TOM HAFEY was blessed with the sunniest disposition in football, so it was appropriate the sun was out at his funeral at the MCG on Monday afternoon.
After all, this was a man who when asked how he was would reply without fail: "Sensational and getting better."
People couldn't help wanting to be around Hafey. People from all walks of life.
That was reflected in the eclectic crowd of almost 2000 that filled the ground-level seats of the MCG Members' Reserve during Monday's ceremony.
Fittingly, the majority of those people were decked out in the yellow and black colours of Richmond, the club where Hafey coached all four of his League premierships (1967, '69 and 1973-74).
But there was plenty of black and white in the crowd, with Magpie fans flocking to pay tribute to the man who took them to Grand Finals in four of his six seasons (1977-82) at Victoria Park, but cruelly never tasted premiership success.
You suspect the sight of two tattooed Collingwood supporters proudly wearing singlets would have brought a smile to the face of the man affectionately known as 'T-shirt Tommy'.
You didn't have to look too hard to find the colours of Hafey's other two League clubs, Geelong (1983-85) and the Sydney Swans (1986-88), either.
But this was an occasion that cut across club lines as lovers of the game – young, middle-aged and old – came to pay tribute to one of the most iconic figures in the modern era.
One level above them in the Members' Dining Room, Hafey's coffin sat in front of family and friends. It was draped in a mock Tiger skin, which had a snarl to rival those of the master coach's Richmond teams that dominated the competition in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Atop that, was a framed photo of Hafey in a T-shirt.
Tom Hafey's coffin sits in front of the four premiership cups the great coach helped win. Picture: AFL Media
But this was an occasion to celebrate Hafey the man as much as Hafey the coach.
Hafey's brother Peter, his daughters Rhonda, Karen and Joanne, and grandchildren Jackson, Tom, Kate, Max, Samantha and Jamie all shared touching insights of the Hafey they knew.
Peter spoke of a brother who was his role model growing up and who took him everywhere, from the beach to the footy to boxing, but who drew the line at letting him tag along when he was "chasing the girls".
Peter spoke of a brother who loved helping people, from school children to university students and prisoners - a brother who hated swearing and who loved telling a joke, even if he could never quite deliver a punchline.
In a joint speech, Hafey's daughters said Hafey was the same person inside the family home as he was in public – enthusiastic, positive, passionate and, sometimes, demanding.
Hafey's eldest grandsons, Jackson and Tom, lovingly spoke of their Pa and how he never put any pressure on them to continue the family football tradition, contenting himself simply with the fact they were fit and healthy.
They also spoke in awe of their grandfather's boundless energy and how he could keep up with them whatever they were doing, even if that meant he suffered the odd shoulder and calf muscle injury.
Tom – and most of the other speakers – told of his grandfather's fondness for displaying his bare chest, recounting a time Hafey had picked him up from school without a top on.
Fortunately for Tom, his friends saw the lighter side, telling him his Pa was the only grandfather who could pull that look off.
Richmond players gather to pay their respects at Monday's funeral. Picture: AFL Media
Hafey's great mate Kevin Bartlett was the final speaker and fondly recounted some of his former coach's favourite sayings:
· If you want loyalty, get a dog.
· You'd run faster if chased by a crocodile.
· He's so slow he couldn't catch Humphrey B. Bear.
Bartlett also recounted Hafey's first game at the helm of the Tigers in 1967. As the 19th man that day, Bartlett was sitting on the bench alongside his new coach and took the opportunity to tell him he "didn't have a clue" if he didn't start the best rover in the competition on the ground.
Hafey simply ignored Bartlett and dropped him the following week.
Bartlett said Hafey had laid the seeds for the Tigers' golden era the previous summer with the example he set on the training track, beating his players in all of their running sessions.
"Everyone at the club thought, 'How good is this?' because all of a sudden you had this coach who turned up and he's beating everyone around the Tan and he's beating everyone in the 400s and he's beating everyone in the 200s," Bartlett said.
"It was quite remarkable and the legend was made."
Kevin Bartlett was a lifelong friend of Hafey and spoke of their relationship at the funeral. Picture: AFL Media
At the end of Hafey's daughters' speech they passed on a simple message from their mother and Hafey's wife, Maureen: "He really did love you all."
It was fitting then that at the end of the ceremony, Maureen led her family, all of Hafey's former players in attendance and Richmond's current playing group on a tribute lap of the MCG in front of his adoring fans.
As Richmond's rousing club song rang out, Richmond legends such as Francis Bourke and Kevin Sheedy walked around the boundary, along with Collingwood greats Tony Shaw, Peter Moore and Peter Daicos, and former Geelong and Sydney Swan champion Greg Williams.
The crowd clapped along with the infectious beat of "We're from Tigerland" as Hafey's hearse emerged to do a lap of the ground.
Earlier, funeral MC Eddie McGuire had said football was Hafey's religion, making the MCG the appropriate place to celebrate his amazing life.
As Hafey's hearse left the ground, the crowd said its final goodbyes.
The sun was still out, but on a Melbourne autumn day would not be for long.
People's memories of Hafey will be far more enduring.
Goodbye, Tommy. Picture: AFL Media