Lou Richards has died. The Collingwood legend passed away peacefully in his Melbourne nursing home on Monday afternoon. He was 94.
Richards was universally loved, and that really is saying something given he played for the club all rival fans love to hate.
Richards played 250 VFL games in total and was Collingwood captain from 1952 to 1955, skippering the Magpies to the 1953 flag. But it was after his career that he reached peak popularity, graduating seamlessly to a career in both broadcast and print media.
Richards was resilient, cheeky and quick with a quip, a legacy perhaps of his tough upbringing in a Collingwood family during the Great Depression.
But unlike modern larrikin figures who deliberately seem to court controversy, Lou aimed to entertain. When listening to his commentary, what you heard was Lou being Lou, for the love of football and the love of banter.
Richards was small in stature even in his prime -- at just 170cm and 76 kg. But he was a fearless player and a consistent goalkicker who slotted 423 majors in his career. He was just as fearless in the way he wrote ad talked about footy, setting a tone for footy media larrikins to come like Rex Hunt and Sam Newman of The footy Show.
"He was a trailblazer, a trendsetter. He started it for all of us, there's no doubt about that," Newman said at the 2012 launch of Richards' autobiography Lou: My Wonderful Life.
While Newman continues to attract both fans and his detractors, Richards had only admirers.
"He became synonymous with Australian football and the larrikin streak that often characterises our game," AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said in 2014 on the day a Richards statue was unveiled outside Collingwood's headquarters.
"He never took himself too seriously and revelled in the opportunity to have some fun and to add some colour to the debates of the day.
"Lou has enriched our enjoyment and love of the game in so many ways, over such a long period of time."
Richards' wife Edna died in 2008, aged 87. He is survived by daughters Nicole and Kim, along with five grandchildren.
With his passing, the football world has lost a little of his soul.