Barrie Robran

Barrie Charles Robran MBE (born 25 September 1947 in Whyalla, South Australia) is a former Australian rules footballer who represented North Adelaide in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) from 1967 to 1980. He won South Australian football's highest individual honour, the Magarey Medal, on four occasions – 1968, 1970 and 1973 and yet to be announced

Barrie Robran
Statue of Robran outside Adelaide Oval
Personal information
Full name Barrie Charles Robran
Date of birth (1947-09-25) 25 September 1947
Place of birth Whyalla, South Australia
Original team(s) North Whyalla
Position(s) Centre Half-Forward, Ruck Rover, Centre
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1967–80 North Adelaide 201 (196)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
South Australia 17 (?)
Coaching career
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
1978–80 North Adelaide ? (?)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1980.
Career highlights

Robran is generally considered to be the greatest ever South Australian football player.[1] His citation in the Australian Football Hall of Fame describes him as "Regarded as the best player never to play at AFL level".[2]

Robran won immense respect not only for his talent, but also his humility and sportsmanship. He played most of his time at centre half-forward, but was versatile enough to also play in the centre or on the ball as a ruck-rover. He resisted many overtures to play in Victoria, at one stage signing a form four with Carlton so that the Victorian recruiters would stop pestering him. Off the field, Robran kept a low public profile and shunned much publicity.[3]

Early life and career

Robran was the firstborn son of father Colin and mother Glad. He had a younger brother, Rodney. He was educated at Whyalla Technical High School and was School Prefect in his final year, 1964. A natural athlete, Robran excelled not only at football, but also played cricket, basketball and table tennis. He also participated in cross-country running and baseball.[4]

Robran joined North Adelaide so that he could play alongside his hero Don Lindner. He from Whyalla in 1966 to play juniors, and he began his League career in 1967.[4] In his debut season he was co-winner of North's best and fairest with Don Lindner, came third in the Magarey Medal, and played in the South Australian state team.

Robran went on to win the Magarey medal in 1968, 1970 and 1973, and won the North Adelaide best and fairest every year from 1968 to 1973. He was instrumental in North Adelaide's premiership sides in 1971 and 1972, as well as their Australian Championship win over VFL premier, Carlton in 1972. Making the move to the VFL never interested him; a quiet country boy, he never aspired to a life in Melbourne.

A knee injury in 1974 severely curtailed his career, although he struggled on through injury until retiring in 1980. It is a measure of his innate skill that even in his final season, playing with restriction, he polled four Magarey Medal votes in the three games he played. He played 201 games for the Roosters and made 17 State appearances. Robran was coach of North Adelaide for three years, but enjoyed little success.

After retiring from North Adelaide, Barrie played for the Walkerville Football Club in 1983 but missed the Grand Final after suffering an ankle injury during the final series. Barrie become a junior coach at the club, coaching both his sons through the junior grades. Barrie still attends Walkerville Football Club games from time to time.

After playing

Robran was among the first footballers to be inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996. In 2001, he was upgraded to legend status. He was the first South Australian player, and the first player never to have played in the VFL/AFL, to be named a legend. but was unable to accept his award as he was away trekking with his wife in Alaska and Canada. His sons Matthew and Jonathan accepted the award on his behalf.[5]

In 2000, Barrie Robran was named as a ruck rover in North Adelaide's "Team of the Century" (1901-2000).[6] He was also part of the teams selection committee alongside then Roosters Chairman Colin Walsh, Tom McKenzie, Gordon Schwartz, Jeff Pash and Don Lindner. Both Pash and Lindner were also selected in the team.

In 2002, Robran was one of the 113 inaugural inductees into the South Australian Football Hall of Fame.

In 1981 he received the honour of Member of the Order of the British Empire for his services to football.

Robran is depicted taking a high mark in Jamie Cooper's painting the Game That Made Australia, commissioned by the AFL in 2008 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the sport[7]

In 2014 he was the first SA footballer accorded the honour of having a statue at the revamped Adelaide Oval.

In 2012 he was elevated to the status of legend in the SA Sports Hall of Fame, joining Sir Donald Bradman and Bart Cummings as the only three legends in the Hall of Fame.

Personal life

Robran married Taimi Vestel at the Enfield Methodist Church in January 1970.[4] He had two sons who also played football: Matthew (born 1971) played in Adelaide's 1997 and 1998 premiership victories, while Jonathon (born 1972) represented Hawthorn and Essendon.

Robran also had a very brief cricket career, in the 1971/72 season playing one List A and two first-class games for South Australia.


  2. "Legends". AFL Hall of Fame.
  3. Connolly, Rohan (22 May 2001). "Robran is first non-VFL, AFL player to win `legend' status". The Age.
  4. "Barrie Robran". Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  5. Costa, Gabrielle (23 May 2001). "Legend Robran hits the trail". The Age.
  6. "North Adelaide Team of the Century". Archived from the original on 20 July 2008.
  7. "The Game That Made Australia". Australian Football League. Archived from the original on 13 October 2010. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
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