AFL fans produced a wonderful tribute to late legend Ron Barassi at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night, putting their NRL counterparts to shame after some unsavoury scenes 24 hours earlier. News filtered through on Saturday afternoon that Barassi had died at age 87, sparking an outpouring of tributes around the AFL world.
A moment of silence was held before Port Adelaide's clash with GWS at Adelaide Oval, and fans remained extremely respectful and didn't call out. You could've heard a pin drop anywhere around the ground, a complete contrast to what transpired at AAMI Park on Friday night.
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A moment of silence was also held before the Melbourne Storm took on the Sydney Roosters after the death of legendary Queensland player and coach John McDonald. But the actions of a few spectators ruined the tribute.
Calls of “come on Melbourne” and “up the Roosters” could be heard during the poignant scenes, leaving TV viewers gobsmacked. Former Penrith and Queensland Maroons player Martin Lang wrote on social media: "Spectators who make themselves heard during a minute’s silence should be removed from the ground and suspended." Others described it as "disgusting" to hear people calling out.
— 7AFL (@7AFL) September 16, 2023
Thankfully there wasn't a repeat on Saturday night as those in attendance at Adelaide Oval paid their respects. One person wrote on social media: "The Adelaide AFL crowd showing Ron Barassi the appropriate respect during a moments silence that two morons couldn’t show John McDonald at last night's NRL match in Melbourne."
Another commented: "Just watched Ron Barassi minute of silence which it was but not at a Storm game for a rugby league legend. Pretty much sums up the Storm attitude towards anyone other than themselves."
— JAKE 🇦🇺 (@IncrediblyBozza) September 16, 2023
Great tribute before #AFLPowerGiants for Ron Barassi, may he rest in peace. A true legend of Australian football.
— Brooke (@B_Richardson_) September 16, 2023
— Dan Bradley (@DanBradley29) September 16, 2023
— Ghost of wawrence (@whereswawrence) September 16, 2023
— Phil Devlin (@PhilPtw) September 16, 2023
Victoria to offer state funeral for Ron Barassi
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Saturday that Barassi's family will be offered a state funeral to honour the sporting icon. Andrews joined Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the AFL community in paying tribute to Barassi, with league chairman Richard Goyder calling him the game's most important figure since World War II.
"The word legend is used a lot. But nobody deserves it quite like Ron Barassi," Andrews said in a social media post. "He didn't just play the game - he reshaped it.
"And how fitting that (Friday) night's game was a cliffhanger between the Dees and the Blues. The government will offer Ron's family a state funeral to remember him - and I hope they accept."
Barassi played 253 games in the VFL, including 204 for Melbourne and 49 for Carlton. Between playing and coaching he won 10 premierships with Melbourne, Carlton and North Melbourne. Only fellow Demons legend Norm Smith (who coached Barassi) has as many flags in his Australian Rules playing and coaching career.
Barassi was the first player to be elevated to Legend status in the Australian Football Hall of Fame. Only Leigh Matthews and 'Mr Football' Ted Whitten are in the same conversation as the game's greatest player and coach.
In 2006 he became only the third Australian Rules footballer, along with Matthews and Whitten, to be inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. This week, Bob Skilton became the fourth. "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," Goyder said.
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