Collingwood legend and media personality Lou Richards has died at the age of 94.
Richards passed away peacefully on Monday in his nursing home.
He was Collingwood captain from 1952 to 1955, leading the side to a premiership in 1953 and was the leading goalkicker in 1944, 1948 and 1950.
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, a situation that caused a good deal of controversy in football circles.
The former champion cashed in a 250-game career to become a newspaper columnist and radio and television personality like no other.
He was renowned for his witty observations and quick retorts, and in turn had to cop plenty of good-natured ribbing from his media colleagues, who were aware that his confident, even brash “on air” persona belied a vulnerable streak of self-doubt.
Collingwood Football Club has paid tribute, saying Richards and his family would “forever be a part of the Collingwood story”.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said what Richards lacked in height, he made up for in fight.
“Farewell to a legend named Lou,” he tweeted. “A Victorian icon.”
Richards was born in tough surrounds and circumstances in Collingwood.
He played for Collingwood for 15 years, kicking 423 goals. He also wore the Big V in 1947 and 1948.
He broke into the media in 1955 with a job as an expert comments scribe with the now defunct Argus newspaper, and radio commentator with radio 3XY.
Later, he moved to The Sun and radio 3DB, and much later to the Sunday Age; he was part of the Channel Seven team that launched World of Sport in 1958, and League Teams, which became Melbourne sporting institutions for more than two decades.
Richards then moved to Channel Nine and Wide World of Sports and Sports Sunday.
His last regular television spot was handling the somewhat chaotic handball segment on the Sunday Footy Show, from which he retired at the end of 2008.
On each show, his mischievous humour was pivotal to the informed coverage/hilarity/nonsense that perennially rated highly.
On the newspaper side, Richards and his cohorts dreamt up all manner of publicity stunts to keep “Loui the Lip” in the news.
Richards entered the business world early in his media career when he bought the Town Hall pub in North Melbourne.
Later, he took the lease on another watering hole, the Phoenix, which he ran with his wife, Edna.
He never won Collingwood’s best and fairest (Copeland Trophy) award, but several community awards awaited him.
In 1975 he was named Football Personality of the Year; in 1981 he was crowned King of Moomba; and in 1982 the National Trust classified him a living treasure to be protected against demolition. With typical humour, Richards said that when he received the call, he feared he was going to be “certified”.
He was awarded life membership of the VFL but at the end, elevation to football’s Hall of Fame eluded him. Perhaps now that honour will be posthumous.
Edna, Richards’ beloved, devoted and understanding wife of 60 years, who was happy to be the butt of some of his jokes, died in March 2008. He is survived by his daughters Nicole and Kim, five grandchildren, and his brother, Ron.
So much more than a Collingwood champion. A brilliant entertainer who re-defined the way we watch our game. Vale Lou.
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) May 8, 2017
Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the Richards family. Lou, and his family, will forever be a part of the Collingwood story.
— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) May 8, 2017