Tommy Hafey dedicated his life to football as both a player and a coach

Inspirational Life

His career highlights included 10 grand finals with 4 premierships and one draw, 42 finals appearances,coaching 4 AFL teams and leading the Victorian State team to a 100% success rate over 6 years. He was recognised in many different football related areas including an MBE from the Queen in 1981.

Following the end of his coaching career in 1989, Tommy took on a career as a self-styled “ambassador” for the game and was a strident advocate for physical fitness in the wider society.

An inaugural inductee to the Australian Football Hall of Fame 1996, Hafey was named coach of Richmond’s team of the century in 1998. In 2003, the Tigers set up the Tom Hafey club (a corporate networking group) in his honour.

In July 2011 a book titled The Hafey Years – Reliving a golden era at Tigerland was published. It documents Hafey’s involvement with Richmond as a player, and his run of success as a coach in the 1960s and 1970s. Hafey has resisted having a biography written about him, but author Elliot Cartledge “guesses the 80-year-old supported the project because The Hafey Years is not a biography but a chronicle of an era.”

In AFL Grand Final week in 2011 Hafey was awarded with the Coaching Legend Award by the AFL Coaches Association.

Workout Regimen

Hafey’s passion for fitness lasted right through to a month before he passed away with cancer from a melanoma which was removed 24 years prior: every morning he woke up at 5:20 and went for an 8 km run, followed by 250 push-ups and a swim in Port Phillip Bay. When he got home he did 700 crunches and sit-ups. His New Year resolution in 1972 was “no more biscuits, cakes or lollies”- a resolution he kept to the day he died.


A portrait of Tom Hafey is seen at the entrance during the Tom Hafey funeral service at the MCG, Melbourne on May 19, 2014. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media) (Editors Note: Pool Image. This image is free for editorial use only)

Testimonials for Tommy

  • “Excellent. Tom was very clear with his message at our recent managers’ conference. Success only comes if you are fully committed & disciplined. The message was delivered with enthusiasm reflected by anecdotal evidence. Great delivery, terrific approach, enthusiastic, left an impression.”


    My heartfelt thanks to Tom for making the time to accommodate my request. I felt privileged as Tom welcomed me into his house to sign the book. The 40 minutes conversation we spent discussing matters ranging from family, education, football and relationships in life and his genuine interest in them all is something I will remember and cherish. It is easy to see how this warm and genuine man has inspired so many.

    Roger Grech