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Garry ‘Bull’ Baker remembers his Melbourne Demons teammate Robbie Flower

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HE was his teammate, he was his captain and he was the most brilliant footballer he played with — but most of all Robbie Flower was Garry “Bull” Baker’s close friend.

Baker, a well-known Hobart restaurateur and now owner of Salamanca’s Rockwall, spent nine seasons playing alongside Flower, the former Melbourne star who passed away suddenly last Thursday, aged 59.

“He was a close friend,” Baker said yesterday. “He was a guy you could never have a bad word about.”

On Monday Baker will farewell his mate at a memorial service at the MCG.

Flower, a beautifully balanced, skilful player on either side, won the 1977 Demons best and fairest and Baker the following year. Baker was also vice-captain under captain Flower in 1981.

“He was just a pure person and you would never hear him say a bad word about anyone. He was a good bloke,” Baker said.

“Players did get bashed in the ’70s and some players got told by the players to go out and bash but I don’t think anyone ever wanted to bash Robbie Flower.

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“What I remember about Robbie Flower, apart from the obvious, was all the supporters loved him. He used to give us the shits because every young supporter had No.2 on their back.”

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“He was a clean water player. A lot of players were dirty water, but he was glistening clean.

“He was just a beautiful player.”

However, Baker joked Flower’s popularity and cleanskin reputation did rub his teammates up the wrong way.

“What I remember about Robbie Flower, apart from the obvious, was all the supporters loved him,” he said.

media_cameraRobbie Flower kicks for goal during his prime.

“He used to give us the shits because every young supporter had No.2 on their back.

“He was a pure person through his public image, but he liked to have a good time as well.

“He was a bit of a prankster, he didn’t mind a drink but certainly from back when he was a player, the mothers and the families, they all wanted Robbie as their adopted son.”

Flower was originally nicknamed “Gilligan” due to his likeness to then TV star Bob Denver who played the title role in Gilligan’s Island, but it was Baker who labelled Flower “Tulip” and the nickname stuck.

Baker, 61, said he was stunned to hear of Flower’s death and will attend a special memorial service for him at the MCG on Monday.

Even after his retirement in 1987, Flower remained the face of the Demons as they struggled for on field glory.

“It was unfortunate he was the face, not because he didn’t deserve it, but because Melbourne hasn’t had a lot of success after the ’50s or ’60s to hang their hat on,” Baker said.

“But they had Robbie Flower and he was an absolute champion.”

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