Ray Allsopp OAM, who died on October 20, 2021 aged 87, was a courageous Richmond rover who was runner-up in the Best and Fairest, played in the 1956 Olympics exhibition footy match, created VicKick (which became AusKick), and co-founded the Waverley Softball Association.
Allsopp died peacefully in Glen Iris, his daughter Lynne said in an email to Rhett Bartlett.
A skilful ball-handler with long kicking and nippiness around the goal, Allsopp’s Tigerland career spanned 1955 – 1959, for 54 games and 59 goals.
He also played 21 Reserves games during that period, for 34 goals.
In 1957 he finished 2nd in the club’s Best and Fairest behind Roy Wright, the two making a dangerous combination throughout the season.
They both represented Victoria three times in their tour of South Australia and Western Australia that same year, with Allsopp kicking goals in every match.
Their June 29th game against W.A. was in front of 42,355 spectators, the second-largest Perth footy crowd up til then.
Allsopp also played for the All-Australian Amateur Team against Queensland at Punt Road in 1954.
But that was only the start of this contribution to football. After his Richmond career he became a central figure in the development of junior footy across Australia.
He ran the Junior Football Council of Victoria, and most importantly created VicKick - which later became AusKick - the national junior program attended by hundreds of thousands of children aged 5-12 years. The “Coach of the Year” award is named in his honour.
Allsopp was also the former editor of the Junior Football Magazine, and penned a weekly column for Inside Football, the Football Record, wrote the instructional book The Name of the Game is Australian Football, and a chapter for the first ever National Football League’s coaches manual in 1977.
But his work didn’t stop there. He was also the Resource Officer for the Victorian Football Department Foundation, in 1978 he organised a curtain raiser match between Doncaster v Footscray Combined Under 17, oversaw the Caltex Metropolitan Under 17 Championships the following year, and was an official on the 1981 schoolboys tour of Ireland where the team played in a modified form of Gaelic Football under the coaching of John Dugdale.
In March 1980, he announced that the Big M Little League was to be revamped, allowing up to 5,280 boys to play half-time games before a League crowd.
Those teams were now to be fielded from 12 different schools each week, each wearing the colours of a senior club.
“Winning is not the main aim of these teams, a fact that some people have unfortunately overlooked in the past. Picking the best side available in order to win Little League matches is completely the wrong philosophy. The League wants as many boys as possible to simply enjoy the fun and sportsmanship of having a game of football.”
In 1981, statistics released showed a 70% increase of junior football teams in metropolitan and country areas participating compared to the previous six years.
One of the main drivers was the creation of the Primary Schools Scheme, where the Junior Football Council provided $200 worth of football equipment to parents and teachers for their footy skills programs.
In 1982, he wrote about organising the rollout of emergency treatment for junior clubs and clinics.
“It usually takes one unfortunate accident for club officials to discover that adequate arrangements have not been made. Young kids should never have to wait around in severe pain while officials run around in confusion.”
In 2010 the AFL awarded him a Life Membership, and in 2017 he quite rightfully received an OAM for services to sport, in particularly with schoolchildren.
Outside of football he co-founded the Waverley Softball Association in 1961 with his father, coached the A-Grade softball teams to four premierships, and helped establish a softball venue at Jells Park.
Softball Australia called him “one of the most influential pioneers”, and whilst teaching at Glen Waverley Primary School, “his model for a school softball program was eventually adopted as part of the physical education curriculum, replacing rounders.”
Born Dec. 20, 1933, Ray played for the Richmond Cricket Club Senior XI from 1952-53 and 1959-60, where he won the club champion award. He also represented University in cricket and was a selector for the Victorian Colts XI.
His father Arthur played state cricket for Victoria and NSW where he shared a sixth-wicket stand of 180 runs with Bradman (the Don would go on to a then world-record score of 452). Arthur later was the first male inducted into the Australian Softball Federation Hall of Fame.
Before his football career at Richmond he played with Wesley College, University Blacks and the Collegians in the VAFA.
In 1956 he represented the VFL/VFA side against the VAFA in a football exhibition game played on the MCG during the Melbourne Olympics.
Allsopp also captained and coached Waverley sub-district cricket team in 1965, and coached Collegians in the VAFA , and played in Oakleigh's 1960 VFA premiership.
Ray is survived by his sister Norma (softball world champion), children Stephen, Lynne, Rodney, six grandchildren including Ashleigh who played for StKilda in the VFLW, and three great grandchildren.
A private service will be held on November 5.