2022 QAFL Preview – Morningside

By Chris ‘Yeend’ Yeend

Morningside were determined to stake its claim as the team to beat in 2021 after securing the 2020 premiership in a COVID year. There is no doubt it was one of the hardest premierships to win because there was so much unpredictability as how the season would unfold, if it all and under what particular circumstances if it did. To take down Broadbeach was a phenomenal effort in the decider and its stocks and overall expectations heading into the 2021 season was high. 

After an impressive win against 2019 Grand Finalists Palm Beach Currumbin in the opening round on the road; it was time for the Panthers to make a statement early with a win in the 2021 Grand Final rematch at home in front of the 2020 premiership flag. 

The first quarter of that contest was impressive as the Panthers through Brock Aston in the midfield kept the Cats at bay and off the goal sheet; holding them to one minor score and putting two goals on the board. From that point on; Broadbeach hammered through eight goals without a response in the middle quarters and pushed away to a 53-point win. 

If Morningside wanted to make a statement early in the season; the first quarter did just that but it showed some vulnerability in that game where teams across the season could get a run on and put a stop to its goal scoring. 

The Round 6 win over the Sharks by a point in a low scoring contest was great under pressure and the 22-point win over the Roos three weeks later in a massive last quarter showed glimpses of what the Panthers could produce. The loss to Sherwood the following week by 19-points was deemed at the time to be one of the major upsets of the season. It sparked a run of three straight losses including to lowly placed Mt Gravatt by two-points. 

Wins over the Sharks and Roos in consecutive games showed its grit and determination against quality opposition but the 71-point loss to Sherwood in what would be the final game of the home and away season was massive. The Panthers conceded 13 second half goals after being within six-points at the major break set alarm bells ringing.

With COVID calling a pre-mature end to the season; the Panthers finished lower down the ladder than it was hoping and that mid-season form slump cost them a better position than it knew it could finish. Finals is a different ball game and they knew that they could deliver. With plenty of returning local VFL talent in the team, they held off a fast -finishing Surfers Paradise to advance to week two of the finals.

Morningside fronted a red-hot Maroochydore who were heading into some of the best form seen by any team at any part of the season. After leading at quarter time, the Panthers led the lead slip and the Roos advanced to the next stage of the finals.

It was a disappointing end to the season but if the club takes the losses to Sherwood out of the equation, this team plays much deeper into the finals and maybe makes it to the big dance such is the talent in the list.


The Panthers will be led by 2020 premiership coach Clint Watts who leads this club in his fourth season. Watts has incredible coaching credentials that includes experience as an Assistant Coach to Redland and the Brisbane Lions in the NEAFL and having that quality experience around the AFL system. He was an assistant coach at the Lions during the 2012 and 2013 premierships; the latter where he won the NEAFL Emerging Coach of the Year award.

Clint is also a QAFL State Team Assistant coach and was a premiership assistant coach at Morningside under John Blair in 2010 and David Lake in 2014.

It comes as a surprise to no-one that Clint led the Panthers to the 2020 flag and the club has produced some quality junior talent that have been recognised by State, Academy and VFL bodies. He is the ideal coach for this club to get the best out of the established Senior players and emerging young stars.

Clint will be supported by the following assistant coaches –
Ben Niland Rowe – Defence 

Paul Egan – Midfield 

Nick Mitchell – Offence  

Brett Zeidler – Stoppage & Talls Development  

Geoff Slater – Development 

Justin Lawrence – Oppo Analysis and Statistics 

Looking at this list of coaches, it comes to the surprise of no-one that this Senior team will produce tremendous success.


Keegan Downie – Rosebud – a skilful key forward and former club captain at Rosebud and has played some VFL at Frankston.

Max McDonald – Maroochydore – young ruckman playing behind the great Jacob Simpson, has moved to Brisbane for work opportunities and to get more experience and opportunities in the Senior QAFL system.

Jett Smith – Yarrawonga/Murray Bushrangers – classy inside mid who is versatile and can play both ends of the ground as well. 



Brock Aston – Redlands 

Campbell Aston – Redlands 

Henry Joyce – Retired 



Damian Martyn – Mid 

Harry Taylor – Wing/Fwd 

Hugo Crawford – Defender 



Kelly Castle – kicked six goals against Maroochydore last year from the wing. Castle is a dual premiership player with Moreton Bay and joined the QAFL competition in season 2021. He didn’t disappoint, making an immediate impact in the competition with the Panthers. He needed one season to find his ground at this level and we will most definitely see his enormous potential in his second season at the club. 



“Nothing from the norm with our club, we will compete our hardest every single week and there is never ever any ceiling to how good we can be.” Clint Watts 



“This is the strongest QAFL competition in decades. Every win you get you would have been earned.” Clint Watts  



“We like the teams that test you in the coaches box and the Malceski led Labrador is top of the pile in this area, they are a strong team, with mature tough players all over the park.  We are also looking forward to playing Noosa, who outside of Labrador have probably put the best list together.” Clint Watts 



“Tom Jeffrey is back fulltime from Aspley in the VFL and at only 20 has been added to our leadership group.” – Clint Watts


The loss of Brock and Campbell Aston takes away from some of that toughness in the midfield and around the ball but the key additions  Downie, McDonald and Smith provide some key elements across the team to add some versatility, strength and depth.

When this team as at its best, there is no team that can get in its way. The one key element that needs to be addressed, and no doubt has been in the off-season is to restore momentum in their favour quickly before the opposition make too much of an impact on the scoreboard. In a number of occasions across the 2021 season, they started strongly before the opposition put together good runs to hit the lead and by a good margin, or to come back and almost take victory. Matches against Broadbeach, Sherwood and Surfers Paradise come to mind.

It will be business as usual for the club and as Clint correctly pointed out, each win will need to be earned this season considering the strength of the competition is at its best in quite some time. Fortunately for Morningside fans, this team has improved in the off-season and risen with the strength of those teams and will be right in the mix for a top three or four finish.  

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