News / Sport

Tributes flow for Brunswick sporting legend Ron Sahlberg

Sahlberg played 300 games for Brunswick Cricket Club and served as its president for 23 years

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

BRUNSWICK’S sporting community is in mourning after the death of Ron Sahlberg, one of just three people to be made a life member of both Brunswick cricket and football clubs.

Ron Sahlberg died on Monday aged 88, just days after being admitted to palliative care. He continued serving as president of Brunswick Cricket Club, a position he had held for 23 years, right up until his death, which came after a period of illness.

Sahlberg’s association with Brunswick began in 1956, and he played 300 matches for the club over 30 years, including 122 with the first XI. He also captained two premiership winning third XI teams. After retiring from the playing field, he continued serving Brunswick as an administrator, including a long stint as president which began in 1999.

The Sahlberg-Swanson Medal awarded to Brunswick’s best-and-fairest is named after him.

Tributes have flowed since Sahlberg’s death was announced on Tuesday, led by Ken Hilton, the CEO/Secretary of the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association, of which Sahlberg was a life member.

“Ron was an amazing person and his contribution to the Brunswick Cricket Club and community sports in the Brunswick area was outstanding,” Hilton wrote on Tuesday.

Brunswick’s head coach Karl Mayne said on Facebook that Sahlberg was “a wonderful man. His passion for the club will be sorely missed”. 

“I hope he’s proud of the club he has built. I’ll be forever grateful for our time together.”

Brunswick senior men’s captain Liam Murphy, who is also CEO of Cricket Victoria, said Sahlberg was “a true gentlemen who will be missed”.

The following obituary has been written by Tim Lumsden, a long-time player and committee member at Brunswick Cricket Club (first published by the VSDCA):

When a local boy by the name of Ron Sahlberg spent his Saturday afternoons watching the Brunswick Cricket Club play during the 1940’s, little did anyone realize that this laid the foundations for what would become a truly amazing 60 plus year relationship with a club he loves and a community he serves. 

Commencing his senior cricket career in 1949 with the Fitzroy cricket club, Ron joined Brunswick in 1956 at the insistence of good friend and Brunswick Club legend Dave Cranston. So began a 30 year playing career that included well over 300 games. Highlights included 122 1st XI games and being captain of two 3rd XI premiership teams. 

Ron’s appreciation of the importance of contributing both on and off the field was evident with him joining the committee in 1964. When Ron retired from the field, his involvement off the field expanded. Serving the Club as Chairman of selectors, vice-president, and VSDCA club delegate before becoming President in 1999, a position he has held continuously to this very day.  Ron has undertaken each position with an equal level of passion, pride and unconditional commitment.

It is in the last 20 years under Ron’s leadership, that this proud community club has seen it embrace so many and diverse opportunities. When Ron commenced his playing career the club consisted of four senior men’s teams. Today it has 7 senior men’s teams, 1 senior ladies’, fifteen junior boys’ teams, 3 junior girls’ teams, a Craig Shield representative team and the recent addition of an all-abilities team. 

Ron’s ability to acknowledge community needs along with his trademark respectful leadership style and his welcoming nature has been instrumental in this transformation.  In Ron’s eyes anyone should be allowed to play cricket for Brunswick and everyone playing or not is welcome to enjoy the Club.

Other achievements in Ron’s lifetime commitment to the Brunswick Cricket Club includes the building of the sports club, the redevelopment of the ground, and the current upgrade of the AR Glenn grandstand and upgrade to the sports club. Both the cricket club and Brunswick Community Sports Club, which encompasses the cricket, football and netball clubs, have also greatly benefitted from the positive relationships that Ron has developed with the Moreland Council over the journey.

Ron’s amazing contribution to the local sporting landscape is not just confined to the Brunswick Cricket Club. In his younger days he represented the now defunct Brunswick Baseball Club with distinction. His career highlight was being selected to captain a state representative team against South Australia. When Ron’s son, Peter, joined the Brunswick Football Club, Ron involved himself as the team manager. He continued to actively involve himself for many years culminating in him receiving life membership. He is one of only three people to be a life member of both the football and cricket clubs.

A celebration of Ron Sahlberg’s life will be held at Gillon Oval on Thursday, March 31, beginning at 11am.