Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Barry Thomas Cable

Known as
Barry Cable


22 September 1943 (age 79)

Place of birth
Narrogin, WA (6312)

Indigenous Australian

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 26y 194d
Last game: 34y 9d

Height and weight
Height: 168 cm
Weight: 70 kg

Senior clubs
Perth; North Melbourne; East Perth

Jumper numbers
North Melbourne: 9, 44

Recruited from
Perth (1970); North Melbourne (1971); Perth (1974); North Melbourne (1978)

State of origin

Hall of fame
Australian Football Hall of Fame (1996) Legend (2012); Western Australian Football Hall Of Fame (2004)

Family links
Shane Cable (Son)

Barry Cable

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
PerthWANFL1962-1969, 1971-19732253251.44
North MelbourneV/AFL1970, 1974-19771151331.1659%15.157.492.2473
East PerthWANFL1978-197943501.16
WANFL1962-1969, 1971-1973, 1978-19792683751.40
V/AFL1970, 1974-19771151331.1659%15.157.492.2473

Pre 1965 stats are for selected matches only

AFL: 8,215th player to appear, 1,993rd most games played, 757th most goals kickedNorth Melbourne: 621st player to appear, 109th most games played, 46th most goals kicked




You can’t miss him with his fair hair and dashing style of play. The most brilliant rover in the WANFL. Classic left footer, he uses handball constructively, and doesn’t mind how tough a game becomes. Terrific tackler for a little man.¹

In 1970, Barry Cable, having already achieved virtually everything in football that was open to him - Tassie Medal, dual All Australian status, two Sandovers, five successive club champion awards, and participation in three premiership teams - moved from Perth to North Melbourne. Former Collingwood identity Lou Richards, then a media commentator, and renowned for his 'Kiss of death' predictions, famously contended that Cable, who 'lacked pace' would end up languishing in the back pocket for North's reserves.

Cable duly added a North Melbourne best and fairest award to his list of achievements, besides running fourth in the Brownlow, while Lou Richards went on doing what he did best, and most entertainingly - shooting himself repeatedly in the foot.

The contention that Cable lacked pace was not without some justification. Certainly he was slower than some of the other great rovers of the time, like Bill Walker, Bob Skilton and Keith Doncon. However, what he may perhaps have lacked in pace he more than made up for in other areas. Few players in the history of the game have matched Cable's uncanny ability for being where the ball was. Moreover, his disposal skills by hand and foot were little short of impeccable. Small wonder he attracted the attention of umpires - for the right reason - when Sandover or Brownlow votes were being allocated.

On returning home to Perth in 1971 Cable carried on more or less where he had left off, winning yet another club fairest and best award. Two years later he did it again, and added a third Sandover for good measure.

As far as Barry Cable was concerned, there was only one major ambition remaining, and he needed to return to Victoria, and North Melbourne, in order to achieve it. That ambition, needless to say, was involvement in a VFL premiership, and in his second stint at Arden Street he managed this not just once, but twice, in 1975 and 1977.

Returning home once more in 1978 Cable surprised many observers by accepting an offer to coach East Perth. Yet again, however, it proved to be an informed decision as, after a tentative start to his coaching career, he took the Royals to the 1978 Grand Final, where they duly won a titanic tussle against, of all teams, Cable's old club, Perth. Seriously inconvenienced as he was by a strained leg muscle and a broken bone in the hand, Cable's experience and calmness were nevertheless vital during a tempestuous final term in which East Perth had to hang on for dear life, eventually scraping home by just 2 points.

Cable played on for one further season, eventually retiring after 383 senior club games (225 for Perth, 115 for North Melbourne, and 43 with East Perth). For the majority of his career he had been a genuine superstar, and if the game over its history has seen any finer rovers it would be hard to imagine them being countable on the fingers of more than one hand.

As a non-playing coach Cable experienced significantly less success than as a player, although he did at least manage to get North Melbourne into the finals in two of his three full seasons in charge during the early 1980s.

Barry Cable was catapulted back into the headlines as a sixty-three year old in July 2007 when the Western Australian Football Commission decided to retrospectively award him a Simpson Medal for his performance in Western Australia's defeat of Victoria in the inaugural state of origin match at Subiaco Oval in 1977. The decision served to reinforce Cable's status as one of the all time great players in football history as it meant that he had now won the award a record five times.

Author - John Devaney


1. “ANFC Championships Opening Day Programme”, 9/6/66, page 11.


Full Points Footy's WA Football Companion, Crème de la Crème


* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.