The son of George Joseph Leahy (1861-1910), and Annie Mary Leahy (1860-1929), née McKenzie, Thomas Joseph Leahy was born at Goodwood, South Australia on 13 January 1888. He married Agnes Shannon on 29 November 1917. They had one daughter, Betty.
Leahy was educated at Christian Brothers College in Wakefield Street, Adelaide. He played school football, as well as for Albert Park in the (Junior) Adelaide and Suburban Youths' Association competition.
As a player, Leahy was highly regarded for his playing ability and his nature. The 6 ft 4 in (193 cm), raw-boned Leahy had an iron constitution and massive hands; he was famous for holding the ball in one hand when preparing to kick. Leahy played 58 games for West Adelaide, 111 for North Adelaide, and 20-31 games for South Australia (depending on which source you read). Known throughout Australia as
‘The Prince of Ruckmen’, Tom Leahy was arguably the most widely celebrated footballer produced in South Australia prior to the onset of the television age. The reasons for his high reputation were legion. In the first place, he possessed all the skills necessary to succeed as a ruckman in the ‘ruck shepherd era’, a time when the primary objective of the second player in a ruck combination (the player who would later metamorphose into the ruck-rover) was to impede and interfere with the opposition’s main ruckman in an effort to prevent him from contesting the knock. Leahy’s strength, intelligence and athleticism enabled him to counter these tactics better probably than anyone.
Despite being the object of unrestrained and often illegal vigour on the part of his opponents, Tom Leahy always maintained a cheerful, unflustered demeanour, and never retaliated. This is not to suggest for a moment that his play lacked aggression; however, his aggression was always controlled, and seldom transcended standards of what was acceptable, both legally and morally.
Tom Leahy retired as a player in April 1922, by which time Norwood was already playing internal trial games in preparation for the season commencing in May. By the end of April he had accepted an offer to coach Norwood.
C Brown October 2022