The AFL world is mourning the death of North Melbourne legend and long-time football administrator Dr Allen Aylett, who passed away aged 88 on Friday morning.
Aylett played 220 games for the Kangaroos from 1952-1964 and won three-straight best and fairests from 1958 to 1960, two All-Australians and captained the club for four seasons.
He’s perhaps best known for his role as a pioneering administrator for both the Kangaroos and the VFL.
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Aylett led the Roos to their first premiership as president from 1975 during a golden era for the club where he helped land Ron Barassi.
Aylett was then the chairman of the VFL from 1977-1984 and made an inaugural member of the Australian Football Hall of Fame as well as being named in the North Melbourne Team of the Century and Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
AFL commission chairman Richard Goyder labelled Aylett a “keystone of the national competition we have today”.
“His drive and ambition for the game to be as great as it could be opened new boundaries for our sport, and started the difficult but important steps to build the national competition we see today,” he said.
“Allen was a player of the very highest level – twice being part of a national carnival for Victoria and winning a Tassie Medal – as well as guiding North Melbourne to its maiden VFL premiership in 1975 when he transformed the club by appointing Ron Barassi as coach.
“In many ways, he was the father of the national competition and a visionary who saw the game expanding across all parts of Australia. Throughout his time in football his wife Marj was by his side and the competition, and the code owe Allen, Marj and the Aylett family a great and enduring debt for the decades of service he gave the game.
“On behalf of both the AFL Commission, and the wider game of football, we send our sincere condolences to Marj and the Aylett family at this very sad time.”
League chief Gillon McLachlan also paid tribute to Aylett, calling him a “giant of our game and had a vision that Australian Football should be played in every state and territory”.
“He was an innovator who continued to energetically drive change in our game and forge a path where so many Australians are today able to play and watch our game,” McLachlan said.
“He was not only one of the great ideas men in our game, but also a wonderful man whose passion for football and family knew no bounds.”
North Melbourne CEO Sonja Hood added: “No single individual has had a greater impact on the North Melbourne Football Club than Dr Allen Aylett.
“He was a great onballer through the 1950s and ‘60s and he famously presided over our first successful era in the 1970s.
“It was a source of great pride for our football club when he became President of the VFL, overseeing the first steps to building the national competition we enjoy so much today.
“He came back home to lead the club from 2001 until 2005 and ‘The Doc’ will forever be remembered as a North Melbourne Legend.
“Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
Statement from the Aylett family
Dad passed away peacefully this morning and we are grateful to have been by his side over recent days.
Dad was driven and determined, a man of integrity who was respected by so many. He was a North Melbourne man and a football man but, first and foremost, he was a passionate family man.
We are very proud of Dad‘s stellar football career both as a player and an administrator and, as a family we were always happy to share him with North and later the VFL/AFL.
It was at the end of the 1972 season that he and his mates started North on a journey to their first premiership and now, 50 years later, he was just as excited about what was to come next for the club he has loved all his life.
The game meant so much to him and will continue to mean so much to our family.
Our dad was a man ahead of his time and we will miss him terribly.
– The Aylett Family (Marj, children Tony, Rick, Julie, Sam and families)