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Alistair Lord – Former Australian Rules Brownlow Medal Winner

As we move forward in time and history in our examination of the footballers who have earned Brownlow Medals, we are arriving at a period where some of the winners are still amongst us, so we find it necessary to say only nice things, lest we earn a thumping for making unkind comments, and also since it have never been in our nature to disparage footballers who have made major contributions.

Lord Alistair

Such is the case, as of 2015 at least, with the 1962 Brownlow Medal winner, Alistair Lord (9 April 1940), the Geelong Cat who contributed much to his side during his eight season tenure, including a performance in the 1963 VFL Grand Final that will not soon be forgotten.

With the voting system used at the time, he received 28 votes, leaving three players well in his wake with 19 votes and many even further down the list were former or future Brownlow medalists.

Right there, that was two nice things about Messr. Lord and the third we would like to include is that he received the Carji Greeves Medal as the Geelong Football Club’s Best and Fairest in 1963. He very possibly deserved more, but very generously shared the ground and the footy with the 1963 and 1964 Greeves Medal winner, the incomparable Australian, Geelong and West Perth Team of the Century member, Polly Farmer.

Here, then, is a bit more about the life and times of Alistair Lord and his playing days in the VFL.

Alistair Lord Debut

Lord made his senior VFL debut in round three against Richmond on 9 May 1959 on the Tigers’ home Punt Road oval. The Cats won that game, but Lord did not play any role in goal kicking. The side did not have a good season, winning only five times against 13 losses. Lord must have experienced some issues, either injury or poor-play related, because after appearing in round four and five, a win against Fitzroy and a loss to Essendon, he was not on the ground for the remainder of the season. Neither did he score any goals.

The following 1960 season was another matter entirely. He participated in every match save round 10, kicking 19 goals, one or more in every match save rounds seven, eight and 18. It would prove to be his high water mark for goal kicking in his career. The side did not fare much better than it had in 1959, winning six, drawing one and losing 11 to wind up ninth on the 12-team ladder.

Geelong and Alistair Lord did gain a bit of traction, however, and saw their fortunes improve in 1961. They won 10 times, had one draw and seven losses, moving up to sixth position on the 12-team ladder. Lord’s goal kicking declined from 19 the previous season to 12, but his play as a centreman was receiving some notice to the extent that he earned his first five Brownlow Medal votes.

Geelong’s Best Season 1962

Building on their momentum the Cats had their best season in some time in the 1962 season. They concluded the home-and-away season with 14 victories and four losses, moving all the way up to second on the ladder, tied with Melbourne but finishing just ahead on percentage and points, the result of leading the VFL in points for and ending up fourth in points against to gain entry into the finals. They lost their semifinal match against the Essendon Bombers, but were not eliminated.

They fought to a draw the following week against Carlton Football Club before losing the replay by the scant margin of five points. That margin would not have existed at all had not Doug Wade, taking a strong mark right in front of the goals, been penalised for interfering with a Carlton player.

The Geelong Cats had the leading goalkicker in Doug Wade, who had 62 in the home-and-away season and six in the final series. Alistair Lord was the Brownlow Medal winner far and away, as well as the club’s Best and Fairest.

All that achieving paid major dividends in 1963. Geelong finished second on the ladder with 13 wins, four losses and one draw, tied in points with Hawthorn and being relegated to second on percentage, even though defensively they allowed fewer points than any other team in the league. Lord had 11 goals for the season, but the officials apparently thought he was no longer as good or as gentlemanly as he had been the previous season, granting him only five Brownlow votes.

Geelong was better than the Hawks in the second semifinal, but when Hawthorn squeaked by Melbourne by nine points in the preliminary final, they gained entry to the Grand Final against Geelong. Round seven had seen the two teams battle to a draw on Geelong’s ground, but the Cats went into the Hawks Glenferrie Oval in round 18 and won rather convincingly.

Over 100,000 footy fans were present on 5 October 1963 to witness the Grand Final. The first quarter was quite tight, with Hawthorn gaining a slight advantage. From that point, Geelong asserted itself and outplayed the Hawks in the next three quarters to win by a convincing 49 point margin.

Twin Brothers Side By Side

Playing alongside his twin brother Stewart, who played for five seasons with the Cats, Alistair Lord kicked two goals, certainly the most important of his career, especially given that these two were well ahead of his career average of 0.65.

Alistair Lord played three seasons beyond 1963. Geelong performed well, but could not get past Collingwood in the 1964 preliminary final after getting the upper hand against the Bombers in the semifinal. The Geelong side was respectable again in 1965. Lord himself had some injury issues, appearing only 10 times after not playing in the first five rounds and missing the finals where Essendon had their way with Geelong by a 52 point margin.

Alistair Lord returned for his final season in 1966. He and his teammates did well enough to go into the final series, but it was Essendon getting the better of them once again to put an end to any Grand Final aspirations.

He finished having played in 122 games, kicking 79 goals, respectable figures. He was only 26 when he left the game. He returned to his rural roots on the family farm at Cobden, a small some 200 kilometres southwest of Melbourne.

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