HAWTHORN premiership player and former Hawks and West Coast coach Ken Judge has died after a long battle with cancer. 

He passed away on Friday morning - his 58th birthday.

Originally from East Fremantle, Judge was a half-forward flanker who signed initially with South Melbourne and eventually joined the Hawks.

He capped his first AFL season by playing in the team that thrashed Essendon by a then-record Grand Final margin.

Judge also won the Hawks' best first-year player award that season.

He was also a part of the Hawthorn teams that lost the 1984-85 grand finals to Essendon

After 72 games in four seasons with the Hawks he joined the Brisbane Bears in 1987, playing 17 games across the Bears' inaugural two seasons in the VFL.

Judge returned to East Fremantle and coached the club to WAFL premierships in 1992 and 1994.

He took on the Hawks' senior coaching role in 1996, coaching the club for four seasons before moving back to Perth to coach West Coast in 2000 and 2001. He coached 133 AFL games in total including one final in 1996.

Hawthorn chief executive Stuart Fox said Judge had left a lasting legacy with the Hawks.

"Ken touched the lives of so many people at Hawthorn and in the wider football community," Fox said.

"He had a profound impact on our club and his legacy will live on at Hawthorn.

"The board of directors, management, staff and players of Hawthorn football club wish to extend their sincerest condolences to Ken's wife Annette, sons Jason, Ben and Beau, and his extended family and friends at this sad time."

West Coast CEO Trevor Nisbett paid tribute to Judge on Friday. 

"It is obviously a very difficult time for Ken's family and our thoughts are with Annette, their children and others who are very close to them," he said.

"Ken coached our club at a challenging period in our history, but was a strong contributor in his time here.

"He was also a significant contributor to football in general as a player, coach and commentator."

Judge worked as a commentator, broadcaster and columnist following the end of his coaching career and worked with ABC Grandstand and the West Australian newspaper throughout his illness.

He battled myeloma, a rare bone marrow cancer of the blood plasma cells, and had a relapse in 2012.