THE MCG – the place Ron Barassi could rightly have called his own - has fittingly served as the locale for his last farewell; a state memorial service having attracted thousands of football people, Carlton greats amongst them.
On a day in which the mercury hit 31 (what else?), supporters joined players and officials past and present, and dignitaries from the Premier of Victoria down to farewell Barassi, whose Grand Final win-loss breakdown forever stands at 17 for 10 across four League clubs as both senior player and coach.
Representing the Carlton Football Club was President Luke Sayers and Chief Executive Officer Brian Cook, together with Spirit Of Carlton Manager Shane O’Sullivan. The former Carlton CEO Stephen Gough was also in attendance, as were the former Carlton Senior Coaches David Parkin and Denis Pagan.
Former players farewelling their old mentor included Rod Austin, Bruce Doull, Syd Jackson, Peter Jones, Peter Kerr, David McKay and Phillip Pinnell, together with Garry Crane, who gave up the No.31 for Barassi when the latter was famously appointed Carlton Captain-Coach on the cusp of the 1965 season.
A pre-recorded video message was gloriously conveyed by Brent Crosswell – the dual Carlton Premiership player of 1968 and 1970 under Barassi’s watch (and again at North in 1975 and ’77).
To quote Crosswell: “Ron’s competitive drive on the field was almost pathological, and as a coach he was a force of nature . . . the origins of his powerful football personality and his almost maniacal drive to compete will always be a source of wonder to me.”
McKay, the four-time Carlton Premiership player – the first two with Barassi at the helm – believed the state memorial service truly met its lofty expectations.
“It was a magnificent send off to a magnificent football person,” McKay, the four-time Carlton Premiership player said following the service.
“I said to ‘Schimma’ (North Melbourne premiership player Wayne Schimmelbusch) how fortunate we were to play under such an influential, driven and charismatic football person who not only influenced our football careers but helped shape our lives.
“Ron Barassi was someone we loved and respected and still do. We are so very grateful for spending time in his presence.”