AFL mourns death of ‘visionary’ North Melbourne legend

The AFL and North Melbourne have paid tribute to Australian Football Hall of Fame member Allen Aylett, who has died aged 88.

Key points:

  • Aylett was both a prominent player and administrator
  • He was president of both North Melbourne and the VFL during his career
  • Aylett was an Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee in 1996

Aylett played 220 matches for North Melbourne between 1952 and 1964, serving as captain during his final four seasons with the club.

He represented Victoria and earned All-Australian selection in 1958 and 1961, while he was named in North Melbourne’s Team of the Century.

Aylett perhaps left his greatest mark on Australian rules football as an administrator.

He was North Melbourne president from 1971 to 1976 — a tenure that included the club’s first VFL premiership in 1975 — and served in the same role between 2001 and 2005.

He was VFL president from 1977 to 1984, a period in which the competition began taking steps to expand nationally, highlighted by South Melbourne’s move to Sydney.

Aylett (right) pictured with Jason McCartney in 2003.(Getty Images: Robert Cianflone)

Aylett — who was also National Football League president during his administrative career — was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1996.

“Allen Aylett is a keystone of the national competition we have today,” AFL Commission chair Richard Goyder said in a statement.

“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.

“In many ways, he was the father of the national competition and a visionary who saw the game expanding across all parts of Australia.”

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said Aylett was a “giant of our game”.

“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,” he 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 president Sonja Hood said Aylett left an “incredible legacy” at the club.

“No single individual has had a greater impact on the North Melbourne Football Club than Dr Allen Aylett,” she said.

“He was a great on-baller 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 today.”

Aylett is survived by his wife Marj and children Tony, Rick, Julie and Sam.



Author: Ivan Robinson