AFL rocked by death of former Brownlow Medal winner Barry Round

The AFL legend's death has left fans around Australia shocked and devastated.

The AFL world has been rocked by the news that former Brownlow Medal winner Barry Round has died at the age of 72. Pic: AAP/Getty
The AFL world has been rocked by the news that former Brownlow Medal winner Barry Round has died at the age of 72. Pic: AAP/Getty

The AFL world is in mourning after sad confirmation on Saturday that former Brownlow Medal winner Barry Round has died at the age of 72. The Footscray, South Melbourne/Sydney Swans and Williamstown great passed away on the Gold Coast after being admitted into palliative care recently. The Herald Sun reported that he died as a result of organ failure.

Round made his debut with Footscray (now the Western Bulldogs) in 1969, and played 135 games for the club. He played 193 games with South Melbourne/Sydney from 1976-85, and coached and played for Williamstown in the VFA.

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It was in Sydney where the ruckman really made a name for himself during a brilliant spell between 1980-1985, where he played 193 games and shared the Brownlow Medal with former Footscray teammate Bernie Quinlan in 1981.

The former star ruckman will be remembered as an icon of the AFL/VFL, with one of his most important achievements being the way he galvanised the player group following South Melbourne's move to Sydney in 1982. Alongside his loyal deputy Mark Browning, Round convinced the players that the relocation to Sydney was the only option for the club's long-term survival.

"The early days of the Swans in Sydney, after their painful relocation from the Lake Oval in Melbourne, were incredibly challenging for the club as they sought to generate a new fan base and establish themselves at the SCG," AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said.

"In a turbulent period as the club battled to build its new life and the competition itself grappled with the first stage of expansion four decades ago, Round held the player group together with his larger-than-life personality.

"Under his leadership, and because of his leadership, the Swans fought huge obstacles to lay down a foundation that sees them today as one of the great clubs of the AFL."

"Barry was a big man who leaves behind a legacy which will forever live in the folklore of our club," Swans president Andrew Pridham said. "He was an outstanding player and forged such a decorated career. But his impact at the Swans reaches far beyond the playing arena.

"He was among those who led the club through the turbulent relocation era in the early 1980s and his support and influence were crucial to the move ultimately going ahead, in the face of much opposition."

Renowned for being a brave and broad-shouldered ruckman, Round was a two-time best and fairest winner at Sydney and captained the Swans between 1980 and 1984. The Swans described their inaugural skipper as "one of the true greats" of the game and he had the honour of being the first to lead the team onto the field for a competitive game at their SCG home.

"Our club is mourning the loss of one of the true greats of our game, Bloods Champion Barry Round," a Sydney Swans statement read on social media. "We extend our deepest condolences to Barry’s partner Jenni, his children David and Natalie, his grandchildren, and his extended family and friends."

After a successful stint with the red and whites, Round finished his career with Williamstown - where he played a further 110 games. He was Williamstown’s premiership captain and coach in both 1986 and 1990 and is a legend at the club after being inducted into their inaugural Hall of Fame in 2014.

Seen here, Barry Round at the 2022 Australian Football Hall of Fame Dinner at Crown Palladium in June.
Barry Round is seen here during the 2022 Australian Football Hall of Fame Dinner at Crown Palladium in June. Pic: Getty

Williamstown CEO Ashley Baker offered condolences to Round's family on behalf of the club, while paying tribute to a man he said was a "legend" and a "gentleman who gave so much to our great game".

“On behalf of the Williamstown Football Club I would like to pass on our deepest condolences to the Round family,” Baker said in a statement on the club’s website. “The Seagull family is mourning the loss of a club legend and a gentleman who gave so much to our great game and our wonderful club.

“A dual premiership winning player, J.J Liston Trophy winner, Norm Goss Medal recipient, three-time Gerry Callahan Medal winner and WFC Team of the Century and Hall of Fame inductee says it all. Barry will be missed by so many and we have lost a true champion of the game”.

Barry Round tributes pour in across Australia

Round was also inducted into Australian Football’s Hall of Fame in 2001 and was in 2003 named in the Sydney Swans' team of the century.

His death has left the AFL community shocked and devastated, with tributes pouring in from around the country for a man that touched so many lives. "The AFL extends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Barry Round after the 1981 Brownlow Medallist and Australian Football Hall of Fame member sadly passed away," the league said in a statement on Twitter.

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