DOB: 27 November 1933
From: Portland High School/Portland
Laidlaw shared the 1953 Munro Medal for best and fairest in the Western District League with Hamilton Imperials player Ian Ridley who joined him at Melbourne. He signed with Geelong aged 17 but left after their hold on him expired. Geelong was so keen to keep him that he was promised a minimum of six senior games in 1954 but still crossed to Melbourne. Carlton, Fitzroy, Footscray and St Kilda had also tried to recruit him, but Jim Cardwell won out after making six trips to Portland to see him play. They eventually got his signature while he was in hospital recovering from an operation.
Laidlaw played eight games in his first season, but was forced to undergo an operation at the end of that year to clear up an injury which had been hindering him. Late that year Portland challenged the permit they had granted for him to join Melbourne on the grounds that the Demons had struck out a clause on the agreement allowing him to transfer to any country club he wished. The dispute was settled in Melbourne's favour and he played 18 games in 1955 - ending the season playing in a Grand Final victory. He repeated the feat in 1956 but played just 6 games in 1957 due to two serious thigh injuries.
Before that season he had been approached by the Warracknabeal club to become their captain/coach but had remained in the VFL. There was concern amongst Demon officials when they hadn't been in contact with him at the start of pre-season training, but he returned to teh side. He lived in the town, and after his second thigh injury the Demons were forced to issue an ultimatum to him that he wouldn't play finals unless he regularly travelled to Melbourne for treatment on the injury. He agreed to the club's terms but did not recover in time for the finals series.
After finally settling in Melbourne, Laidlaw played 14 games for the season but was sidelined with an injury after the 1958 Semi Final victory over Collingwood. He missed the Grand Final where the Demons were defeated due to another thigh injury. After that, he flirted with retirement but returned to play in two more flags.
Laidlaw won 81% of his career matches, making him the most successful Demon, and VFL/AFL player, in history. From 124 games he played in 99 wins, 22 losses and 3 draws.
Laidlaw moved to South Melbourne when Norm Smith took over as coach to take control of the reserves in a lineup also consisting of his old teammates Ian Thorogood, Brian Leahy and Don Williams. He later resigned from South due to a personality clash with Leahy.
ECH Taylor's 1958 club history suggests Laidlaw's 1957 absences were a temporary retirement due to business commitments. This is not supported by contemporary newspaper reports.
Portland Guardian - 17/12/1953
Herald - 23/03/1954
News - 27/03/1954
Sporting Globe 21/08/1954
Age - 08/03/1957
Age - 13/08/1957
Age - 15/08/1957
Football Record R17 1957
Age - 12/03/1958
Age - 15/03/1958
Age - 05/07/1972
melbournefc.com.au - 05/02/2015