AFL world pays tribute to Ron Joseph after North Melbourne icon's death

Ron Joseph is being remembered as the 'architect' of the Kangaroos' rise to prominence in the AFL.

Ron Joseph, pictured here with North Melbourne president Sonja Hood.
Ron Joseph with North Melbourne president Sonja Hood. Image: Twitter/Getty

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.

Ron Joseph, pictured here speaking at Lou Richards' state funeral in Melbourne in 2017.
Ron Joseph speaks at Lou Richards' state funeral in Melbourne in 2017. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images) (Adam Trafford/AFL Media via Getty Images)

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.

AFL world pays tribute to Ron Joseph

Joseph's friend Francis Trainor told "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."

with AAP

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