AFL Round 9 – Richmond v Melbourne: Remembering Tom Hafey



1.40pm, Saturday, 17 May




Remembering Tom Hafey


Tommy Hafey’s mum Vera sometimes used to sit at the footy with Margaret Scott and her friends. Vera’s sisters Sophie and Gertie would also help them to cheer their beloved Tigers. It was an era in which large groups of fans, whether they were directly connected to players or not, would sit together with rugs on their laps and tea and coffee in their thermoses.


Grassroots fans mixed with club legends and Margaret remembers one fancy dress party at the club where Tom’s brother, Peter, brought a live goat, complete with hay bales.  Francis Bourke came as a priest.


The Hafey family was popular and well-liked. Tom, who was in the printing trade, also ran a milk bar in Richmond with his wife Maureen. “He was just a lovely person,” Margaret says. “He treated everyone the same. They were just a nice, ordinary family.”


Margaret is at the footy with her son Alan, who used to go to games with Rhonda, one of Tom Hafey’s three daughters. A few seats up are Margaret’s long-time friends Lil Wood, Val Noble, Marj Doherty and June Brown, most of whom are in their 80s.


These strong and independent women have followed their team through thick and thin for more than 60 years. They saw Hafey as a player, coach and person and have never heard anyone say a bad word about him. Ever.


Like the rest of the crowd filing into the MCG bathed in bright autumn sunshine to watch Richmond play Melbourne, all are devastated by the loss of the much-loved four-time premiership coach, taken by cancer the previous Monday.


Tigerland is in mourning.


Lil’s son Bryan Wood is also at the MCG to pay tribute to Hafey, who coached him in two premiership years – 1973 and 1974. There isn’t a dry eye in the house as Wood joins the likes of Kevin Bartlett, Frances Bourke and Rex Hunt on the ground with Richmond and Melbourne players before the game.


Family members including Hafey’s daughters Rhonda, Karen and Joanne carry out Hafey’s four premiership cups – 1967, 1969, 1973 and 1974 – amid a minute’s applause from the 56,960 crowd. You can literally feel the love. It is genuine and real.

It is also a terrific turn-out for these two clubs and the stage is set for a fairytale finish. Richmond has been urged to “do it for Tommy” and coach Damien Hardwick implored his players the previous day to emulate Hafey’s relentless and ruthless style against the Demons.

“We’ve put a special emphasis on that this week and we hope our boys respect him and bring that out in the game,” he’d said. “There are things the players have to find within themselves to do, those qualities of relentless and ruthless.”

But it quickly becomes clear that Ruthless Richmond is still a thing of the past. A much-improve Melbourne under new coach Paul Roos plays with purpose, skill and strength. The Tigers lead by a goal at quarter time, but the Demons soon wrest control thanks to the grit of Nathan Jones and the skill of Jack Watts.


Melbourne wants the ball more, marks stronger and kicks straighter, taking a three point lead into the main break. The Tigers lift in the third quarter but their appalling kicking – 2.8 – keeps them playing catch-up football. Cotchin is kept out of the game and Riewoldt is having little impact.


In a rare highlight, Ben Lennon slots a terrific goal from a tight angle with his first AFL kick after coming on in the third quarter as the sub. Fittingly it is Dustin Martin who passes him the ball, easily Richmond’s best on the day.


Once in front the Demons are never headed, despite the Tigers drawing within less than a kick in the last quarter. The likes of Jones, Tyson, Howe and Pederson have ensured that whenever Richmond gets a sniff it is snuffed out.


It is a well-deserved win by the Demons and their fans are rightly proud. As for Richmond, it’s back to the drawing board after making the finals in 2013. Season 2014 is shot.


Whether they are overwhelmed by the occasion or just not good enough, Richmond Football Club has not done it for Tommy. Some say the emotion of such an emotional week may have led to unrealistic expectations, but that is little consolation to Tiger fans trudging out of the ground.


Without exception, they are completely deflated.


Margaret, Lil, Val, Marj and June are devastated, but will never give up on their boys. They gather their scarves and crocheted rugs, disappointed but ever hopeful that their proud club will return to the glory days it enjoyed under Tom Hafey.


Tigerland is in mourning.



RICHMOND     2.3   4.8   6.16   9.20 (74)                     
MELBOURNE  1.3   4.5   9.6     14.7 (91)             

Lennon 2, Edwards 2, Jackson, Riewoldt, Martin, Lloyd, Cotchin
Melbourne: Watts 3, Tyson 2, Pedersen 2, N. Jones, M. Jones, Riley, Dawes, Viney, Vince, Kennedy-Harris

Martin, Deledio, Jackson, Cotchin, Lennon
Melbourne: N. Jones, Tyson, Howe, Pedersen, Viney, Dawes, Watts

UMPIRES: Fisher, Nicholls, Ryan           CROWD: 56,960 at the MCG
OUR VOTES N. Jones (Melbourne) 3, Tyson (Melbourne)2, Martin (Richmond),1.



Cheryl Critchley
[email protected]




  1. The Wrap. says

    Cheryl, they haven’t done it for The Jumper all season, and when asked to do it for the T-Shirt they failed again. Go to Start. Do not collect any silverware.

  2. Cheryl Critchley says

    It has been a tough year John and I’m once again frustrated and disappointed. Not just for me but for my kids, who have seriously lost interest (not that Ben had any to lose). After toying with the idea all season, Jess last night declared she is now officially a Gold Coast supporter. I am impressing upon her the importance of loyalty and supporting your team when it’s down, but boy is that getting harder and harder. The other annoying thing is that anyone during the who implored the Tigers to “do it for Tommy” was criticised for putting pressure on the team. We should have won regardless yesterday and didn’t.

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Is the reality with Richmonds list that they over achieved last season? they had a good draw and had very few injuries the simple reality they have no ruck depth what so ever , lack genuine class , with the loss of White far greater than any 1 could have imagined it is amazing in losing your quickest player how slow the tigers now look
    Way too many honest battlers . I love your passion , Cheryl

  4. Cheryl Critchley says

    Good observations Malcolm. Our lack of depth has been sorely exposed, that’s for sure. There are also players who did well last year not pulling their weight eg Riewoldt. Cotchin is also being well tagged this year. I’m happy with Martin though – he is playing well and seeing more of the game out than he did in previous years.

  5. Andrew Starkie says


    sympathies on a tough week and for yesterday. I feel for real Tiger fans, you have suffered too much over the years. Hang in there.

  6. Cheryl Critchley says

    Thanks Andrew. The loss of the game means nothing compared to the loss of Tom Hafey, a genuine legend of the game who had time for everyone.
    Also I’ve been alerted to the fact that it wasn’t Maureen on the ground, so hopefully that will be fixed soon – it was another relative with Tom’s daughters.

  7. sean gorman says

    Tough day out on all fronts Cheryl. A sense of occasion can sometimes work against a side, a distraction you might say. Having just seen the highlights of the game and it seems the Dees had two things going for them – a system going forward and desire. Hope the Tiges rebound.

  8. Cheryl Critchley says

    Hi Sean, I think the problem is Richmond were going to lose regardless yesterday. I never felt confident about this game, especially given Melbourne’s improved form. All credit to the Demons for their improvement. As you say, they played much better yesterday and deserved the win.

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