William Ronald Ryan
26 November 1944 (age 78)
Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 208d
Last game: 27y 281d
Height and weight
Height: 188 cm
Weight: 87 kg
|Club||League||Career span||Games||Goals||Avg||Win %||AKI||AHB||AMK||BV|
Pre 1965 stats are for selected matches only
Recruited from Swan Hill, Bill Ryan gave Geelong sterling service over a 167-game, 10-year career from 1963 to 1972, as a back-up ruckman and most notably as a centre half-forward, before moving to Queensland where he became a driving force in the development of the Australian game on the Gold Coast.
Unable to break into the Cats 1963 premiership winning lineup, Ryan's game matured over the ensuing years and by the time of the club's next Grand Final appearance, when the team narrowly went down to Richmond in 1967, the big man had become a permanent fixture in the side. He gained a measure of celebrity in the opening round of that season when, in the dying moments of the game against Collingwood, with Geelong five points down, he took a mark 15 metres out from goal. To that point in his career Ryan had a reputation as an erratic kick for goal, so success was far from assured. As the siren sounded Ryan took his kick, the ball being smothered by the man on the mark, the Pies' Terry Waters. The drama was not over, however, as umpire Perkins decided that Waters had run over the mark, and awarded Ryan a second kick. He made no mistake and the Cats got home by a point.
Lacking pace and with an ungainly kicking style (but effective enough in front of goal where he converted at almost 60%, a creditable figure in any era), Ryan made up for any perceived deficiencies by his tremendous marking abilities. Indeed, by the late 1960s he was without question one of the best marks in the league - in one game against Hawthorn in 1968 he had a day out, pulling down 22 grabs, in addition to having 31 kicks. In 1971, the best season of his VFL career, during which he was selected for the Big V, and came fifth in the Brownlow Medal with 16 votes, he averaged over 10 marks per match, the second highest tally for the season.
In 1972 a switch into defence coincided with a slight drop off in form, and at season's end, with opportunities presenting themselves in Queensland, Ryan moved north. He joined QAFL club Coorparoo and captained Queensland in 1974 and 1975, including the famous Gabba win over Tasmania, when he kicked five goals. Ryan played a total of six games for Queensland.
Ryan finished his career in style with Southport on the Gold Coast, where he played 120 games and was involved in five premiership victories. In 1979 the big man (whose frame had expanded considerably by that time), kicked 21 goals in a match against Burleigh, proving his ability ot take a big grab and kick straight had not deserted him. His strong presence on the Gold Coast was a catalyst to the upsurge in the game there, eventually leading to the entry of the Sharks to the QAFL in 1983.
Author - Adam Cardosi