The following is the foreword to the book, A Tribute to Tommy Hafey, produced by the Tommy Hafey Club for the “Tommy’s Life in Football” event which celebrated Tommy's life in football at a Tommy Hafey Club event attended by over 500 people at the Grand Hyatt in August 2005.
“Tommy Hafey you are a legend”. What an accolade! But when so many use such simple but awe inspiring words to describe another, one knows immediately we are dealing with a very special person.
Thomas Stanley Raymond Hafey was born in Richmond on 5th August 1931. He grew up in East Malvern where he attended Lloyd Street Central School, then Melbourne High School, and went on to play football for the East Malvern Football Club.
A school-mate and life friend describes Tommy as some-one who could do everything – “a terrific footballer, the best drop kick going around but above all, he was a wise kid”.
From his earliest days Tommy was into physical fitness. He’s never smoked nor drank, notwithstanding strenuous efforts and temptations along the way. As one of the Shepparton boys recalls, “all the premierships we won ... and we couldn’t get a beer into you”.
From very early on Tommy was “not just a wise kid but someone you would listen to” and who could exert a positive influence on others lives.
One life time friend ascribes the “turning point in my life” to Tommy.
In later years Tommy’s players would refer to him not only as their football coach and mentor but as their “life coach”. The principles and values he instilled in his players and which won premierships were the same principles and values his players took with them into life after football; loyalty, determination, dedication, discipline, honesty, passion and integrity, but above all respect! If one word characterises Tommy it’s respect, in fact one could say without fear of contradiction that Tommy Hafey epitomises the word respect.
This respect of course worked both ways; Tommy respected his players and they respected him. It created a unique and formidable force which produced premierships, life time bonds of love and loyalty, admiration and respect from opponents. As one great opposition coach observed “doing extra for the coach is a handy card to be able to play and opposing coaches always knew that Tom’s teams would be hard to subdue”.
Tommy’s players knew they had his unswerving loyalty if they gave 100% and that he would always stand by them if they did. This produced reciprocal loyalty which gave Tommy’s teams a unique never say die quality and a crucial edge over their opposition.
“Tommy didn’t ask you to do what he said .. he asked you to do what he did”.
“You would only give him your respect by playing with all the qualities he showed you”.
“Tommy stuck with me and his faith created the scenario where there was no way I was going to let him down”.
“We played for the team and Tommy”.
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