Seeing a growing area that would be welcoming to their young family, Robert Laidlaw’s parents decided to move to Elizabeth from Sefton Park in 1964. This was the year the Central Districts Football Club entered a senior team into the South Australian National Football League. As his Dad was a boot sprigger at the club, Robert became an instant follower of the team known as the Bulldogs.
Robert has always had an amazing head for sporting statistics. As a kid his brother would test him. He knew all the stats for the SANFL, the VFL as well as all the local baseball games. This led him to writing baseball stories for the local Messenger press and, later, becoming a professional sports writer as well as the official historian at Centrals. He co-authored, along with past club great Robin Mulholland, the book Poms to Premiers, which celebrated 50 years of the Central Districts Football Club.
Robert speaks fondly of growing up in Elizabeth. He believes he is a community- minded person, which comes from being brought up there. It’s this community mindedness that inspires Robert to give so much to the club he loves. He still feels it is something special to go and see the Doggies play at Elizabeth Oval.
Having only missed 5 Centrals home and away games since 1993 speaks of Robert’s dedication to the club. He can recite each one of these games, when it was, who the Doggies were playing, who won and why he had to miss them.
In the year 2000 when Centrals won the second semi final, Robert was in Sydney writing about baseball for the Olympics. This did not deter him from missing the Grand Final however. He booked flights back to Adelaide to be at the big game full of confidence that the Doggies would win their first flag.
After the win, Robert was dragged into the players huddle on the ground to sing the club song. He said that moment gave meaning to him being from Elizabeth and a Centrals supporter. To be on the ground and experience that joyous moment he was washed over with emotion that they’d finally done it.