MELBOURNE is mourning the passing of champion wingman Robbie Flower.

Flower, who played 272 games and kicked 315 goals for the Demons between 1973 and 1987, died on Thursday at the age of 59.

Late on Thursday, the club released a short statement on behalf of Flower's family, which read: "It is with the deepest regret that we wish to advise of the sudden passing of Robert Flower, after a brief, unexpected illness.

"The family is devastated by the sudden loss and would appreciate privacy at this time."

Recruited from Melbourne's south-eastern suburbs, Flower became one of the Demons' most decorated players during his long career.

He won Melbourne's best and fairest in 1977, was the club's leading goalkicker three times, was its captain between 1981 and '87 and was later named on the wing in the Demons' team of the century.

He also finished third in the Brownlow Medal in 1979 and 1984.
Melbourne's games record holder until overtaken by David Neitz in 2006, he was also inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Flower finished his career with a winning percentage of just 32.35.

He famously failed to play in a final until his 15th and final season.

His 270th game, in which Melbourne played North Melbourne in an elimination final, was his first taste of finals footy.

His last game was the 1987 preliminary final, which the Demons suffered a heartbreaking after-the-siren loss to Hawthorn.

Gary Buckenara's accurate kick, which handed the Hawks a come-from-behind victory, cost Flower the chance to play in a Grand Final in his last match.

However, Flower might have missed the big game even if Melbourne had made it because he had suffered a shoulder injury in a collision with Hawthorn hard-man Robert DiPierdomenico.

Flower later became a key figure in the battle to quash the proposed merger with Hawthorn.

He then served for a brief time on the Melbourne board.

Former Melbourne coach John Northey with Robbie Flower after a VFL match. Picture: AFL Media

-DOB: 5/8/55
-272 games for Melbourne 1973-87, 315 goals
-Melbourne captain 1981-87
-15 games for Victoria, three as captain
-International Rules v Ireland, 1984
-Three-time Melbourne leading goalkicker
-Australian Football Hall of Fame inductee
-Named on the wing in Melbourne's team of the century