Barrie Robran North Adelaide Football Club Great

South Australian born Barrie Robran MBE is a former Aussie Rules footballer considered to be one of the greatest ever to play for the North Adelaide Football Club.

In a career spanning 14 seasons he won several honors which includes three Magarey Medals, South Australian football’s highest individual honor, in 1968, 1970 and 1973. During his playing career, Barrie Robran was respected for his exclusive talent and sportsmanship.

He was also one of the most humble, media shy players who did nothing but focus on the game. Barrie Robran

Early Life

Barrie Robran was educated at Whyalla Technical High School and was a natural athlete. He participated is several sports apart from football. He also found time to play baseball, cross country running, basketball, cricket and table tennis. Centrebet Review

The opportunity to play alongside the legendary Don Lindner was not one that Robran wanted to miss, which prompted him to sign up with North Adelaide. Lindner captained the side from 1963 to 1969 and also coached the North Adelaide side from 1963 to 1966.

Early Career

Barrie Robran ’s career as a junior started for the North’s Seconds in their 1996 finals campaign. His early success brought him to the senior team against Sturt at the Unley Oval in April 1967. An excellent debut season had him share the best and fairest award with his hero, Lindner.

He was also third for the Magarey Medal. This prompted League officials to give more awards to recognize the outstanding talent.

Barrie Robran played as a centre half forward for most games although he excelled in the centre and as a ruck-over as well. Victoria tried their best to lure Barrie Robran to their side but failed many attempts.

He even went ahead and signed a Form 4 with Carlton to prevent recruiters from Victoria from hounding him.

During his career, he also represented South Australia and was an automatic selection from his very first season. Barrie Robran played a key role in North Adelaide’s premiership sides in 1971 and 1972. He was also instrumental in their convincing victory over Carlton in the 1972 premiership.

He won the best and fairest at North Adelaide from 1968 to 1973 and again in 1976.

Knee Injury

Barrie Robran found it hard to recover from a serious knee injury sustained in an interstate match in 1974 and struggled to maintain fitness over the next 6 years until his retirement in 1980. His knee buckled after being hit late by Leigh Matthews.

Barrie Robran underwent three operations in three States and it was his courage and resilience that saw him through the rest of his playing career.

Medals and Awards

The fact that he polled four Magarey Medal votes from the three games he played in the final season is evidence enough of his spirit and innate skills. Barrie Robran retired after playing 201 games for North Adelaide in addition to 17 State of Origin appearances.

He also coached the side for three years after his retirement.

Barrie Robran made it a habit of picking up awards and medals every season. In 1968 he won the Mr J.W. Forrester’s President’s Trophy and the Harold MacFarlane North Adelaide ‘Player of the Year’ award. He also won the Channel 7 ‘Footballer of the Year’ award.

During the season he had 576 disposals, a major increase from the previous year’s tally of 312.

Footballer of the Year

In the 1969 season, Barrie Robran averaged 29 disposals and 9 marks per game. Apart from another best and fairest he was presented with one more Channel 7 ‘Footballer of the Year’ award and the News-Ampol Trophy and The Advertiser Trophy.

In 1970 he won his third successive Channel 7 ‘Footballer of the Year’ award. He also kicked 8-0 in Round 5 of the season.

An eye injury in a round 8 match of the 1971 season did not deter Barrie Robran from averaging 29 disposals and 9 marks per game. However, injury forced him to miss the finals that year.

He won the Fairest & Most Brilliant award and was also awarded the H.G. Stock Memorial medal, ‘Player of the Year’ and ‘Best Player in the Finals’ trophies from the North Adelaide Football Club.

Australian ‘All-Stars’

Barrie Robran played his 100th game for North Adelaide in round 2 of the 1972 season and played alongside his brother Rodney in the team’s victory over Port Adelaide in the NAFC League Premiership. He was a member of the Australian ‘All-Stars’ team that toured London, Athens & Singapore to play exhibition matches against VFL premiers Carlton.

In 1973, Barrie Robran took a total of 25 marks and 91 disposals in rounds 10 & 11. He averaged 20.2 kicks and 9.9 handballs per game. His average hit outs were 6.7 per game. He picked up another F&MB award and his 3rd Magarey Medal for the for ‘Fairest & Most Brilliant’ player in the SANFL.

North Adelaide League Captain

In 1974, Barrie Robran took over as captain of the North Adelaide League team. He was State Captain for two games and was the 2nd Best Player in the NAFC best and fairest count.

Despite missing 10 games due to injury he polled 15 votes to stand 3rd in the Magarey Medal.

In the 1975 season, he still managed to average 23 disposals per game and win North’s Best Team Man trophy despite his injury that kept him out of 5 games including the final. He missed 8 games during the 1976 season. However, in round 5 he kicked 6-1.

This was the year he was made ‘Player Life Member’ of the SANFL and ‘Life Member’ of North Adelaide Football Club.


Barrie Robran did not appear in any league games due to operations and rehabilitation during the 1977 season. In 1978, he remained captain until Barry Stringer was appointed and assumed the role of coach, a role he continued until his retirement in 1980. At the end of 1981 he was awarded an MBE from Queen Elizabeth II.

He made a return to the field for Walkerville FC in SAFA in 1983. However, three injuries permitted him to play only eight games. A broken ankle ultimately put an end to his playing career.


In 1987 Barrie Robran received a NFL Champions Medallion for his role as selector with the SA State Team.

The very next year he was inducted as a Member of the Australian Football Hall of Fame. He was selected as a member of North Adelaide’s Team of the Century in 2000 while the Australian Federal Government presented him with the ‘Year 2000 Australian Sports Medal’.

In 2001 he received the status of ‘Legend’ in the Australian Hall of Fame. He was the first to be awarded the status without any VFL or AFL experience. In 2002, he was inducted to the SA Football Hall of Fame.

The mercurial Barrie Robran was known for his speed, agility, sharp reflexes and ability to read the game much better than many others on the field. His skills and ability to influence the course of the game is something that not many footy fans may get to witness today.

Many compare the legend with cricket’s Don Bradman and billiards Walter Lindrum, equally known for their prowess in their respective sports.

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