DOB: 5 August 1955
Died: 2 October 2014
From: Murrumbeena Districts
Captain: 1981 - 1987
Best and Fairest - 1977
Leading Goalkicker - 1979, 1983, 1987
All Australian - 1980, 1983
Life Member - 1981
150 Heroes selection
Team of the Century - Winger
Victorian state player - 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982 1983 - 15 games
Victorian captain - 1982 vs Western Australia, 1983 vs Western Australia
AFL Life Member
Australian Football Hall of Fame member
MFC Hall of Fame - 2001
Best First Year Player - 1973
Australian International Rules representative - 1984
The frail, short-sighted Flower was nobody's vision of a superstar footballer, but rose through the ranks to become one of Melbourne's greatest players. Brent Crosswell said: "...beat Flower and you could just about retire from league football because anything else smacked of anti-climax."
It took persistence to get to Melbourne in the first place. He was rejected by the club he'd supported his whole life numerous times, before finally being offered a trial with the Fourths in 1971. A clearance dispute with junior side Murrumbeena meant he wasn't allowed to play that season, finally pulling on the red and blue the following year. Just over 12 months later he was a senior player, in a year where he'd also played for Melbourne High School.
The supremely skilled Flower was doomed to play in a string of poor teams, but was courageous to a fault, demonstrating total commitment to Melbourne's cause, and suffering a number of injuries as a result. He was also supremely loyal. Unlike other Demon stars like Stan Alves and Greg Wells, who moved to other clubs and won premierships, Flower played his entire career at Melbourne.
Despite his regular injury issues, he played every week when available from 1974, winning his only Best and Fairest in 1977. He finished second four times more times before 1983, and was third in the 1979 Brownlow Medal.
In 1980 Flower played with trouble from a dislocated shoulder but still appeared in every game. At the end of the season he captained Victoria in a one-off exhibition game against the Rest of Australia. Flower was in charge of Victoria for an official State of Origin game in 1982, the first Demon to receive the honour since Ron Barassi in 1961.
Flower played 21 of 22 games in 1984 despite treatment to relieve the pressure on a nerve in his back which restricted acceleration in his legs. The injury forced him out of a state match against Western Australia where he would have again captained the state.
Midway through 1986 Flower decided he would retire at the end of the year but John Northey convinced him to play one more season. Northey put him on a special pre-season training regime, giving Flower the chance to get his body right for one last crack at playing in September. The club even used his in a campaign to raise money for a "player acquisition fund", running newspaper advertisements asking fans to donate and "Give Robbie Flower one last chance to play in a final''
The Flower-inspired recruiting drive helped buy players like Earl Spalding, Warren Dean and Todd Viney, and the Demons won their last five games to sneak into the final five for the first time since 1964. Had it not been for the remarkable last-day-of-the-season sequence of events that landed the Demons he may have ended his career as the greatest player never to appear in a final. He'd also missed captaining that year's night premiership while recovering from a broken finger.
Having waited so long for a final, Flower played in a pair of enormous wins, over North Melbourne and Sydney, on the way to a Preliminary Final showdown with Hawthorn.
The Hawks goalled after the siren to win, but even if Melbourne had won Flower would likely have missed the Grand Final. Earlier in the game he'd suffered a shoulder injury after being collected by Robert DiPierdomenico. After painkilling injections he returned in the last quarter but the injury would have likely been too severe to play the following week, ending his career.
Flower held the club games record until overtaken by David Neitz in 2006. During his career he played in just 88 wins, and 184 losses.
Newspapers reported that Melbourne tried to coax him into playing again in 1988 with a huge contract offer but Flower turned them down, citing years of wear and tear to his body. He remained close to the club, serving in a coaching role during 1991.
When the merger with Hawthorn was proposed in 1996 Flower, along with Brian Dixon, was one of the strongest voices against the union. He later served on the board in 2002 and 2003, elected as part of Gabriel Szondy's Team Vision ticket. Flower received the most votes of any candidate with 10,529. In 2004 he resigned from the board while battling heart disease. In 2006 he was still having heart troubles, and fans were urged to show support for him and the Heart Foundation, by wearing red to the Round 5 game against Geelong.
After getting a start in the field from then club President Wayne Reid, owner of Melbourne Sports Depot, Flower became the founder and co-owner of the Sportsco chain of stores.
Flower's brother Tom played 26 games between 1977 and 1979. In 2002 Flower's son Bradley played with Sandringham with a view to being picked up by the Demons with a father/son selection but was never selected.