If any past player can truly be said to be at the heart of the Melbourne Football Club, John Lord would have to come close. From his playing days to his role as an MCC Tour Guide, and many seasons spent working behind the scenes with the club’s Past and Present Players’ and Officials’ Association, he gave more than half a century to the game at the highest level. His passing early today has taken one of the game’s great characters from us.

Despite originally being on Geelong’s radar, Melbourne heard about the younger Lord, whose father had also played for Melbourne – and invited him to play with the Under 19s, thereby forging the red and blue bond.

Lord’s first season at Melbourne – 1956 – was interrupted by National Service. However, he played in a premiership side with the Seconds, placing him in good stead for further achievement in 1957.

This, of course, was the start of great things. Playing at centre half-back in the triumphant Grand Final side, Lord was one of the best players on the day, hailed in the club’s Annual Report with the comment that ‘John Lord, another grand young player, showed by his marking and his strong straight-ahead play that he is to be reckoned with.’

Absent for the 1958 Grand Final loss to Collingwood, Lord went on to play in the 1959 premiership, but really came of age in 1960, when he played every game, won an Outstanding Service Trophy and again attracted praise in the club’s annual report, with the comment being made that:

‘John had his best year in the ruck, and in the grand final was best afield at centre-halfback. John seems certain to hold this position down for many years, and should be a serious contender for the State team in 1961.’

While Melbourne’s embarrassment of riches during this era meant that Lord missed State selection – only two were selected from each side at this time – he continued to be integral to the team’s success during the early 1960s, despite battling a severe shoulder injury suffered in the 1963 Preliminary Final loss to Hawthorn.

In 1964, Lord played in his fourth premiership side with Melbourne, and was again praised for his contribution to the club, with comments noting that:

‘Led by a magnificent captain in Ron Barassi, who has been ably supported by Frank Adams, Brian Dixon and John Lord, players with years of experience behind them, the team deserves the highest praise that can be given.’

Made a Life Member of the Melbourne Football Club at the end of 1965, Lord hung up his boots with 132 games and 80 goals to his credit. Always a distinctive figure with his bald head and wearing No. 4 for his entire career, he also had a diverse role to play throughout. Mostly to be found in defence, Lord also favoured playing at centre half-forward, and was known for his marking skills and goal kicking ability.

John Lord was part of a memorable era in the game, and played a huge role in maintaining connections, both during his career and in retirement. To honour this giant of the Melbourne Football Club, the team will be wearing black armbands in an upcoming game. We offer our sincere condolences to John’s family, to his many friends, and to the wider sporting community, of which he was such an integral part.

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