Thursday 2 September 2010

Exciting Mt Gravatt forward Shane Morrison has extra reason to celebrate his goals with plenty of gusto in the first semi-final at Southport on Saturday.

The 29-year-old plays his 150th QAFL game spread across three clubs, having made a significant contribution to each.

Morrison has been a matchwinner this season when fully fit and will be a key part of the Vultures’ plans to win their ninth game in succession and continue a push for his third premiership and fifth grand final overall.

“It has been a fair journey over the last 14 years since I started playing senior footy way back in Cairns as a 14-year-old,” Morrison reflected this week.

After moving to the city, Morrison was still at Sandgate State High School when enticed across to the then Northern Eagles by Zillmere playing and coaching legend Craig Brittain.

“It was a very close knit group, which is something the club was renowned for,” Morrison said.

He played largely at full-back but with stints at centre-half-back, agonizingly missing the 1999 grand final loss to Southport through injury.

He got another chance in the 2000 flag decider, but again the Eagles were beaten by the Sharks in a game where his side held control until the dying minutes.

“It was a very steep learning curve but all I have is fond memories of my time at the Eagles,” Morrison said of his 27 games at O’Callaghan Park. “It is sad that a club with so much history and success through the 70s, 80s and 90s isn’t around any more.

Numerous young Eagles from that era went on to be drafted, led by the likes of Robbie Copeland, Mitchell Hahn and Jamie Charman. 

Morrison himself was picked by the Brisbane Lions for 2001 and he spent three years at the Gabba, playing five senior AFL games but also collating 54 matches with the reserves.

He played in the Lions’ only QAFL premiership side in his first year, gaining revenge over Southport. Morrison played at full-back and held leading goalkicker Rod Mackay to just two majors and be among the Lions’ top six players on the day.

His teammates in that 13.20 to 13.8 victory included eventual All-Australian Craig Bolton, Des Headland, Ash McGrath, Joel Macdonald, Richard Hadley, Aaron Shattock, and Charman.

While he enjoyed being part of history in becoming a premiership player in the major competition in his home State, Morrison admitted to a ‘hollow’ feeling because it was still a reserves team.

Morrison developed as a player and finished runner-up in the 2003 Grogan Medal count playing as a key forward but e moved to Richmond in 2004 in search of more opportunity. He played eight senior games in two seasons there, before one up and down season with Port Adelaide in the SANFL.

He returned to Brisbane in 2007 and a number of family links at Mt Gravatt and connections on the southside saw him prefer the Vultures to Zillmere.

“Lakey (coach David Lake) had me sold on his future plans and he was spot on with what he promised,” Morrison added. “In retrorespect, it was the right decision.”

Mt Gravatt went on to dominate the competition in 2007 and won the grand final comprehensively against Southport. Morrison finished top 10 in the Grogan, played State football in the euphoric win in Tasmania that season, and was a delighted member of the grand final team.

“The feeling of satisfaction in 07 definitely outweighed 01,” he said. “It was good coming back knowing I could just relax and enjoy my football, rather than trying to earn a livelihood through it.”

His exuberant celebrations and willingness to give a verbal opinion out on the ground can divide opinions about Morrison, who feels he is a much different person off the field.

“I get judged by a lot of people outside the ground on my loud voice and actions, but I just have a genuine passion for the game and I wear my heart on my sleeve out there,” he said.

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