WARRNAMBOOL Football Netball Club has lost one of its icons with the sudden passing of premiership player Mark 'Tocka' O'Keeffe on Saturday, aged 57.
President of the club's board of management Ray Phillips said the Blues were devastated.
"We're just in total shock," he said.
"I'm not sure how the club is going to cope with it. Tocka has been a major influence at the club in so many ways, whether that be as a player, coach or administrator.
"He was an icon and legend at the club. The news has rocked everyone. His passing is totally unexpected.
"We just feel so sad for his wife Debbie and their children Emma, Tim and Sarah.
"We'll be offering the O'Keeffe family all the support that is needed at this very sad time."
O'Keeffe, who filled the roles as chairman of the Warrnambool Football Netball Club and president of the board, played more than 120 games with the Blues.
He played in the 1988 and 1989 premiership sides under Grant Thomas and was captain-coach when the Blues defeated South Warrnambool in 1992.
He was selected in Warrnambool's team of the 20th century.
He was Terang playing coach when it won the 1995 flag.
O'Keeffe was acknowledged as one of the toughest players in Hampden Football Netball League history.
He revealed in an interview with The Standard in 2001 he played with a broken hand in the Blues' 1992 premiership.
"I broke a bone in my left hand in the game before the grand final," he said at the time.
"I was in the hospital for a few days before the 1992 grand final. They inserted four pins into my left thumb.
"I played without any pain-killing injections. I couldn't pull my boots on before the game. Our manager Peter Carroll put my boots on before the game and tied up the laces.
"I went back into hospital on the Sunday and doctors had trouble locating the four pins. The stainless steel pins had gone right into my hand. Two of the pins were bent when the doctors pulled them out."
Phillips said that story typified O'Keeffe.
"There's plenty of stories about Tocka's fierce competitive nature whether it was in footy, golf, tennis or anything he did," he said.
"The broken hand yarn is legendary. It paints the picture of Tocka. He had a fierce will to win but loved nothing more than having a beer with his mates or opponents after a game."
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