Richmond fans love a tough, uncompromising competitor wearing the Yellow and Black. And if any player on the Tigers’ playing list epitomises those qualities, it’s Steven Morris.
Not for some time has a first-year player made such an impression on the Tiger Army, for his fierce attack on the football and passion for the Club's values.
For Morris, a 24-year-old mature-aged recruit, who initially missed his chance to join the AFL system, it’s a dream come true.
“I’m honoured and proud to represent the Yellow and Black,” Morris said.
“Finally, I’ve achieved my dream of playing with such a great club. It’s always been a dream of mine to play AFL footy, and to be able to do it at such an amazing club is something that’s pretty special to me.”
Morris’ father, Kevin, was a dual premiership player at Richmond, in 1973 and ’74, in a 110-game career.
Forty years after his dad made his debut for the Tigers, the younger Morris ran out in front of 78,000 fans, against Carlton in the opening round of the 2012 season. He proudly wore the same number 38 guernsey that Kevin wore with such distinction.
“I never saw Dad play. I wasn’t born, and he never talks about it much, but I just loved the idea of playing in the jumper my dad played in. And I get to see his name on my locker every day,” Morris said.
It seems a long time ago now, but Morris nominated for the National Draft as an 18-year-old, and was overlooked.
While others might have seen it as a once-off opportunity, the determined youngster packed his bags for South Australia, where he would try to force his way into the big time through the SANFL competition.
A blistering stint at West Adelaide, where he won the Best and Fairest in 2011, saw Richmond, along with others, raise their eyebrows.
Morris had been pre-listed by Greater Western Sydney, but the Tigers were keen to trade for his services.
“I first spoke to Richmond just before the last game. They spoke to me over the weekend and said, ‘We’re coming into our last game, we’d like you to come over and train with us for a day’,” Morris said.
“I came out and had a bit of a run around with the boys, and that was my first inkling that they might have been keen to have me here.
“It’s a pretty nerve-wracking time. Thankfully for me, it ended up well, and I’m here at Tigerland.”
Beyond even his expectations, Morris missed only one game in his debut season with Richmond, through injury, and he was an excellent contributor.
He averaged 16 disposals per game as a negating defender, with a season-high 23 against North Melbourne in Round 17, and was ranked No. 2 at the Club for one-percenters (73).
Midway through the year, the Club offered him a one-year contract extension, increasing his stay at Punt Road until at least the end of the 2014 season.
To cap it all off, on Jack Dyer Medal night, he won the Club’s Bill Cosgrove/Harry Jenkins Best First Year Player Award, and finished seventh in the Best and Fairest count.
It was a fitting finish to a year he will never forget.