153. Ray Biffin

Player Inductee

North Launceston/Melbourne, Full Back/Full Forward, 1965-1981 

171 games, 131 goals for Melbourne 1968-79 153. Ray Biffin
42 games for North Launceston 1965-67
Melbourne VFL Reserves premiership 1970
Melbourne Leading Goalkicker 1976 (47)
Melbourne reserves coach 1979
Dandenong coach (VFA) 1980-81
Selected as one of the ‘150 Heroes of Melbourne’ (2006)

 

A bustling, rugged key position player who was at home at either end of the ground, Ray Biffin was a consistent performer for Melbourne in the VFL during the club’s dark days in the 1970’s.

Born in 1949, Biffin first played senior football with North Launceston in the NTFA, debuting for the Robins as a 15 year-old. In three seasons and 42 games with the Robins, Biffin established himself as a clearly promising young key position prospect, representing the NTFA in 1966 and playing in North’s unsuccessful Grand Final against East Launceston the following year. At the end of the 1967 season, Biffin attracted interest from a number of Victorian clubs including Fitzroy and St. Kilda, but eventually it was Melbourne who secured the services of the talented 18-year old.

Biffin made his senior debut for the Demons in Round 12 of 1968, with the Demons keen to utilise him as a full back. Unfortunately for player and club, injuries ruined the first few years of Biffin’s VFL career, with a combination of ailments – including two broken ankles – restricting him to only 18 games in his first three seasons, although he did manage to play in Melbourne’s reserves premiership victory over Richmond in 1970.

It took until 1971 for Biffin to put some consistent football together, a season in which he played 19 games and cemented himself as the Demons’ first-choice full back for the next five seasons. Workmanlike rather than spectacular, one of Biffin’s greatest claims to fame in this period was that legendary full forward Peter Hudson never managed a haul of better than four goals when opposed to Biffin, a record very few – if any – full backs of the era could match. Despite these great performances, Biffin came close to leaving in Melbourne in 1973, when he was one of a number of players who threatened to quit the club in response to the sacking of coach Ian Ridley, although he was ultimately convinced to stay. After a number of years in defence, Biffin was switched to full forward in mid-1976. The move paid dividends immediately, as Biffin booted 47 goals in his last 14 games of the season to win the Demons goalkicking award. He remained at full forward for the remainder of his career, although injuries once again hampered his career in its final years, including a mysterious stomach issue which sidelined him for seven weeks in mid-1978.

Biffin retired two games into the 1979 season and immediately took up the role as Melbourne’s reserves coach. However with the Demons decimated by injuries, Biffin was talked into playing out the season with the seniors. He did, adding another five games to his career tally to finish with 171 senior appearances for the red and the blue. A man who had always had an interest in coaching, Biffin was appointed to the role of senior coach at VFA side Dandenong in 1980 but failed to guide his team into the finals in either of his two seasons at the helm. In later years he also served as the coach of Hawthorn’s Under 19’s side for a time.