Matthew Lloyd was born in Melbourne in 1978 to parents John (a former VFL footballer who played 29 games for the Carlton Football Club from 1965–1967) and Bev Lloyd. The Lloyds moved to Scotland for three years because of John's work, and it was there that Matthew picked up rugby and soccer playing for his Currie club.
Lloyd was drafted into the AFL as a 16-year-old in the 1995 Pre-season Draft as a "compensatory selection" that was awarded to Essendon by the AFL in return for losing Todd Ridley to the newly formed Fremantle Football Club. The Bombers picked up what would be one of their all-time greats for a relative pittance in the draft. Lloyd was heralded as a future football star after his AFL debut in Round 14, 1995, where he scored a goal with his first kick in league football and three for the match.
The key features of Lloyd's game were his powerful marks on the lead (particularly overhead), his use of his body in a defensive capacity and accurate goal kicking, particularly from set shots on his left foot. He converted a large majority of set shots inside the 50-metre arc and kicked further than 50 metres on a regular basis.
Lloyd was known for his ritual when taking set shots at goal. Almost every time he took time to go far back on the mark, pull both his socks up, then grab some grass and throw it into the air to measure the wind and take a very long run up before kicking. In 2006, the AFL introduced a "shot clock" to limit the amount of time that players had to take set shots; although Lloyd's ritual was not the longest in the league its quirks made it so well known that the rule became commonly known as the "Lloyd Rule". Lloyd adjusted his ritual to fit into the new rule, and still retained the most famous aspect (throwing grass) until the end of his career.
Lloyd's goalscoring ability enabled him to top the Essendon goal scoring every year from 1997 to 2009, except for 2006 when he only played three games due to a serious hamstring injury.
Lloyd was selected in the All-Australian team on five occasions (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003), won the Coleman Medal for kicking the most goals in the regular season three times (2000, 2001 and 2003) and twice kicked more than 100 goals in a completed season (109 in 2000 and 105 in 2001; on both occasions he reached the milestone during the finals).
Lloyd was a member of Essendon's 2000 premiership team and was captain of Essendon from 2006 to 2009. He was recognised for his achievements at Essendon in 2002 when he was ranked the 22nd greatest player ever to play for the club in the "Champions of Essendon" list.
Lloyd was appointed Essendon captain ahead of the 2006 season, after James Hird elected to stand down following the side's disappointing 2005 season. Lloyd's first match as Essendon captain resulted in a 27-point win over the defending premiers Sydney, where he kicked eight goals (six of them in the first quarter alone). It would be the only win that Essendon would enjoy under Lloyd's captaincy until exactly a year later.
As well as being the top all-time goal scorer, captain and life member at Essendon, Lloyd's club honours include a premiership medallion in 2000.
During Essendon's 1996 preliminary final against the Sydney Swans in Sydney, Lloyd ruptured his spleen. He suffered a large amount of blood loss and spent 10 days in intensive care in a Sydney hospital.
In Round 6, 2002 against Fremantle, Lloyd ruptured a tendon in his right ring finger when it was caught in his opponents guernsey. It required surgery to be reattached and he was out for eight weeks.
Midway through the third quarter of the Essendon vs Bulldogs match on 16 April 2006 (which happened to be Lloyd's 28th birthday), opponent Brian Harris accidentally fell on Lloyd as he tried to mark the ball. Lloyd walked off the ground with the aid of trainers and did not return for the rest of the match. Following scans, a week later it was revealed that the hamstring tendon had been snapped off the bone. Surgery to repair the career-threatening injury took place which ruled him out for the rest of the season. Lloyd's absence from the team was felt hard, as the Bombers finished near the foot of the ladder at season's end. As Lloyd was captain of Essendon and was unable to play for the remainder of the season (his first year in fact), David Hille was promoted to team captain in Lloyd's absence.
Lloyd made a successful comeback against Adelaide at AAMI Stadium in Round 1, 2007. He kicked two goals while working further up the ground, putting to rest any concerns about his injured hamstring. Essendon beat Adelaide by 31 points.
