Looking back at the notable events of 2023, it’s time to say a final farewell to some of the legends of the sports world. In September, AFL icon Ron Barassi passed away, prompting a flood of tributes for the player and coach who gained nationwide fame over his illustrious career. Barassi played 253 senior VFL games in his career and claimed 10 premierships at Melbourne, Carlton, and North Melbourne as a player and coach. He was known for his role in inspiring Carlton’s comeback from a 44-point deficit at half-time to win the 1970 grand final, and for his focus on handpassing over kicking, which still holds true in the modern game.
In February, sailing royalty Syd Fischer, known as Australian yachting’s greatest tactician, passed away at the age of 95 right before his 96th birthday. In March, rugby league hardman John Sattler, who famously played the majority of the 1970 Grand Final with a broken jaw, died at the age of 80. In April, notable Australian cricketers Brian Taber, Brian Booth, Ken Archer, Faith Coulthard, and Norma Johnston passed away, followed by the deaths of renowned doubles tennis player Owen Davidson and Australian golf champion Frank Phillips in May. In the same month, the racing community mourned the death of jockey Dean Holland, and English football celebrated the life of Bobby Charlton, considered one of the finest players in history, who passed away at the age of 86. In January, Australia’s first openly gay Olympian, Simon Dunn, passed away at the age of 35, and Wallabies stalwart Rob Heming died at the age of 90. Lastly, American rock star Tina Turner, who made an impact on rugby league through iconic advertising campaigns in the early 1990s, died in May at the age of 83.