Vale: The changing room joker who lifted spirits at four North Harbour clubs

posted in: Heritage, News, Obituary

Ron Ripley, a player who served four North Harbour clubs with more than 170 first-team appearances in the 1970s and 1980s, has died in Auckland, aged 73.

Ripley turned out for Takapuna, North Shore United, East Coast Bays and Forrest Hill-Milford, playing in the Northern League as a forward with an eye for goals, scoring 36 times.

He made 20 appearances in the Chatham Cup for Takapuna and East Coast Bays, finding the net seven times.

His former coach at Takapuna and East Coast Bays, Alan Yates, says Ripley was “a very tidy player” who was also the changing room joker, a player who lifted the spirits of others.

“A lovely man, and always good to have in the team,” Yates recalls.

Australian-born Ripley arrived in Auckland in the early 1970s, to work in the building industry, and he began his Northern League career with Takapuna in 1975.

Apart from a brief move to North Shore United in 1978, in search of a step up from Northern League to National League football, Ripley played most of his football with Takapuna and then East Coast Bays, with whom he won the 1981 Northern League first division championship.

He finished his career with a couple of seasons at Forrest Hill-Milford where he was still good enough at 39 to hold down a first-team position.

Ripley’s eldest brother, Barrie, said the family grew up close to Manly, in New South Wales, and the three boys became the first in the Manly Warringah district to play junior soccer. They all represented their local age group teams.

“In 1970, the three of us played in the same team, the only time this happened in our sporting careers. It was with the Harbord Diggers first team in the Manly Warringah all-age Division 1 and we won the competition, something that we have always been proud of.”

Devoted to his wife of many years, Diane, Ripley died in Auckland on December 13, 2022, and a private family service was held to farewell him.


We thank football historian Barry Smith for providing Ripley’s playing and goalscoring statistics.

Ripley during his playing days with Takapuna AFC, where he is pictured extreme left on the back row of this 1978 team photo, and at East Coast Bays, where he is extreme right on the front row of the championship-winning squad.

Ron Ripley (1949 — 2022)

Son of the late Keith and Olga Ripley, brother of Jeanette, Ray and Barrie. Husband to Diane, stepfather to Todd and Donna, and father to Sacha and Natalie.


Through the publication of obituaries, Friends of Football tries to recognise the loss of those who have significantly contributed to our game.

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