The Sydney Swans, and the football world as a whole, is mourning the passing of Bloods Champion, Barry Round.

We are joined in mourning by his local club Warragul, the Western Bulldogs, and Williamstown – all clubs where he played not only with distinction, but with a deep sense of affection from teammates, opponents, administrators, and spectators.

While he was a champion player, which is highlighted below, and much admired as Bernie Quinlan said, the reality is he was one of the few players who was universally loved. Not just at the clubs at which he played, but across the entire AFL world.

Barry was nothing if not durable. He joined Footscray (now Western Bulldogs) as a 17 year old, and between 1969-75 played 135 senior games with the Bulldogs.

In 1976 he moved to South and between 1976-85 played 193 games with South Melbourne/Sydney. From 1986-91 he coached and played for Williamstown in the VFA. He retired at 41 with a lazy 438 senior games in all to his credit.

Barry was captain of the Swans from 1980-84. He captained the club to the night premiership in its first year as Sydney in 1982. He won the Club Best and Fairest (now known as the Bob Skilton Medal) in 1979/81 and was second in 1976 and third in 1977.

In 1981 he tied with one of his oldest mates from Footscray, Bernie Quinlan, in the Brownlow Medal. Barry had a strong record in the Brownlow, finishing 4th in 1979 and 6th in 1982.

In 2003, he was selected in the South Melbourne/Sydney Team of the Century as first ruck. He was an inaugural inductee into the Swans Hall of Fame in 2009 and elevated to Bloods Champion in 2022.

Aged 36, Barry moved to the Williamstown Seagulls in the VFA, as captain coach. He had immediate success, taking the club to a premiership in his first year. He repeated this achievement in 1990. He was an inaugural inductee into the Seagulls Hall of Fame in 2014 and simultaneously was made a Legend.

Between 1987-89 he won three consecutive Callahan Medals as Williamstown’s Best and Fairest. Along the way in 1987, at 37, he won the Liston Medal to go with his Brownlow. Aged 40 he won the Norm Goss Medal as best on ground in the 1990 VFA Grand Final and was selected as first ruck in the club’s Team of the Century. Meanwhile, Barry’s son David won the B+F in 1999.

He played five times for Victoria (VFL) and represented the VFA on four occasions.

And fittingly was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 2001.

For much of his career, Barry’s role was first ruck. While at 193cm (6’4’’) he was not particularly tall relative to many of his opponents, his bulk (he played at up to 108kg) made him virtually unbeatable at boundary throw-ins or in contested marking situations. At bounce-downs his athleticism and judgement made him consistently one of the dominant ruckmen in both the VFL and VFA. His extraordinary anaerobic capacity was often underrated. Later in his career at Sydney he often played at centre-half forward. He kicked a highly respectable 157 goals for the club.

From a Swans point of view, Barry embodied everything the club wanted and needed. He was highly competitive but scrupulously fair, he had great leadership qualities and became a mentor to many emerging players. He was eternally positive and had a one liner or a humorous anecdote for any circumstance. Most of all, Barry loved playing football, being in the company of former teammates, current players, and supporters from all walks of life.

There is, however, a role he played that forever changed the club and laid the foundations for a national competition and gave the game in NSW a giant fillip. With Mark Browning, his loyal vice-captain, they convinced the players that the relocation to Sydney was the only option. Virtually every player bought in based on their belief in Barry and Mark’s judgement. And the rest, as they say, is history.

In 1994, to honour the pioneers who brought the club to Sydney in 1982, we named the Best Clubman award after Barry. In perpetuity it is to be known as the Barry Round Best Clubman Award.

Apart from a couple of periods of ill health, Barry was always on hand to present the award. He was always so positive about the recipient of the award. And his message generally was what great shape the club was in and how lucky we all are to be part of it.

The club extends its deepest condolences to Barry’s partner Jenni, his children David and Natalie, his grandchildren, and his extended family.