Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Ronald Clegg

Known as
Ron Clegg

17 November 1927

23 August 1990 (aged 62)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 17y 169d
Last game: 32y 263d

Height and weight
Height: 183 cm
Weight: 84 kg

Senior clubs
South Melbourne; Brunswick

Jumper numbers
South Melbourne: 23

Recruited from
South Melbourne (1955); North Wagga (1956); South Melbourne (1961)

Family links
Brian Clegg (Brother)

Ron Clegg

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
South MelbourneV/AFL1945-1954, 1956-19602311560.6843%121
North WaggaRivFL1955

AFL: 5,437th player to appear, 373rd most games played, 603rd most goals kickedSouth Melbourne: 636th player to appear, 19th most games played, 41st most goals kicked

Strong, courageous, solid on the ground, superb in the air, and a marvellous kick with either foot, South Melbourne's Ron Clegg was arguably one of the finest key position players ever. Winner of a Brownlow Medal in 1949 after a season spent mainly at centre half back, he was every bit as effective at centre half forward, where he fronted up against Carlton in the infamous 'Bloodbath Grand Final' of 1945, or indeed in any other key position.

From the time he made his interstate debut in 1946, his second league season, until towards the end of his career in 1960, he was a regular member of VFL representative teams, and indeed was often South's only member of such sides. Besides his 1949 Brownlow, he was runner-up to Geelong's Bernie Smith in 1951, and on three occasions was voted best and fairest player for his club.

In 1950 it looked as though his VFL career might be over when he accepted a lucrative offer to coach New Norfolk, and moved to Tasmania. South though refused to allow him a clearance, and with some reluctance he returned home. As a young married man determined to do his best by his wife, however, the prospective financial benefits accruing from an interstate or country coaching appointment continued to appeal, and in 1955 he left South again - this time with the club's blessing - to take up a coaching appointment at North Wagga.

Clegg missed the big time atmosphere of league football, however, and the 1956 season saw him back at the Lake Oval, where he spent another four seasons, two of them as captain-coach. His inability to steer the side to a premiership, or even participation in the major round, during that time was probably the greatest disappointment of his football career. Clegg's only involvement in the VFL finals had come in his debut season when, as a fresh faced seventeen year old, he might have been excused for believing that the best moments of his career still lay ahead of him. True, there were numerous individual triumphs, including the establishment of a new South Melbourne 'games played' record of 231, but football is primarily about the winning of premierships, and Ron Clegg shared with the teammate who would later overhaul that 'games played' record, Bob Skilton, the unhappy fate of being an undisputed champion who failed to achieve the ultimate.

After leaving the VFL Clegg spent the 1961 and 1962 seasons as captain-coach of Brunswick in the VFA's first division, but the side struggled both years.

Author - John Devaney


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