DOB: 27 November 1933
From: Portland High School/Portland
Laidlaw signed with Geelong aged 17 but remained in Portland, sharing the Western District League's 1953 Best and Fairest with future teammate Ian Ridley. Geelong promised him a minimum of six senior games in 1954 but their hold on him had expired and he chose Melbourne over bids from Carlton, Fitzroy, Footscray and St Kilda. Jim Cardwell had travelled to see him play six times, and eventually captured Laidlaw's signature while he was recovering from an operation in hospital.
After eight games in his first season, Laidlaw underwent an operation to clear an injury that had hindered him. Late that season Portland challenged the permit he had been cleared on, claiming Melbourne 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 Laidlaw played 18 games in 1955 - ending the season with a premiership. He repeated the feat in 1956.
Before 1957 Laidlaw was approached to become the Warracknabeal captain/coach. For some time he hadn't been happy with employment that the club had arranged for him, and officials were concerned when he hadn't been in contact at the start of pre-season training. He stayed, but played just six games for the year after two serious thigh injuries. Laidlaw continued to live in Portland, and after the second injury officials issued an ultimatum that he wouldn't play finals unless he regularly travelled to Melbourne for treatment. 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 in 1958 but was sidelined with an injury after the Semi Final victory over Collingwood. He missed the Grand Final with another thigh injury. After that, he flirted with retirement but stayed to play in two more flags.
Laidlaw won 81% of his career matches, making him the most successful Melbourne player in history. From 124 games he played in 99 wins, 22 losses and 3 draws. When Norm Smith took over as coach at South Melbourne, Laidlaw joined former teammates Ian Thorogood, Brian Leahy and Don Williams at South. He coached the Reserves but 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