RONALD Dale Barassi, a legendary figure in the Australian Football League (AFL), passed away on 16 September 2023, leaving behind a legacy that will forever be etched in the annals of Australian football history. Born on 27 February 1936, in Melbourne, Ronald’s passion for the game was evident from a young age, and he went on to become one of the most influential figures in the sport.
Ronald’s football journey began at the Melbourne Football Club, where he made his debut in 1953. Known for his exceptional skills, versatility and leadership qualities, he quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with. Over the course of his 12-year career at Melbourne, Ronald played a pivotal role in the club’s success, helping them secure six premierships in 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960 and 1964. His ability to dominate the field as a midfielder and forward made him a formidable opponent for any team.
In 1965, Ronald made a move to the Carlton Football Club, where he continued to excel both as a player and a leader. His impact on the team was immediate, and he was appointed Captain-Coach in his first season. Under his guidance, Carlton reached new heights, winning premierships in 1968 and 1970. Ronald’s ability to inspire his teammates and lead by example earned him the respect and admiration of players and fans alike.
Ronald’s coaching prowess did not go unnoticed, and in 1981, he was appointed as the inaugural coach of the Sydney Swans Football Club. Tasked with rebuilding a struggling team, Ronald once again proved his ability to turn a club’s fortunes around. Under his guidance, the Swans experienced a resurgence, reaching the finals for the first time in over a decade in 1996. Ronald’s dedication and commitment to the club earned him the title of AFL Coach of the Year in 1996.
Throughout his illustrious career, Ronald was not only a successful player and coach but also a mentor and inspiration to countless individuals. His passion for the game, unwavering determination and ability to bring out the best in his players set him apart as one of the greatest figures in AFL history. Ronald’s impact on the sport extended far beyond the field, as he played a crucial role in shaping the future of Australian football.
Ronald Dale Barassi will be remembered as a true icon of the game, whose contributions to the Melbourne Football Club, Carlton Football Club, North Melbourne Football Club and Sydney Swans Football Club will forever be etched in the hearts of fans. His legacy will continue to inspire generations of players and coaches, ensuring that his name lives on as a symbol of excellence and dedication in Australian football. Ronald’s passing leaves a void in the AFL community, but his spirit and influence will never be forgotten.
“Arguably our game’s greatest name, a giant of Australian Football, who left a legacy at every club whose doors he walked through the doors of, none more so than our own,” Carlton President Luke Sayers said.
“It was late 1964 that Ron donned the Navy Blue, and for the proceeding decades, the Carlton Football Club never looked back.
“The Captain-Coach of our Club for the drought-breaking flag in ‘68, followed by coaching what is considered the greatest victory of them all, the 1970 Grand Final comeback over Collingwood.
“Ron transformed the game and indeed the clubs who were privileged to be graced with his presence.
“How fitting that just last night, two clubs in which he left such an impact should play out a final that typified the toughness, ferocious competitiveness and passion that symbolised so much that was great about Ron.
“On behalf of the entire Carlton Football Club, our most heartfelt condolences go out to the Barassi family and we thank them deeply for allowing us and our game the honour of having the great Ron Barassi as forever part of it.”