Amazing news for sporting fans – the Ron Barassi library, which was to be auctioned off in early September, has been purchased, meaning it will be preserved for Australian football fans for the foreseeable future.
Paul Little – former Essendon chairman and long-time managing director of Toll Holdings – has purchased the collection in its entirety.
Everyone knows the name Ron Barassi and his voluminous achievements in a football career that has spanned some more than six decades – six premierships as a player, four as a coach, spots in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, AFL Team of the Century and Australian Football Hall of Fame as a Legend.
But few may know of the footballer’s passion for collecting. An avid scavenger, he has sought to own one copy of every text ever published on Australian rules football, as well as a cavalcade of assorted, iconic Australian sports memorabilia.
Some of the items, which were to be auctioned off by Leonard Joel, include an 1879 edition of The Footballer, a copy of The Don: A Biography signed by author Roland Perry and Sir Donald Bradman himself, and a history of the Collingwood Football Club from the years 1892-1948.
“Ron is a great friend for whom I care and respect immensely and his unique, more than half century long, sporting and public legacy is something I wanted to secure forever,” Paul Little said. He is now in the process of working with the AFL and the Melbourne Football Club to find a place for the collection.
Ron Barassi said of the result, “I was born with football in my blood and I’ve had the pleasure of lifelong involvement with the game that I love – the clubs, the players and the fans far and wide. My collecting has been both very personal and interesting through this journey. I’m thrilled and honoured that my good friend, Paul Little, has so generously seen fit to keep my collection together for public display. This happening in my lifetime is amazing and humbling.”
The sale price will remain confidential but with a wink Leonard Joel managing director John Albrecht said that “it is unquestionably the most valuable football sporting collection ever sold in Australia.”