Robert Flower

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Robert Flower
Personal information
Date of birth (1955-08-05) 5 August 1955 (age 58)
Place of birth Melbourne
Original team Murrumbeena Districts
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1973–1987 Melbourne 272 (315)
1 Playing statistics correct to end of 1987 season.
Career highlights

Robert Flower (born 5 August 1955) is a former Australian rules footballer with Melbourne Football Club. His first game was against Geelong in 1973 and he captained the team from 1981 until his final game in 1987. He held the record for the number of games for his club, 272, until overtaken by David Neitz in 2006.

In a radio interview in July 2006 on the Coodabeen Champions Flower stated that the club secretary Jim Cardwell rang to offer him the number 2 guernsey before his first senior game, an unofficial statement that the club saw great potential in the seventeen-year-old.

He was a wingman for most of his career and was characterised by his ability to create space for himself and kick and handpass the ball with extraordinary accuracy. He possessed speed, sure-footedness and unrivalled tactical awareness.

In Ken Piesse's The Complete Guide to Australian Football, Flower's player summary quotes Brent Crosswell "...beat Flower and you could just about retire from League Football because anything else smacked of anti-climax." Wayne Schimmelbusch in the same publication said: "I paid more attention to Robert Flower than any other opponent."

Jim Main and Russell Holmesby mention Flower's thin physique and low playing weight—68 kilograms. It was assumed early in his career that he could not succeed because of his "wiry" frame. He sustained injuries that kept him from appearing in another 52 games but he still played 272 out of a possible 324 games and was never left out of the senior side when available.

It was not until 1987 that he played his first finals match, the last three games of his career were in the 1987 finals series. He played for the club he had supported all his life and his dedication to a team which, before his final year at least, had never looked likely to win a premiership, was commendable.

His last game was against Hawthorn in the preliminary final. It was a disappointing end to a distinguished career, his team had been leading all day and it seemed there was a real possibility that his last game could be a grand final against Carlton and a chance for their first premiership since 1964.

Melbourne were leading when the final siren blew, however a free kick with a fifteen metre penalty saw Gary Buckenara kick the winning goal after many had thought the game had finished. Flower recalls in his autobiography Robbie that he started to run from the ground and paused to see the ball go through the goal and then went to the dressing rooms where he threw a can of drink against the wall in anger. This was uncharacteristic for a man whose on field record was unblemished by reports for striking or other misconduct.

Had Melbourne won and played in the 1987 Grand Final a shoulder injury may have excluded him from the game although, considering the determination that marked Flower's career, it would have been unlikely.


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