Heartbreaking blow for AFL legend after Covid-19 diagnosis

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·Sports Editor
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AFL legend Ron Barassi, pictured here with wife Nancy.
Ron Barassi and wife Nancy have both tested positive for Covid-19. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

AFL legend Ron Barassi has been cruelly denied the chance to celebrate the Melbourne Demons' premiership triumph at the MCG after testing positive for Covid-19.

The 85-year-old Demons legend is understood to have contracted coronavirus at a 70th birthday party for former VFL player and media identity Peter "Crackers" Keenan last month.

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A spokesperson for Barassi told The Age that he and his wife were both fully vaccinated and they did not need to go to hospital.

But the diagnosis means Barassi won't be on hand to take part in Melbourne's long-awaited premiership celebrations at the MCG on Sunday.

Barassi was set to hand over the premiership cup to Demons coach Simon Goodwin and captain Max Gawn in the club's official Victorian celebrations.

Instead, a "surprise member of the Melbourne alumni" will have the honour after club great and media identity Garry Lyon did so after September's grand final victory at Optus Stadium in Perth.

Former Melbourne coach Neale Daniher will present Goodwin with the Jock McHale Medal, while Christian Petracca will receive his Norm Smith Medal from Demons games record-holder David Neitz.

Ron Barassi won't be at Demons premiership party

For 57 years, Barassi was Melbourne's most-recent premiership captain, having led the Demons to the flag in 1964.

Gawn now holds that mantle after the Demons' curse-breaking triumph in the AFL grand final in September.

Such is Barassi's stature in the sport, he was inducted as one of the first legends in the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

Ron Barassi, pictured here at Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne in 2018.
Ron Barassi at Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne in 2018. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

He played in six premierships during a golden era for the Demons between 1953 and 1964.

He later coached Carlton and North Melbourne to two premierships each.

Barassi also had coaching stints with the Demons and the Sydney Swans.

Melbourne's official premiership party is set to welcome about 40,000 fans - most of whom were stuck in Victoria's lockdown and unable to attend the drought-breaking grand final victory in Perth.

Many have expressed their devastation that Barassi won't be able to take part.

with AAP

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