Barry Cable, the former Aussie Rules Footballer and Coach

Barry Thomas Cable, undoubtedly one of the greatest rovers in the games history

He played over 400 games in the Western Australian National Football League (WANFL) and Victorian Football League (VFL), prior to becoming a coach. The West Australian born Barry Cable launched his playing career in 1962, representing the Perth Football Club in the WANFL.

It was not long before he won the Sandover Medal for the fairest and best player in 1964 and established his authority over the game with the Tassie Medal coming his way as the best player in the 1966 Australian National Football Carnival. Barry Cable,

Early Career

At the age of 15 Barry Cable debuted for the Narrogin Imperials as a senior in the Upper Great Southern Football League (UGSFL).

His first attempt to play in the WANFL with East Fremantle ended in rejection since he was considered too short at five and a half feet. He then made it to the Perth Football Club in 1962, and immediately proved his mettle on the field and dispelled any myths about shorter players being unable to make the grade – Bookmaker Bonus Bets.

Former Carlton premiership captain, Ern Henfry was Barry Cable’s first coach at Perth. Carlton invited him to Melbourne in 1964 but Cable refused despite repeated attempts to lure him.

He only decided to move to North Melbourne in 1969 after secretary of the club Ron Joseph met him personally and change his perception about moving interstate.

Syd Barker Medal

Right from the beginning, Barry Cable focused on playing League football, and desired to prove himself in Victorian football.

At the time, North Melbourne was struggling and was not expected to become a formidable force until much later. They were wooden spooners in the 1970 season although Barry Cable won the Syd Barker medal and was fourth in the Brownlow Medal count.

Unfortunately, North Melbourne was not able to adhere to a clause in Barry Cable’s contract that required them to pay $71,000 to Perth to retain his services, which resulted in his return to Western Australia.


Barry Cable was also selected for the All-Australian team in 1966, the year that was his first of three consecutive premierships with Perth.

He also won the Simpson Medal in the three Grand Finals and wrapped up another Sandover Medal in 1968. He represented Perth in the 1969 season and then moved on to play for the North Melbourne Football Club in the VFL.

During the 1970 season, he was awarded the Syd Barker Medal, the club’s best and fairest award and then returned to his Perth side for the 1971 season.

Captain Coach

He was made captain-coach for the 1972 and 1973 seasons, during which he lifted his third Sandover Medal.

Barry Cable rejoined the North Melbourne side for the 1974 season and spent another 4 years at the club. He played a major role in the club’s premierships in 1975 and 1977.

For the 1978 season, he accepted the role of captain-coach of East Perth and announced his retirement from playing at the end of the 1979 season.

A farming accident led to injuries that cut short his playing career. However, his coaching career continued with a stint at North Melbourne in 1981 that lasted until 1984. Cable then moved as an assistant coach with the West Coast Eagles for their first five years in the VFL.

Barry Cable did not take time to adjust to his new role as captain-coach that lasted through the 1972 and 1973 seasons. In the meanwhile, Ron Barassi, the former Carlton premiership coach took over the North Melbourne side and signed on key players such as John Rantall, Barry Davis, and Dough Wade.

This made Cable fancy a return to North Melbourne for the 1974 season, when David Dench and Keith Greig were stamping their authority on the game.


The return of Barry Cable brought North Melbourne into the Grand Final, a game that they lost to Richmond. The next year, they came back a much more resilient side and defeated Hawthorn to win their first ever VFL premiership. He remained with North Melbourne until the end of the 1977 season.

Barry Cable accepted the offer of a role as captain and coach for East Perth, who went on to win the 1978 Grand Final, defeating Cable’s former club, Perth by two points. This was his sixth consecutive Grand Final, five of which were from his stint with North Melbourne.

For the Love of the Game

An unfortunate accident on his own property in Orange Grove led to a leg injury that at one stage looked like Barry Cable would never walk freely again. However, his resilience and love for the game brought him back as coach for the North Melbourne side.

He coached the team into the finals in two out of the three seasons he spent with the club. In 1983, North Melbourne were minor premiers but made an early exit in the finals.

Member of the Order of the British Empire

Barry Cable was recognized for his services to Australian football and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in December 1978. In 1986, he was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. He was the inaugural inductee into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 1996 and acquired the status of a ‘Legend’ in 2012.

A Legend

He was also inducted as a ‘Legend’ in the West Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2004, in its inaugural year. Barry Cable continued his social responsibilities with the establishment of the Community Development Foundation, a non-profit organization with the objective to assist under-privileged children.

He was appointed to the formed Aboriginal Economic Development Council by the Western Australian Minister for Commerce, Hendy Cowan in 1997.

Cable has also been involved with numerous charities and rode long-distance on bicycle across the Nullarbor Plain to toss the coin at the 1993 AFL Grand Final.

Barry Cable’s tally of seven best and fairest awards that came during his tenure with Perth is a club record that remains intact. He also has the distinction for the most number of senior-level games by a West Australia born player.

Barry Cable ended with a career of 405 games. He was the 24th footballer and just the second Indigenous footballer to be awarded Legend status, which is evidence enough of the mighty rovers control over the game during his career.

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