‘Sad day’: Victorian AFL commentator Ross Booth dead at 72

The AFL community has been rocked by the shock death of beloved football commentator Ross Booth at the age of 72.

Victorian football great and fellow commentator Phil Cleary broke the grim news, revealing Booth’s sister had told him the long-serving commentator had been found dead at his Toorak flat.

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The pair were called the VFA and then the VFL reserve grade on ABC television between 1987 and 2014.

Not only was Booth a commentary star, he had a strong career, being named in the Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA) Monash Blues Team of the Half Century in 2011. He was club captain and was named best and fairest in 1973. and 1974

Booth was also a member of the VAFA Board of Directors from 1986 to 2010, and was given life membership of the association in 2006.

Outside of football, Booth was also a respected academic and senior lecturer in economics at Monash University.

Cleary led the tributes to his former colleague, describing it as “sad news” via a Facebook post.

“I have said many times that Peter Gee and Ross Booth’s VFA grand final calls on ABC TV were as good as any AFL grand final talk produced by the commercial stations,” Cleary wrote.

“I am saddened to report that Ross’s sister informed me this week that Ross was found dead in his Toorak apartment. Living in Toorak was a running joke during our almost 30 years of calling VFA football from 1987 to 2014. I told him he was crazy and he loved it.

“I spoke at his 60th birthday over a decade ago and we had so many good times. Ironically, we first met when I was playing for Coburg Amateurs and he was a powerful midfielder for Monash Blues in the VAFA in the early 1970s.

“I will have more to say but for now let me just say that he was an urban scholar and a great football person who made football an institution in the football world. We will miss him.”

VAFA president Paul Newton said it was a “sad day for the association”.

“Ross was admired as one of the strongest competitors – both on the field, where he played more than 100 games for the University Blacks and Monash University, and off the field, where he was a board member for 25 years,” Newton said via a statement.

“Ross made a huge contribution and his service was recognized in 2003 with life membership of the association. He will be fondly remembered by all involved with the VAFA.”

Head of Monash Business School Professor Simon Wilkie said Booth would leave “an indelible mark as an educator, mentor, administrator and agitator for change in the best sense of the word”.

Footyologist reporter Rohan Connolly said it was “really sad to hear”.

“As well as being a lovely guy, Ross Booth was also part of the Sunday Age VFA coverage for many years and was great at his job. RIP Ross,” Connolly wrote.

Commenter Val Febbo tweeted: “This is so sad. Peter Donegan, Phil Cleary and Ross Booth were the voices of the VFL in my childhood. My condolences to his family.”

SEN broadcaster Damian Watson said: “Sad to hear of Ross Booth’s death. Unforgettable VFL/VFA caller, frontier rider and friendly guy.”

CODE Sports’ Paul Amy added: “So sad to learn of the passing of former top ABC commentator and leading amateur punter Ross Booth.”

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