Wimmera mourns Tom Hafey

THE Australian football community is mourning the loss of AFL legend Tom Hafey, who after a short battle with cancer died aged 82 on Monday night.

LEGEND: Tommy Hafey, with Minyip premiership coach and former Collingwood champ Ronnie Wearmouth in 1992.  Tommy with a cuppa, Ronnie with a beer. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

LEGEND: Tommy Hafey, with Minyip premiership coach and former Collingwood champ Ronnie Wearmouth in 1992. Tommy with a cuppa, Ronnie with a beer. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Hafey coached 521 games at four clubs - Richmond, Collingwood, Geelong and Sydney - between 1966 and 1988, after a 67-game playing career with the Tigers in the 1950s.

A regular visitor to the Wimmera, Hafey will leave a lasting legacy.

Minyip community stalwart and Yarriambiack Shire Citizen of the Year Ken 'Dasher' Milgate can remember Hafey and his wife Maureen staying with him more than two decades ago.

"We had a sportsman's night out at Minyip in 1991, and Tommy came up - he went and met the school kids and took the juniors for training too," he said.

Hafey, whose early-morning fitness routine was well-documented, was not deterred by a chilly Wimmera winter morning. 

"I said if you run from my place to the cemetery that would be about right," Milgate said.

"A few days after I thought I'd see how far it was, I think it was about 15 kilometres and he usually did 10 or something like that.

"Then he went for a swim in the dam before heading off to Shepparton.

Tommy Hafey congratulates Mat Albrecht after winning a Wimmera 2020 Young Agri Business Achiever Award in 2006. Hafey was popular in the Wimmera, even spending his 80th birthday in the region at an event. Picture: JEFFREY CHAN

Tommy Hafey congratulates Mat Albrecht after winning a Wimmera 2020 Young Agri Business Achiever Award in 2006. Hafey was popular in the Wimmera, even spending his 80th birthday in the region at an event. Picture: JEFFREY CHAN

"The footprints went out to the water so he must have - it would've been a bit fresh in the dam in the middle of winter."

Former Collingwood player Ronnie Wearmouth, who played under Hafey, coached Minyip for the first time that year.

In the past few years, Hafey continued to make his presence felt around the region.

The four-time Richmond premiership coach was a guest speaker at Horsham District league clubs Noradjuha-Quantong, Taylors Lake and Natimuk.

He celebrated his 80th birthday at Pimpinio's goods and services auction in 2011.

Hafey was also a guest speaker at Kaniva's emergency services fundraiser in 2010, ran a coaching clinic for Horsham RSL Diggers juniors in 2012 and spoke as part of International Men's Health Week in Edenhope last year.

Leave your tributes to Tom Hafey below

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