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When Barrot and Barassi traded blows

Billy Barrot in full flight. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)
Billy Barrot in full flight. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

The late Bill Barrot’s tenure at Carlton lasted just 12 senior appearances through 1971 and could not have ended in more contentious circumstances.

It happened in the final home and away match of the ’71 season – against Collingwood at Princes Park – after Barrot (who died last week of a heart ailment at the age of 72) and the equally headstrong coach Ron Barassi became embroiled in a vigorous altercation in the old Heatley Stand rooms at the half-time.

As was the case at the corresponding period of the famous ’70 grand final, Barassi’s Blues were seven goals in arrears when the half-time siren blared.

Adrian Gallagher, Carlton’s resident first rover, well remembers the incident.

“We were all in for ‘Barass’s’ address and I remember him saying at one point that Billy didn’t go hard enough on the press box wing,” Gallagher recalled.

“No-one took too much notice of it until Barass got to the end of the address when Bill got up and threw a full-blown uppercut at him from the bleachers. I remember Bill saying ‘Don’t tell me that I pulled out – I saw you pull out too’ and both him and Barass scuffling as we prepared to run out.”

“The other thing I remember is Barass saying ‘Barrot off, Quirk on’. ‘Quirky’ then turned to me and said ‘Where am I playing?’ and I told him I had no idea.”

As was the case with Hopkins the previous September, Quirk proved a revelation off the bench - booting two second half goals as the Blues reversed a 42-point deficit at the main change to win by 19.

That game would double as the last hurrahs at Carlton for premiership players Sergio Silvagni and Barry Mulcair, together with the two protagonists Barrot and Barassi.

And according to Gallagher, neither Bill or Ron bore a grudge.

Ron Barassi taken at the very finish of the last day game he coached for Carlton on 28 August, 1971.

“Billy was the first bloke in the rooms after that game as if nothing had happened,” Gallagher recalled. “We went to the trots that night and he was there with us. Barass was like Bill too – he was volatile, but in a moment it was over with.”

Remarkably, Barrot finished eighth in the club’s best and fairest award.

A two-time Richmond premiership player and dual club best and fairest, Barrot managed just 12 senior matches in his one and only season as a Carlton player in ’71 – and yet he still managed an eighth placing in the Robert Reynolds Trophy count for club best and fairest.

Which was of no surprise to “Gags”.

“Bill was a superstar. At Richmond he used to work out in the gym when gymwork wasn’t fashionable but Tom Hafey introduced it. He was a powerful, explosive player and he had good pace,” Gallagher said.

“At Richmond, Tommy never made a move – with the exception of Barrot to full-forward in the ’69 Grand Final when he kicked three on (Wes) Lofts – and I’ve often wondered why Barry Gill wasn’t swung onto him.

“That year at Carlton, Bill kicked six from the centre against South (and I kicked seven, but that was beside the point) and it’s hard to believe he was finished at 27. He really was a likeable bloke but he was volatile and maybe in the end they thought they couldn’t control him.”