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State funeral offer for Lou Richards

Football

The family of AFL great Lou Richards is considering an offer from the Victorian government to hold a state funeral for him.

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Richards died yesterday aged 94 after a long and celebrated career as a player and media figure.

A spokesman for Premier Daniel Andrews said the offer of the state funeral had been made to Richards’ family, and his daughter Nicole Morrison said the family was talking about it.

“I think dad would be really proud to think that someone from Collingwood, who grew up in Collingwood and lived most of his life in Abbotsford, would be offered a state funeral,” Morrison told 3AW.

“I think that would be a great honour. I’m really thankful to the premier for offering that to us, we’re very, very proud of that.”

Richards captained Collingwood’s 1953 premiership side before becoming one of the AFL’s most beloved figures in print and television.

Morrison said the outpouring of support after her father’s death had been lovely.

“(We’ve seen) how much he is loved by people in Melbourne particularly, and throughout Victoria, and I think that in itself is a memorial to dad,” she said.

Richards was a cult figure for the black-and-white faithful, but the reaction to his death showed just how much his popularity transcended his suburban Collingwood roots.

Richards played 250 games for the Magpies from 1941-55 and captained the club to the 1953 premiership.

After retirement he forged a hugely successful media career on television and radio and in print, playing a ground-breaking role in the sports entertainment industry in Australia.

“No man has done more for our game than Lou Richards,” said Collingwood president Eddie McGuire.

“He was a quintessential Collingwood man who spoke to the entire football world.

“Born in the shadows of Victoria Park, with three generations of family tradition behind him that involved 930 games and eight premierships in the black and white.

“But Lou, and everyone knew him as Lou, transcended football. He was a pioneer for footballers who entertained.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered his farewell, acknowledging Richards’ broad appeal via Twitter.

AFL chief executive Gill McLachlan remembered Richards as “the original driving force of the media’s expanding interest in our game”.

“Particularly with the emergence of television from the late 1950s, and his time as a host and match-caller for the Seven Network (he) developed a style that has often been copied but never bettered,” McLachlan said in a statement.

“Everyone in our industry, who is fortunate to earn a living around the game we love, has the likes of Lou Richards to thank for his work ethic, his love of the game, his willingness to both poke fun at himself and others and his one-off originality.

“As a player, he captained his club to a premiership – an honour that every player would cherish in a heartbeat.”

Richards spent most of his TV career at Channel Seven, working on iconic programs such as League Teams and World of Sport and as a successful match-day commentator.

Richards’ name was also synonymous with the Kiss of Death column in The Sun newspaper.

The 170cm rover was destined to play for Collingwood.

The nephew of club great Alby Pannam, he played with Collingwood Technical School before joining the Magpies in 1940.

He was runner-up in the club’s best and fairest award in 1947 and 1950 and was their leading goalkicker on three occasions.

Richards’ younger brother Ron also carved out a successful career from 1947-56 at Collingwood, playing 143 games and kicking 114 goals.

They were teammates in the 1953 premiership team.

Lou Richards was one of the original inductees into the AFL Hall of Fame in 1996, but was disappointed at never being upgraded to official Legend status.

TRIBUTES FLOW FOR LOU RICHARDS

“Lou’s contribution to Collingwood, to football, to the football media and to the life of this city was monumental. In his inimitable way, he was incomparable.” – Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley.

“He was a trailblazer, a trendsetter. He started it for all of us, there’s no doubt about that.” – former Geelong champion and Channel Nine personality Sam Newman.

“He was a remarkable man, one of the great personalities of the game. What he achieved shouldn’t be undervalued.” – Collingwood premiership captain Tony Shaw.

“So much more than a Collingwood champion. A brilliant entertainer who re-defined the way we watch our game. Vale Lou.” – Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

“He’s left the constant reminder that it is more than just a game (but) he’s left a constant reminder that you can also have some fun with football … it doesn’t have to be so damn serious. I think people respected him for that and I think that’s the legacy he’ll leave.” – Channel Nine newsreader and long-time friend Tony Jones.

-AAP

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