Melbourne Storm is deeply saddened by the passing of Tom Hafey.
The legendary AFL coach was a much loved part of the Storm family, religiously attending matches with his grandsons and addressing the players on a number of occasions leading into big matches.
Storm Head Coach, Craig Bellamy, described Hafey’s passing, at the age of 82, as terribly sad and one that would be felt across all Australian sports lovers.
“It is extremely sad to hear of Tommy’s passing. His coaching achievements across four clubs are simply outstanding, for someone with his success he was so humble,” Bellamy said.
“He always spoke with energy and passion, his enthusiasm for footy and life was always infectious and he had a genuine care for other people.
“The biggest message I wanted our players to take away any time Tommy talked to them was about discipline and hard work, that was always at the core of his message.
“Our thoughts are with Tommy’s wife Maureen, their daughters Rhonda, Karen and Joanne, and the extended family.”
Hafey and Bellamy forged a strong friendship, with Bellamy visiting Hafey in hospital a week and a half ago with Football Director Frank Ponissi.
Writing in his weekly Australian newspaper column last weekend, Bellamy described the ‘’amazing 20 minutes” he spent with Hafey, Kevin Bartlett and Peter Keenan just telling footy stories.
Hafey last addressed the Storm players almost 12 months ago. He was called upon by Bellamy after the team had suffered successive losses. His typically inspirational message resonated with the players, they drew with arch rivals Manly that weekend and the following week beat Sydney Roosters who were on a five match winning streak.
“The Club is extremely grateful and humbled that such an AFL icon and legend had so much love and interest for Melbourne Storm, in particular the players.” Bellamy said.
Rest easy Tom Hafey. A legend of the AFL both as a player and a coach. Plus a massive Storm supporter. You will be missed dearly.— Cameron Smith (@camsmith9) May 12, 2014
I’m deeply saddened to hear the passing of a great man in Tommy Hafey. We are all better people for having u in our lives Tom. #RIPmate— Billy Slater (@billyslater) May 12, 2014
RIP Tommy Hafey. A true legend of Australian sport and a much loved member of the #purplepride family— Melbourne Storm (@storm) May 12, 2014