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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Melbourne Demon great Robbie Flower passed away on October 2 after a brief illness. Flower, 59, underwent heart surgery earlier in the year. The club, and many in the football community, were deeply saddened by the announcement of his passing. SEN on air personality Mark Fine announced several times on air of tragic news from Melbourne but did not elaborate until it was confirmed out of respect for the family. Many have remarked on the constant tragedies that seem to strike the club. Several years ago, young defender Troy Broadbridge was killed in a tsunami while on his honeymoon. The club lost Jim Stynes to cancer two years ago and fellow Irish recruit Sean Wight also passed away from cancer in 2011.

Former teammates Todd Viney, David Neitz and Steven Smith paid rich tribute to Flower outside the MCG, just a few yards away from the recently unveiled statue of Stynes. All spoke of Flower's humility, skill and the legacy he left behind. Flower, Stynes and Wight were all members of the famous 1987 Demons side that made the Finals for the first time since 1964. The theme at Melbourne that year was to "do it for Flower" in the last season of his outstanding career. Smith, the Demons fullback who played all his career in the same team as Flower, said his old teammate's death was devastating.

Flower, nicknamed Tulip because of his slender physique, was also remembered for a wicked sense of humor. Club games record holder David Neitz said that when he was on the verge of overtaking Flower's games record, Flower told him he had the voodoo doll out to stick pins in Neitz's hamstrings. Neitz said that while Flower was proud of holding the record, he was happy to see Neitz break it.

AFL Hall of Fame Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said his death was a tremendous shock to everyone. "Australian Football ... was the richer for having had Robert Flower grace our game with his skills ... Robert was an outstanding individual who epitomized so many of the qualities that we laud in our greats ... dignity, humility, loyalty and strength of character. Robert was a greatly respected opponent on the field and revered among those who represented Melbourne. Robert constantly sought to guide his club through many lean years, and never once thought that anything other than the Red and Blue would be his home. His greatness on the field is measured by the fact ... he was one of the inaugural 136 inductees into the Australian Football Hall of Fame ... in 1996. Beyond his wonderful skills and his courage, Flower was a man apart from many players for his wonderful humility, and football was privileged that Robert Flower played our game."

ROBERT FLOWER
Games: 272, 1973-87
Goals: 315
Played 15 games for Victoria, kicking 18 goals
Melbourne Best and Fairest 1977
Melbourne leading goalkicker 1979, 1983, 1987
Melbourne captain 1981-87
All Australian 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984
Melbourne Team of the Century (wing)

NOTE: Other tributes can heard at sen.com.au by clicking the audio link at the top of the home page, then scrolling down the audio menu and clicking on the relevant audio item. There are interviews with Hawk great Robert DiPierdomenico and Bulldog champion Doug Hawkins and former Demon and current SEN personality David Schwarz. Clips of Flower in action can be seen at You Tube.

Source: theage.com.au, Patrick Keane, AFL Media Release

Article last changed on Wednesday, October 08, 2014 - 5:32 AM EDT


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