Highly-respected Hunter police officer Chief Inspector Anthony Townsend, fondly known as 'Tony' or ‘TT’, was farewelled at McDonald Jones Stadium today.

The 61-year-old passed away last month after a lengthy battle with leukemia.

Tony joined the NSW Police Force in 1983, where he rose through the ranks to Chief Inspector.

In an interview with the Newcastle Herald, PANSW Vice President Ian Allwood said Tony was “just loved” – by The Association’s members and himself.

“We are just devastated by this sad news.

“I think he just encapsulated the core values of what being a police officer is. That’s why people loved him so much.

“His work ethic was second to none. He was a very senior police officer and a true gentleman.”

Vice President Allwood said that Tony was a whip-smart country boy who was proud of his heritage and his contributions to rugby league. 

“He spent his entire service operationally, there’d be many times he’d be working at Maitland and I’d say, ‘Sir, what time are you going home’ and he’d say, 'when the job’s done'.

“He has battled that insidious cancer for quite a few years and leaves behind a very caring and loving family that will be very deeply missed.”

Along with his career in policing, Tony was a foundation hooker for the Newcastle Knights. He took to the field in the Knights’ historic introduction in 1988 against the Parramatta Eels, alongside the likes of legends Tony Butterfield, Sam Stewart, David Boyd and Glenn Miller. ‘TT’ would go on to represent the blue, red and white on another 25 occasions before retiring at the end of 1990. 

“Tough, resilient and one of the nicest blokes you could meet, he epitomised the Knights’ early culture, which set a standard for unparalleled later success,” The NRL Club said in an official statement.

“He didn’t complain, despite his various health battles over many years, he just smiled and got on with life.”

The Dungog-born Townsend made his first-grade debut for the St George Dragons in Round 13, 1985, against the North Sydney Bears at North Sydney Oval – playing seven games that season. He went on to make a further 15 appearances across three seasons before moving closer to home to join the Knights. 

Rest in peace, Tony and thank you for your service. Our thoughts and condolences are with Tony’s family at this time.