South Melbourne: 7 VFL games, 2 goals
Dandenong: 202 VFA games

Eduard Herbert Melai was born in the Netherlands and is notable for his career with the Dandenong Football Club in the VFA during the 1960s and 1970s.

Melai played 50 games with Geelong reserves in the VFL during the early 1960s, and was part of Geelong’s 1963 reserves premiership team, but he did not play a senior game for the club. He was cleared to South Melbourne and played 7 senior matches there during the 1964 season.

In 1965 Melai crossed to Dandenong in the VFA without a clearance. It was a historic transfer, as he was the first player to make the switch from the VFL to the VFA without a clearance after the VFA had terminated its transfer agreement with the VFL in April that year.

Melai became the mainstay ruckman of the Dandenong team over the next decade, a successful time which saw Melai win premierships in 1967 – notably knocking umpire David Jackson unconscious in an accidental collision during the controversial Grand Final – and 1971, and he played off in a further three Grand Finals in 1969, 1972 and 1975. Melai retired from the VFA in June 1976, after having played 202 games for the Redlegs.

Melai continued to play football at suburban level until 1979. In the early 1990s, he served as a runner and team manager for the St Kilda Football Club.

Melai died at age 63 after suffering a stroke in April 2004. Later that year he was named as the ruckman of Dandenong’s Team of the Century.

Dutch Team of the Century logo