In Round 20, 2007, Lloyd kicked a backheel goal whilst surrounded by opponents and was awarded the 2007 Goal of the Year.
In Round 18 against the Melbourne Demons, Lloyd took a specky of a mark above five players to win the 2008 Mark of the Year. A haul of eight goals in that match gave Lloyd his best return since Round 1, 2006.
In Round 3, 1999, Lloyd, aged just 21 at the time, kicked a record 13 goals against the Sydney Swans at the MCG, kicking the first goal of the game and breaking John Coleman's record for most goals kicked by an Essendon player against the Swans.
In his first game as Essendon captain, Lloyd kicked eight goals (six in the first quarter against his opponent, Leo Barry), also playing against the Sydney Swans. He kicked a total of 69 goals playing against the Swans, including the aforementioned 13 in 1999 and eight in the first round of the 2006 season.
In Round 22, 2009 Lloyd hit Hawthorn's Brad Sewell with a heavy bump that left Sewell unconscious and with facial injuries, and led to a brawl between the two teams. In the bitter aftermath of the match, Hawthorn's Campbell Brown called Lloyd "one of the biggest snipers in the game" and said that "his time is coming",. Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson threatened Lloyd and abused an interchange steward and had to be restrained by Hawthorn football manager Mark Evans as the teams left the field. AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou defended Lloyd's reputation, Clarkson was fined for his comments and later apologised for the outburst.
Lloyd was given a six-match suspension by the match review panel for the hit on Sewell, but was suspended for four matches after deciding not to appeal the sanction. Lloyd only served one match of his suspension, Essendons Elimination final loss to Adelaide at AAMI Stadium, before announcing his retirement.
On 23 September 2009, Lloyd announced his retirement to a packed media conference at the Essendon Football Club Hall of Fame. Although he had been offered another contract, Lloyd said that "now is my time from a physical and mental point of view" and that he would "...prefer to go a year too early than a year too late."
To celebrate Lloyd's career, the Coventry End of Docklands Stadium has been renamed the Lloyd End for Essendon home games.
In 2009, Lloyd was appointed assistant coach at the AIS-AFL Academy however he ruled out applying for an AFL coaching position.
In 2006 Lloyd had a weekly spot as a panelist on Fox Footy's White Line Fever and after being forced to spend extended time off the field because of injury, he became recognised for his informative views on all things football – his roles included being a special comments commentator on Triple M's football coverage as well as more regular appearances on The AFL Footy Show, as a panelist.
In 2009 Lloyd appeared as a regular panelist on a new show, One Week at a Time, as well as doing special comments on Network Ten and writing a regular column for The Age newspaper. Following his retirement Lloyd has been heavily involved in the media.
Lloyd signed with the Network Ten AFL team as an expert commentator for the 2010 and 2011 AFL seasons on Channel Ten and One HD (he had already provided special commentary during various matches of the 2009 AFL season for the network), until Ten Sport lost the rights at the end of the 2011 AFL season. He also worked for radio station SEN, was a co-host of The Game Plan on One HD during 2011 and continued working for The Age.
Lloyd's autobiography (co-authored with Andrew Clarke), Straight Shooter, was released in July 2011.
Lloyd's parents are John and Bev Lloyd. John Lloyd played 29 games for Carlton from 1965–1967 and coached the Braybrook Football Club to three premierships. The family moved to Scotland for three years because of John Lloyd's work and it was there that Lloyd played rugby and soccer his Currie club.
On 9 November 2002, Lloyd married his childhood sweetheart, Lisa-Marie Caparello, usually known as "Lisa", at Xavier College Chapel. Their wedding was covered by New Idea magazine and a documentary of the day, titled One Day In November, was also aired on Fox Footy Channel. Lisa Lloyd appeared on The Footy Show's singing competition, Screamers, in 2005 and was also a regular presenter on Fox Footy's Living With Footballers.
The Lloyds have three children; Jaeda Ruby (born December 2006), Kira Grace (born September 2009) and Jacob Matthew (born November 2012).