AFL community mourns the passing of all time great Ron Barassi

Sep 17, 2023
The AFL community, together with devoted fans and high-profile figures, united to reflect on and celebrate Barassi's indelible sporting legacy and pay tribute to "a true legend of football". Source: Getty Images.

The AFL community is united in grief today as it mourns the loss of the legendary Ron Barassi, who passed away at the age of 87.

The family of the Australian Football Hall of Fame Legend broke the news of his passing via a statement on Saturday, September 16.

“After a full and extraordinary life, Ronald Dale Barassi, aged 87, left us today due to complications from a fall,” the statement read.

“He died peacefully, surrounded by loving family.

“We ask for privacy at this time.”

Regarded as one of the all-time greats in the sport’s history, Barassi holds the distinction of being the first player inducted as a “Legend” into the Australian Football Hall of Fame. He is also one of only four Australian rules footballers to achieve this honour in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

Barassi’s AFL journey began after his father, Ron Barassi Sr., a Melbourne Football Club player, tragically died in World War II when Barassi was just five years old. Determined to honour his father’s legacy, Barassi joined the Melbourne club, leading to the creation of the father–son rule, which is still in use in the AFL today.

He lived with Norm Smith, Melbourne’s coach and a former teammate of his father, who mentored him. Under Smith’s guidance, Barassi played a pivotal role in revolutionising the ruck rover position and contributed to six premiership-winning teams, captaining two of them.

In 1964, Barassi left Melbourne for a lucrative contract with Carlton. He retired from playing in 1969 but went on to coach Carlton to two premierships. One of his most memorable moments came in 1970 when he led Carlton to an incredible grand final comeback in front of the largest football crowd in history. In 1971, he returned to coaching, first with North Melbourne and later with Melbourne and the Sydney Swans, helping rebuild these clubs as competitive forces in the league.

Barassi’s coaching career was both successful and groundbreaking. His passion for the game, along with his advocacy for a national club-level competition, made him a revered figure in Australian culture. He received numerous accolades, including being named a Member of the Order of Australia in 1978 and earning a spot in the AFL’s Team of the Century as a ruck-rover in 1996.

As news broke of his passing, the AFL community, together with devoted fans and high-profile figures, united to reflect on and celebrate Barassi’s incredible sporting legacy and pay tribute to “a true legend of football”.

Barassi is survived by wife his Cherryl and three children Susan, Richard and Ron

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