Ron Barassi is seen during the 2022 round one match between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs at the MCG, March 16, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

AFL GREAT Ronald Dale Barassi has died, with his family confirming on Saturday the 87-year-old passed away after complications from a recent fall.

Barassi played in six premierships with Melbourne before coaching Carlton to two flags, the first as a playing coach, then leading North Melbourne to its first two premierships in 1975 and '77.

He also coached 59 games at Sydney from 1993 to 1995.

"After a full and extraordinary life, Ronald Dale Barassi, aged 87, left us today due to complications from a fall," the family said in a statement.

"He died peacefully, surrounded by loving family. We ask for privacy at this time."

Barassi played 204 games for Melbourne and 50 for Carlton, winning two best and fairest trophies with the Demons and being named All-Australian three times.


He won premierships as a player with the Demons in 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960 and 1964 and with the Blues as captain-coach in 1968.

Barassi then hung up his boots to concentrate on coaching, guiding Carlton to its next flag in 1970 before guiding the Roos' to their first, and second, premierships, before heading to the Swans. 

Tony Lockett and coach Ron Barassi celebrate in the rooms after winning the 1995 AFL pre-season practice match between Hawthorn and Sydney. Picture: AFL Photos

Post-career he was named as rover in the AFL Team of the Century, recognised with Legend status in the Australian Football Hall of Fame as well as being inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan said he was always struck by Barassi's enthusiasm for football and its evolution.

"Ron Barassi always wanted to see the next development, the next step and the next achievement for footy, while loving the game and what it took to play at the highest level," McLachlan said.
"He was fierce, challenging and determined and he loved most of all the next contest for the ball, and watched games with an eye for the skills of the game and the courage and desire to play it well.

Hassa Mann & Ron Barassi carry Melbourne's 2021 Premiership Flag during the round one match between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs at the MCG, March 16, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"Every time in recent years when we would see him at the MCG watching a match, our game was better for his presence and we have lost a hero of our sport.
"On behalf of our clubs, our players, our fans and the game of Australian football, Ron Barassi has contributed more than an individual could possibly give to our sport and we give our deepest condolences to Cherryl, all members of the Barassi family and their many friends."

Melbourne CEO Gary Pert acknowledged the legacy Barassi left at the Demons.

"Everyone at the Melbourne Football Club is extremely saddened to hear of Ron's passing," Pert said.

"We send our sympathies and condolences to Ron’s family and friends at this incredibly sad time.

AFL legend Ron Barassi with Melbourne's 2021 premiership cup. Picture:

"Ron was a much-loved character and friend to so many of us around the club which is why he will be so deeply missed.

"Ron was more than a player and coach. He was an icon of the game, and a true Melbourne person. His legacy will forever be etched in the history of the game.

"The entire football community has lost a giant, but Ron's spirit and impact will live on through the game that he loved so dearly."

Carlton president Luke Sayers praised the man who broke a 21-year drought when the Blues won the 1968 premiership.

"Arguably our game’s greatest name, a giant of Australian Football, who left a legacy at every club whose doors he walked through, none more so than our own," Sayers said on Saturday.

"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 drought-breaking flag in '68, followed by 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, the 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."

Swans chairman Andrew Pridham said Barassi left a profound legacy at the club after leading it through its most challenging period in the early 1990s.

"Ron was a wonderful person and had a huge influence on the Swans, for which we are forever grateful," he said.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with Ron's family at this time."

AFL Commission chairman Richard Goyder recognised the influence Barassi had on building Australian rules football on a national level.

Ron Barassi shakes hands with Dermott Brereton representing South Australia before the 1990's AFL State of Origin match between Victoria and South Australia. Picture: AFL Photos

"When our game was largely based in the south and west of Australia and revolved around the state leagues, Ron Barassi was constantly ahead of his time pushing for national development and a national league," Mr Goyder said.

"He revolutionised the game as a player – created the position of ruck rover – built premiership success at clubs as a coach and then was our first great evangelist to take the game north and grow it to become what we have today.
"He was known all across Australia when football wasn’t always known."

After leaving the Blues, Barassi went to North Melbourne, a club starved of success to that point in its history.

Current club president Dr Sonja Hood said Barassi's time at Arden Street would forever be etched in the Kangaroos' history.
"Ron was a giant of the game and for a time he was ours, Dr Hood said.
"He famously guided us to our first-ever VFL/AFL premiership with a win over Hawthorn in 1975 and he backed that up with another flag in 1977, this time with a win over Collingwood.  

Ron Barassi with Barry Davis during the Round five match between North Melbourne and Hawthorn at Etihad Stadium, May 02, 2015. Picture: AFL Photos

"But he was much more than a coach – he was a man of the game and the game will forever owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. 
"He gave his all for every club he represented – first Melbourne, then Carlton, North Melbourne and finally at Sydney.
"For us, Ron will always be our first premiership coach and he’ll always be a North Melbourne legend.
"Vale Ronald Dale Barassi."