Barassi Cup or Barassi Way? How to honour an all-time footy legend

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Whether it is the premiership cup, a stand at the MCG or one of Melbourne’s busiest streets, AFL greats agree the name, Ron Barassi, should adorn at least one great landmark.

The most popular choice to honour the legend of the game, who died on Saturday aged 87, is naming footy’s most prized piece of silverware after the man, allowing premiership heroes to hoist the Ron Barassi Cup for years to come.

Melbourne captain Ron Barassi holds up the 1964 VFL premiership cup as Collingwood captain Ray Gabelich looks on.Credit: The Age

The Victorian government has offered Barassi’s family a state funeral, and Premier Daniel Andrews posted on social media that he hopes they accept the memorial.

But former Melbourne star Russell Robertson said renaming the premiership trophy should also be on the cards for honouring Barassi, who played and coached in 10 grand final victories.

Barassi conked out the day after North Melbourne’s first VFL premiership victory in 1975.Credit: Fairfax

“The man is synonymous with success,” he said.

“There’s not much else we can really give, and I’m surprised there’s not something else already named after him.

“He knows a thing or two about the silverware.

“I don’t think there would be anyone in the AFL or VFL fraternity that wouldn’t agree with that idea.”

Robertson said Barassi should have been honoured already, and it would be fitting to see his name appear on grand final day alongside that of fellow legend Norm Smith, who played a leading role in Barassi’s life and has the best player medal named after him.

“His mentor, his father figure, because his father died early, was Norm Smith,” he said.

The bronze statue of Barassi outside the MCG, unveiled in 2003.Credit: Darrian Traynor

“You win the best player in the final, you get a Norm Smith, and then the son’s medal after that could be the Ron Barassi Cup. I love it.”

Former Collingwood president and television personality Eddie McGuire said he believed it should be named the Barassi-Matthews trophy to also celebrate the career of Hawthorn, Collingwood and Brisbane hero Leigh Matthews.

“If the AFL decides that they want to keep the trophy pristine, and there’s merit in that as well, then I would think that the Melbourne Cricket Club should name the MCC Members [stand] the Ron Barassi,” he said.

Could Swanston St be renamed Barassi way?Credit: Chris Hopkins

“Having Ron Barassi on one side and Shane Warne on the other would just be magnificent, and Bill Ponsford at the city end, that would be sensational.”

McGuire said if the cup or stand couldn’t be renamed, then maybe Melbourne CBD’s Swanston Street could become Barassi Way.

Former Carlton boss and AFL football chief Ian Collins called for a more permanent memorial than a grandstand, as they could be pulled down in the years to come.

“To me, that doesn’t show the real significance of the person,” he said.

“The cup seems to be the most natural one of all because everything to do with the grand final has sort of got a name.

“To name the premiership, you couldn’t get any better than that to name it after Ron Barassi.”

Collins said Barassi was universally known, an upstanding member of the community who wanted to see Aussie Rules grow.

“You couldn’t get a cleaner, if that’s right the word, individual,” he said.

Melbourne Football Club president Kate Roffey and Ron Barassi with the 2021 premiership cup.Credit: Eddie Jim

“He always wanted to see [the game] get bigger and better.”

Broadcaster and diehard Melbourne supporter Neil Mitchell said renaming the trophy was a no-brainer and that to make it formal, it should be called the Ron Barassi Junior Cup.

“You just see his reaction to the premiership cup the year Melbourne won it in 2021,” he said.

“They took the cup out to show him, and he just stood there and beamed at it because it was a Melbourne cup.

The Barassi Line became the name for the imaginary border between AFL and NRL.Credit: Kathleen Adele

“It meant a great deal to him, that cup, and to name it after him is an appropriate and excellent tribute.”

Coaching legend Mick Malthouse told Today Barassi had a profound impact on football.

“I’d like to think we will never forget the name Barassi in football; we know he’s an icon,” he said.

“If you looked up the dictionary and looked up AFL, we’re going to see his photograph there always.

“The Barassi name has got to be used exclusively for a football event, a football trophy or a football something, that just remembers the greatness of the man.”

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