The AFL has remembered Ken Judge as a skilled player who helped take Hawthorn to greatness and a shrewd coach with a hard edge.
But above all else, he was mourned widely on Friday as a great bloke.
The player, coach and commentator died on his 58th birthday after a long battle with myeloma, a rare cancer.
Originally from East Fremantle, he was a member of Hawthorn’s 1983 premiership team in his debut AFL season.
Judge also won the Hawks’ best first-year player that year.
He then played in Hawthorn’s 1984-85 losing grand final teams.
Judge, a skilled half-forward flanker, played 89 senior games for Hawthorn and Brisbane before returning to WA after 1988.
He turned to coaching and had immediate success, with East Fremantle winning the 1992 and ’94 premierships.
Judge then was an assistant at Carlton under David Parkin as the Blues won the 1995 AFL flag.
He coached Hawthorn from 1996-99 and his debut season featured a finals appearance, despite the Hawks being in turmoil because of the failed merger proposal with Melbourne.
Judge also coached West Coast from 2000-01, another tough assignment given he took over from Mick Malthouse.
He stayed involved in the game as an ABC radio commentator and was part of the team that called last year’s grand final.
Hawks teammates Robert DiPierdomenico and Terry Wallace remembered Judge as a skilled teammate and someone who thought deeply about the game.
“He had a wicked sense of humour but, when he delivered the ball, you knew exactly where to go and he would hit you on the chest,” DiPierdomenico told SEN radio.
Wallace also noted that Judge was one of the keys to Hawthorn becoming a premiership team.
“He was the finishing touches to us,” Wallace said.
“We made a preliminary final in 1982, we were ready to take the next step and he had a terrific year in ’83 and was able to be part of that premiership team.”
Former Hawks teammate Peter Schwab paid tribute on Twitter.
“Ken (Judgey) it was a pleasure to play with you and coach with you but the greatest pleasure was our friendship – you will be so missed,” Schwab said.
Parkin and Blues great Stephen Kernahan, who captained the ’95 premiership team, said Judge made a big impact in his season at Carlton.
“Ken was a ferocious competitor … he was the agent provocateur through 1995,” Parkin told the club website.
“We had a fair few ‘yes men’ around the place but Ken was never a yes man. He always had an edge.”
Kernahan said an ill Judge was a popular figure at last year’s 20-year premiership reunion.
“The bottom line was that Ken was a really good bloke. His loss is just shattering,” Kernahan said.
Judge is survived by wife Annette and their three sons.