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The Age


Date: 01/07/2005
Words: 588
Source: AGE
          Publication: The Age
Section: Sport
Page: 15
In a weekly Q & A, key figures in Australian sport reveal their thoughts, views - and regrets

Who was your sporting hero when growing up and why?

Being the son of a Melbourne player, I had many: Jack Mueller, Norm Smith, Wally Lock, Alby Rodda and Eddie Jackson. Lock combined strength with guile and football intelligence. He was dashing and played with flair. I was just old enough - about 12 - to appreciate that. Mueller and Smith combined beautifully in the 1948 grand final. Mueller, a veteran, had been brought back from the seconds but kicked about 25 goals in the final series. It was a magnificent thing.

If you had a ticket to one sporting event in history, which would you choose and why?

I would like to have been at the tied Test in Brisbane in 1960 (when Australia played the West Indies). I think it's one of only two . . . times it has ever happened in Test cricket . . . It's so unusual in Test cricket to be down to the last over or the last couple of balls. It would have been electric.

Who is the most interesting figure in sport today?

Tiger Woods. He's the only black person to have made it in golf from America. His background and how he was trained by his father is an amazing story. I like the way the family has been very tight around him. Now he is coming to terms with being a mere champion, whereas a few years ago he was unbelievable and took all before him. Considering the pressure the guy has been under, he's been fantastic in the public eye.

What's your greatest sporting regret?

The 1958 grand final. Melbourne was favourite (against Collingwood) and was going for its fourth premiership in a row to equal Collingwood's record. But they were the best team on the day and it was a missed chance. The problem with a sporting contest is you can never make up for it if you lose. That's my greatest regret, by a fair bit.

What sport don't you "get"?

Synchronised swimming. I want to know why it is called a sport. I understand the people in it are dedicated. They are very good swimmers (but) it's too like dancing.

Your favourite sport apart from the one you're famous for?

I like to watch team sports because there are a lot more things to take in . . . But I like to play tennis. You have to outwit your opponent - use your brain and read the play - as well as use speed and strength. It's very involving, (which is) what makes sport a wonderful pastime.

Has sport changed for the better or worse since you were in your prime?

Because of consumerism and the urge to own things, people work harder and have less time for the organised sports. It's better for youngsters to be brought up in a team sport. You're thinking we, we, we instead of me, me, me . . . Professionalism is coming to football . . . I'm not sure where it is going to take us. These sports will have to fight very hard to keep some of the magic and camaraderie of sport as it was played.

Ron Barassi is one of the most influential and respected figures in the history of Australian football, having played in six VFL premierships with Melbourne (two as captain) between 1953 and 1964, then coaching four premiership teams - two with Carlton and two with North Melbourne.

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