AFL fans and commentators are paying tribute to Ron Joseph after the influential powerbroker's death at age 77. A life member of the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the AFL, Joseph died on Tuesday after battling lung cancer.
North Melbourne paid tribute to Joseph, describing him as the 'architect' of the club's rise to prominence in the 1970s and one of its saviours earlier this century. Kangaroos president Dr Sonja Hood said Joseph's name would be as ingrained in the club's history as that of any player.
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"Ron was the architect of our success in the 1970s, one of the great defenders of our club in 2007 and unflinching in his love for North, holding successive boards and administrations to account, from within or outside of the organisation, always with a view to make the club better," Dr Hood said. "On a personal note, I was lucky to work with him in 2007, and grateful for the time and advice he has provided in the years since. He was one of a kind and will be sorely missed."
Joseph first worked at the club as a teenager in 1964 as an assistant to the club secretary. He went on to become a legendary recruiter and administrator, signing some of the biggest names in the club's history.
He famously lured coach Ron Barassi to North Melbourne in 1973, along with the help of president Dr Allen Aylett and vice president Albert Mantello. He was responsible for signing 19 of the 20 players that Barassi led to the club's first VFL premiership in 1975, which was followed by another flag in 1977.
He later helped convince James Brayshaw to join the North Melbourne board, with the pair offering fierce resistance when there was a push to relocate the club to the Gold Coast in 2007. Joseph and Barassi also steered Sydney through a difficult period during the 1990s.
Champion goal-kicker Tony Lockett headed north to join the Swans in 1994 after some persuasion from Joseph - a move that helped put AFL on the map in the Harbour City. He signed the likes of high-profile players David Dench, Wayne Schimmelbusch, Keith Greig, Malcolm Blight and Barry Cable for North Melbourne in the 1970s.
He also took advantage of the short-lived 10-year recruiting rule to lure Barry Davis, Doug Wade and John Rantall to the Kangaroos from rival clubs. They all went on to play roles in the Kangaroos' first successful era.
North Melbourne is mourning legendary club figure Ron Joseph, who passed away on Tuesday night at 77.
One of the architects of our premiership success in the 1970s, he later returned to fight an aggressive push to relocate the club to the Gold Coast.
— North Melbourne FC (@NMFCOfficial) March 22, 2023
AFL world pays tribute to Ron Joseph
Joseph's friend Francis Trainor told AFL.com: "Sadly, Ron left us last night. He was comfortable and peaceful. My sister Sue, Ron's niece and nephew Lisa and Murray, and myself were all with him, plus, of course, all the thoughts of so many people who loved him. We are all resilient creatures but things just won't be the same without Ron in our lives."
Tributes have also been flooding in on social media. Sydney Swans champion Jude Bolton tweeted: "Saddened to hear the news of Ron Joseph’s passing. Ron was an incredible mentor to me and many other players back in the day. Clubs always knew they were in for tough contract negotiations because he had the player’s best interests at heart."
Saddened to hear the news of Ron Joseph’s passing.
Ron was an incredible mentor to me and many other players back in the day.
Clubs always knew they were in for tough contract negotiations because he had the player’s best interests at heart.#RIP https://t.co/IjHVyQMuXP
— Jude Bolton (@Jude_Bolton) March 21, 2023
Vale Ron Joseph a.k.a. “RJ”. A truly great AFL warrior in every capacity he performed over many decades. Influenced/mentored plenty of people. Great respect for a straight talker, never gilded the Lily, always dealt with confrontation with dignity & respect without fear or favour
— Grant Thomas (@Thomo_Grant) March 21, 2023
Sad news. One of the game's great administrators and pivotal in helping the Roos go from easybeats to a power of the competition in the 1970s. RIP Ronny. @NMFCOfficial
Legendary North Melbourne powerbroker Ron Joesph dies https://t.co/7wZZUWirlF
— Rohan Connolly (@rohan_connolly) March 21, 2023
Sad news for @NMFCOfficial and footy fans with the passing of legendary administrator Ron Joseph, one of the most significant figures in the club's history. He helped to change the game off the field and rarely took no for answer. Plenty of amazing stories about his time in footy https://t.co/DSktquxBFc
— Glenn McFarlane (@MaccaHeraldSun) March 21, 2023
Helped get Ron Barassi to @NMFCOfficial & a key luring Tony Lockett to @sydneyswans. A legion of players signed to North eg Blight, Cable, Barry Davis, Wade, Glendinning, Krakouers. RJ also fought to keep North south. A major player agent & trek from VFL to @AFL. RIP Ronny https://t.co/fw27qQlweX
— Jake Niall (@JakeNiallTHEAGE) March 21, 2023
The fortunes of two clubs - North Melbourne and Sydney - would be markedly different if not for the brilliance of administrator Ron Joseph. A huge figure in footy for nearly half a century.
— Ashley Browne (@hashbrowne) March 21, 2023
Very sad day for our North Melbourne family. Vale Ronny Joseph.
— Julie-Anne Nott (@nott_julie) March 22, 2023
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