Former Melbourne Demons coach and Adelaide Crows senior assistant coach Dean Bailey has died, aged 47, after losing his battle with cancer.
CROWS senior assistant coach Dean Bailey died this morning.
Bailey, 47, was diagnosed with cancer — that filled one of his lungs — in December.
Adelaide Football Club players, coaches and staff gathered at their West Lakes headquarters at 9.30am today to learn of his death.
ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS: MARK ROBINSON’S TRIBUTE TO BAILEY
GALLERY: DEAN BAILEY’S CAREER IN PICTURES
LEAVE YOUR TRIBUTE TO DEAN BAILEY BELOW
Melbourne co-captain Jack Grimes and teammates Jack Trengove and Colin Garland have paid tribute to Dean Bailey, speaking candidly about Bailey’s influence on their AFL careers.
The news of Bailey’s death will be met with shock and sadness around the AFL community where Bailey was admired as one of the game’s much-loved men and sharpest tacticians.
Bailey first learned of his predicament after becoming acutely ill late last year before doctors identified his condition as a cancer in the chest area.
Despite being on indefinite leave, Adelaide’s strategy and innovation coach continued to play a role at the club, inspiring the players with visits between treatments.
The Adelaide Football Club today paid tribute to Dean Bailey recognising he had battled “cancer with his usual resilience and positive attitude”.
Adelaide Crows Chief Executive Steven Trigg and coach Brenton Sanderson reflect on the life of Dean Bailey, who died on Tuesday morning.
Adelaide chief executive Steven Trigg remembered Bailey as “a hard-working, family man.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Dean’s wife, Caron and children Darcy and Mitchell,” Trigg said.
“They know that the entire Crows family is here to help and offer support.”
“Few understood the game of football better than Dean.
“He often told how he gained most pleasure from teaching and helping young men become better players and more importantly, better people.
“Dean’s dry sense of humour also provided many priceless moments.
“His influence stretches far beyond the Adelaide Football Club, given his involvement in the game across three states.”
The club is deeply saddened by the passing of former player and assistant coach Dean Bailey. Our thoughts are with the Bailey family.
mdash; Essendon FC (@EssendonFC) March 10, 2014
He became a real father figure for myself and we will miss him dearly R.I.P Bails
mdash; Brent Moloney (@Beamnation3) March 10, 2014
Adelaide chairman Rob Chapman last saw Bailey on Sunday and described his death at 47 as “bloody sad … and unfair”.
Chapman worked closely with Bailey to defend the Crows assistant coach last year when he faced sanctions from the AFL in the Melbourne “tanking” saga of 2009.
“From those walks along the beach to the nights we’d shared a glass of wine, I learned a lot about football from Dean,” Chapman said. “I will treasure those times.
“Dean had a great sense of humour and a great sense of family.
“He also wanted to achieve so much with the Adelaide Football Club. He leaves us to fulfil those dreams — and with us all remembering his part in making the club stronger and better.”
Herald Sun AFL writer Mark Robinson has paid his respects to the late Dean Bailey, remembering the former Demons coach as one of the game’s greatest minds.
His passion and dry humour made him a popular figure around West Lakes.
Last month, after it was confirmed that Bailey had returned to hospital, Brodie Smith said the players’ thoughts were constantly with him.
“It’s just a sad and unfortunate event,’’ Smith said.
“He’s such a great coach and such a good guy around the club.”
Some of the players and coaches shaved their heads as a token of support when Bailey was undergoing chemotherapy.
Port Adelaide veteran Kane Cornes has described Dean Bailey as “a really great footy person’’ who played an integral role in the club’s historic 2004 premiership.
Cornes said he was “shocked’’ by Bailey’s tragic passing and that “everyone at the club is really feeling it today’’.
“He was such a huge part of our premiership side,’’ Cornes said.
“He was a really great footy person, really smart and had one of the best sense of humours you are ever likely to come across.
“The best thing about footy is the people you get to meet and spend time with and he was one of those people I stayed in contact with.
“I’m in shock about how sudden it’s all been and he certainly won’t be forgotten.’’
Bailey’s career in AFL football began as a player in the Essendon midfield in 1986. He played 53 senior games until his retirement in 1992. He then turned to coaching with outstanding credentials as one of the game’s deepest thinkers and calmest men in high-pressure matches.
Bailey left Essendon — where he was a development coach — to be a vital part of Port Adelaide’s 2004 AFL premiership triumph as an assistant coach for Mark Williams. Late in the 2007 season, Bailey was appointed Melbourne’s senior coach — a demanding job he kept for 83 games before his departure midway through the 2011 season.
Bailey returned to Adelaide in October 2011 to be the senior member of rookie coach Brenton Sanderson’s panel at West Lakes.
With Andrew Capel
Fox Sports correspondent Tom Wilson reflects on the career of the late Dean Bailey, who lost his battle with cancer on Tuesday.