Thousands of people have gathered at the Melbourne Cricket Ground today to celebrate the life of AFL great Ron Barassi.
The pioneering ruck-rover won 10 premierships as a player and coach with Melbourne, Carlton, North Melbourne and Sydney.
He died in September due to complications from a fall, aged 87.
The doors to Melbourne’s hallowed oval opened at 11am, with friends, family, fans and AFL royalty filing past his statue, into the grounds.
The state memorial service is being led by former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, who has described Barassi as the original “legacy boy” of the game.
“If it takes a village to bring up a kid, Ron Barassi was the child who was brought up by a code by football,” McGuire told ABC Radio Melbourne this morning.
McGuire said the Melbourne Football Club coterie made a pledge to look after Barassi when his father — who played 58 games for Melbourne — was killed in Tobruk. He was the first VFL player to die in World War II.
“It was the best investment football ever did, and from that moment on Ron didn’t ever stop giving,” added McGuire.
Ron Barassi is being remembered as a legend of the AFL.(AAP: James Ross)
Throughout his life, Barassi received almost every AFL and Australian sporting honour possible, nabbing spots on both the Australian Football Hall of Fame and the Sport Australia Hall of Fame early on.
He was officially named an AFL Legend in 1996, promoted to a Legend of Australian Sport a decade later.
“He would go anywhere in the world and generations of Australians or anyone who had been to Australia knew who Ron Barassi was,” said McGuire.
“He was Australian football.”
Temperatures are expected to soar to 31 degrees Celsius today — the number of Barassi’s football jumper, and his father’s before him.
Source: AFL NEWS ABC