BORN DECEMBER 28TH 1927, he began as a junior at Radiio 3DB in Melbourne (now KIIS 101.1) and became a football commentator by the late-1940s who also called ice hockey on Tuesdays around 10 pm. It was a style of commentary hard to ignore because it gave the listener an accurate picture of the game's action and tactics in a flowing and readily listenable manner. He was still in his early-twenties and had just overcame a speech impediment to replace Eric Welsh. He became sports editor of 3DB when Welsh retired.
Ice hockey had been called on Melbourne radio as far back as the 1920s but "Case" pioneered the post-war broadcasting of the sport in 1949 with his descriptions of League games from the Glaciarium. He continued well into the 1950s, against the grain of the more popular sports, and forged a reputation as "one of the most knowledgeable commentators on the game". His interest in lesser-profile sports like ice hockey came with grassroots development help and reciprocity with the local community.
His broadcasts of local ice hockey action in the VIHA "Lightning Premierships" raised funds for The Sporting Globe-3DB Children's Hospital Appeal which ran all day Good Friday. The Appeal had started in 1931 as a sporting carnival in aid of Melbourne's hospitals and it still runs today, raising over $17 million in 2015. Others followed his interest in hockey. Phil Gibbs on Radio 3KZ broadcast League football with Jack Dyer, but he too followed into ice hockey in 1953 and quickly settled down to bright factual descriptions of game play. He drew a big audience by 1954.
In July 1948, he was first to select and publish an All-Australian Ice Hockey Team which he based on the 1947 Goodall Cup series he attended and the advice he sought "from keen students of the game". Its subtext was not winning but the importance of intensive coaching schemes in junior skill development for players with aptitude, and acknowledgement of the best player performance in each position, each season. "All-Australian teams in other sports are annual affairs," Casey said, "but we believe this is the first time that effort has been made to choose an ice hockey team".
The media exposure provided in those years by Casey, Gibbs and Stan Gray helped Australian ice hockey hit an all-time peak in popularity in the fifties. In 1984, Casey was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to sports journalism and in 1989 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to sport. He was inducted to the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1991. The Ron Casey Media Centre at Melbourne Cricket Ground is named in his honour.
1. Sporting Life magazine is usually credited with pioneering the concept of the "All-Australian Team" in 1947. An all-star team of Australian rules footballers was selected from players in various leagues in October each year by a panel chosen by the magazine.
2. Casey called the 1956 Melbourne Olympics for HSV-7, the first of 10 he covered. He also hosted World of Sport (1959-89), an institution in Melbourne television, and TV Ringside (1966-74).
Ross Carpenter, 'Casey, Ronald Patrick (1927 - 2000)', Legends of Australian Ice, Melbourne, Australia, http://icelegendsaustralia.com/legends-2/bio-casey.html, accessed online 11 November 2015.
1. The First All-Stars: bordering on the phenomenal, Ross Carpenter, Feb 2016, Online
2. Sports Novels magazine, July 1948 p 7. "All-Australian Ice Hockey Team Chosen: intensive coaching schemes improve already high standard of play" by Ron Casey.