TOMMY Simpson’s “infectious” smile is something his youngest son Terry will never forget.
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Terry and his father’s family and friends are mourning the passing of the Springbank local, who died after a battle with cancer, aged 82.
While those closest to him will have the fondest memories – including his seven children, 26 grandchildren and two great grandchildren - Tommy will always be remembered by football followers through his deeds on the field.
Known as a determined and tenacious winger, Tommy played 126 games for Richmond during a career at the top level between 1956 and 1963.
His highlights in the yellow and black included a best first-year player award, a night premiership victory in 1962 and a runner-up placing in the club best and fairest count of 1959. He also placed third in 1958.
And when his playing days in the VFL came to an end, Tommy remained involved with the Tigers as a recruiting officer during the 1970s and 1980s.
“In his first game, he played on (Collingwood’s) Thorold Merrett, who was a bit of a legend and was playing his 100th game,” Terry said.
“I think the headlines in the paper read ‘100-1 shot paid off’.”
Tommy’s successful football career began and finished with East Ballarat, where he is a great of the club.
He played juniors and seniors with East and is a winger in its team of the century.
Upon his return from the Tigers, Tommy coached the club to a senior premiership and later did the same with North Ballarat.
A former chairman of selectors with the Victorian Country Football League, Tommy’s other passion was harness racing.
His interest in the sport included breeding, training and racing standardbreds with his brothers Jimmy and Laurie.
Terry said he will remember his father as a family man.
“The whole family is just proud of Dad – the way he was and the way he always conducted himself,” he said.
“He was a true gentleman and he always had a big smile. It was infectious and everyone just thought the world of him, really.”
Like many others, Richmond champion Kevin Bartlett was saddened by news of Tommy’s passing, which came shortly after celebrating his 60th wedding anniversary with wife Aileen.
“So sad to hear of the passing of Tommy Simpson a great tiger and a beautiful person. #lifemember#126 games#1956/63. Kb,” he tweeted.
Tommy’s funeral will be held at St Patrick's Cathedral on Friday at 2pm.
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