Ron Barassi has been one of the most influential people in Australian Rules football, stretching over a 50 year career as player and coach.
Melbourne Football Club lobbied the VFL to implement a father-son rule so that Ron could follow his father’s footsteps as a player.
Melbourne’s coach, Norm Smith, took Ron under his wing. When Ron’s mother moved to Tasmania, he moved in with Norm at the young age of 16; an invaluable opportunity Ron credits as a direct influence on his development as a player and person.
Melbourne dominated the 1950’s and Ron became an essential part of the club’s most successful period. He paved the way for the new style ruck-rover, showing speed, ferocity and will to attack the ball without fear.
Ron was made vice-captain in 1957, becoming captain in 1960. Ron was integral to Melbourne’s six premierships. He was voted Best and Fairest in 1961 and 1964.
Ron joined Carlton after newly appointed president George Harris offered him a lucrative contract to become captain-coach, which he accepted in 1965;
While the decision to join Carlton was a difficult one, it was vindicated by Ron’s success as coach. In 1968, Ron guided Carlton to its first premiership in 21 years.
Carlton’s classic Premiership win against Collingwood followed in 1970 – a miraculous comeback from 44 points down at half time.
In 1973, Ron took the helm at North Melbourne, culminating in the 1975 Premiership; a mere three years after North were wooden spooners.
The dramatic drawn Grand Final in 1977 was another classic, where Ron roused the Roos to triumph over Collingwood.
In 1981 Ron returned to Melbourne, the place where he made his name, and alongside assistant coach Ray Jordon laid the foundation for finals appearances soon after his departure.
In 1993, Ron returned to senior coaching with the Sydney Swans, putting the Swans on the map in a territory that had been a foreign land for Australian Football.