‘Bigger than Texas’: Football icon Lou Richards farewelled

His football tipping skills earned him the moniker the Kiss of Death, but Collingwood legend Lou Richards was on Wednesday remembered for bringing life and joy to those who loved him.

At a state funeral at St Paul's Cathedral, Richards was feted by football luminaries and ordinary fans, many of whom braved the rain to watch the service on the Federation Square big screen.

Richards, who died last week aged 94, played 250 games for Collingwood and was a football media trailblazer after working closely with journalists at his Flinders Street Phoenix hotel.

His daughter Nicole Morrison recalled Richards as a generous and loyal father and friend.

"Arrogance and snobbishness was not tolerated," she said of life at home with her father.

"He was the best captain you could ever have. He was the best captain because he got the best out of his players. He challenged you and nurtured you, he was firm but fair ... he became our best friend once he knew we were ready to make good life choices."

Grandson Ned Morrison said growing up with Lou was an adventure because he taught him "how to have fun".

Collingwood football club president Eddie McGuire thanked the Richards family for sharing their father and grandfather with the community.

"What a family ... think of Lou Richards and his amazing journey from the depression era backstreets of Collingwood to the premiership captain on the MCG. The King of Moomba and the greatest star in the biggest game in town [and] the media."

McGuire spoke at length of Richard's uncompromising on-field style, although Richards claimed to care for his opponents because he put iodine on his boots so they wouldn't get tetanus when he kicked them.

Longtime North Melbourne administrator Ron Joseph said Richards had predicted his funeral would be big and televised.

"Lou was right, he told me his farewell would be bigger than Texas ... 'You're bloody lucky to get this opportunity, no one else would give it to you'." Joseph quoted Lou as saying, adding it would be a state funeral like former prime minister Harold Holt.

"He didn't drown, he took off with a shiela'," Joseph said, quoting Richards.

"It will be a state funeral just like his, and that will give Bob and Jack and Bobby Davis the shits."

Channel Nine sports journalist Tony Jones said Richards was a generous friend and had helped many young broadcasters starting out in their television careers.

"I rarely heard Lou say a bad word about anybody, he'd rather tell me about who he loved," he said, adding Richards' advice that "there's only two things free in life, kid. Fresh air and civiliy".

St Kilda Brownlow medallist and fellow World of Sport panelist Neil Roberts told Channel Seven ahead of the service that Richards was unique in the football world.

"He was a cocky little fella, but underneath he was a very warm human being ... he gave everybody confidence and he did remarkably extraordinary things."

After the service the cortege traveled along Flinders Street to Collingwood's new home on the banks of the Yarra, and past a statue of Richards in his playing heyday.

It may not be old Victoria Park, but with Lou in residence it will always be Collingwood.

This story first appeared in The Age