Teammates of Shane Tuck have paid tribute to their ‘tough’ and ‘loyal’ mate, who tragically died earlier this week after a lifelong fight with depression.
Five of his closest friends who played alongside him at the Hawthorn Hawks shared some emotional personal stories about what the 38-year-old meant to them.
While the AFL put on its own touching tribute in the form of a minute’s silence before the clash between the Richmond Tigers and the Greater Western Sydney Giants on Friday night.
Shane Tuck, a Life Member of Richmond Football Club and the son of former AFL record holder Michael Tuck, died on Monday.
In a powerful article for the AFL Players website, his former teammates shared their fondest memories of a ‘warrior’ and ‘brother’ who deeply cared for those around him.
Farewell: Shane Tuck walks off with team mates after his final match with the Tigers in 2013. He died aged just 38
Hawthorn great Michael Tuck pictured with his children, Renee (left) Shane (centre) when he was nine years old, and Travis (right)
Midfielder Dan Jackson said the group wrote the article to honour Tuck because friends and family were unable to meet up and share a beer due to the coronavirus pandemic.
‘Unfortunately, with where the world is currently at, we aren’t able to get together to celebrate the life of our mate Tucky,’ he said.
Instead he wrote: ‘Tucky was tough – he was a warrior – but he was also loyal, caring, and genuine. Tucky was our brother – he always had our backs, no matter what.’
Fellow midfielder Nathan Foley recalled just how tough Tuck was on and off the field.
‘In round seven, 2013, in the game against Port Adelaide, Tucky fractured his scapula in the third quarter. He bravely played out that game,’ Foley wrote.
‘Tucky was grimacing as he ran around with his elbow tucked into his stomach to provide some stability to shield him from the pain he was feeling. We ended up winning that game.’
The AFL put on a own touching tribute in the form of a minute’s silence before the clash between the Richmond Tigers and the Greater Western Sydney Giants on Friday night
Grieving players linked arms and took part in a minute’s silence to mourn the loss of Shane Tuck
Flying High: Shane Tuck blasts past Kangaroo Ben Warren in a 2010 clash. He was the son of footy legend Michael Tuck and the brother of Travis Tuck, who also played AFL footy
Shane Tuck, a Life Member of Richmond Football Club, died on Monday. Tuck is pictured with wife Kat ahead of the 2012 Brownlow Medal
Tucky required surgery for his fractured scapula and less than one week after the procedure, Foley was moving house.
‘Tucky turned up that day to help unpack the truck,’ he said.
‘He didn’t try to be tough, he didn’t seek praise for being tough. Tucky was just tough and he knew no different.’
Forward Tyrone Vickery said Tuck had given him inspiring advice that helped him through his career when others were labelling him a ‘list clogger’.
‘Believe in yourself and don’t listen to the outside world,’ Tuck told Vickery.
‘It stuck with me because he wasn’t naturally a super vocal leader, but he was naturally a really genuine caring person,’ Vickery said.
Shane Tuck (pictured) is the son of Hawthorn Football Club record holder Michael Tuck
Former Carlton player Brendan Fevola (left) and Shane Tuck greet each other during the round one AFL match between the Carlton Blues and the Richmond Tigers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2015
Back pocket defender Andrew Collins wrote that Tuck had a way of inspiring those around him.
‘When you look back on your sporting career you never forget the people that truly try to help you succeed, especially when you’re at your most vulnerable at the start of your career, he said.
‘In the heat of battle, in the middle of the MCG, it’s easy enough and not uncommon to just think of yourself, but that wasn’t Tucky.’
A heartbroken Jake King wrote: ‘I love ya brother, you are and always will be a warrior and a brother to me.’
But while Tuck could often be mild-mannered off the field, he was also known to stick up for his mates when he needed to, according to midfielder Brett Deledio.
He recalled his Bucks party at the Shamrock Hotel in Echuca when a drunk trouble-maker began ‘elbowing’ Deledio.
Shane Tuck played 173 games for Richmond between 2004 and 2013 and kicked 74 goals. Tuck is pictured in 2010
Shane Tuck lies on the ground after being knocked out in his bout by Lucas Miller of Australia at The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in 2015. He lost his battle with the black dog of depression on Monday
‘Now I don’t know if Tucky was watching or not, but personally I think he smelt something brewing and before I knew it he was standing right beside Dad, as he was lecturing this other Buck, saying ‘Right we going Block (Dad’s Nickname) or what?’ Deledio said.
‘Tucky was ready to take on the whole pub if one of his mates needed him to.
‘He was as loyal as they come, ran straight, shot straight and was a downright funny bugger, even though he didn’t always know he was. I’ll miss the honesty, the quirkiness, but most of all I’ll just miss the bloody top bloke you were.’
The emotional tributes follow those of his father Michael who urged others battling with mental illness not to suffer alone.
‘A lot of men think they’re all right and they’re actually not, and the best help they can get is telling people actually how bad they are, and not saying, I’m all right, I’m all right.’ He told the Herald Sun.
Shane’s father Michael (pictured) is the Hawthorn Football Club record holder for the most senior games (426), most finals (39), most grand finals (11) and most premierships (7). He is pictured in 2003 with the newly designed Michael Tuck Medal awarded to the best player in the Wizard Cup Grand Final
Michael Tuck holds the premiership trophy after winning the 1989 AFL Grand Final
‘It was a bit like that (with Shane), he kept it all in because he was a tough, strong man… He didn’t mean anything by it, he just couldn’t admit he had a real bad problem.’
His former teammates also pleaded with anyone who suspects any of their mates might be in trouble to reach out.
‘If you can think of someone in your life who may be doing it tough at the moment, please check in with them to see how they’re going,’ Jackson wrote on behalf of the group.
‘You don’t have to solve their problems – just do what Tucky did for each of us – just show them you’re there for them, because everyone needs a mate like Tucky.’
Tuck played 173 games for Richmond between 2004 and 2013 and kicked 74 goals.
For confidential support call Lifeline: 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636.