the greats of AFL.

Tommy was a Tigers legend to a ‘T’

AFL: Richmond was yesterday planning how best to pay tribute to its greatest ever coach, Tom Hafey, when the Tigers take on Melbourne at the MCG on Saturday.

Most apt might be to have the players run out wearing skin-tight black and yellow t-shirts in honour of the man fondly remembered as T-Shirt Tommy.

Hafey's fitness regime, and showing off his incredible physique even in his later years, was renowned and inspirational.

Up until recently he was still starting each day with 200 push-ups and 600 sit-ups - with a 8-10km run in between.

Hafey lost his battle with cancer on Monday night, aged 82, leaving behind wife Maureen and daughters Rhonda, Karen and Jo.

Richmond chief executive Brendan Gale revealed yesterday he had visited Hafey (pictured) in hospital last week, with coach Damien Hardwick and captain Trent Cotchin among others.

"I don't think he liked being laid up," he said. "(But) for us, being there was absolutely about saying thank you for contributing to the great club this is."

After playing 67 games for the Tigers between 1953 and 1958, Hafey went on to coach them to four premierships - in 1967, 1969, 1973 and 1974.

"What stood out to me the most about Tommy was the extent to which he really cared about people," Gale said. "To many players Tommy was like a father."

Hafey coached a total of 522 games, including 138 with Collingwood (1977-82), 66 with Geelong (1983-85) and 70 with Sydney (1986-88). Only Jock McHale (714), Kevin Sheedy (635), Mick Malthouse (662) and Allan Jeans (575) has coached more.