Kevin Morris is Richmond’s next Coming Home Hero.
The Tigers will honour the 1973-74 premiership star during the pre-game build-up at this Saturday’s clash with Fremantle at the MCG.
Morris, the father of current-day tough Tiger Steven Morris, will walk to the Punt Road end of the ground, to receive acknowledgment from the Yellow and Black faithful.
He will then proceed to kick a ceremonial goal, before signing the football and handing it to a Richmond fan in the crowd.
Highlights of Morris’s successful career with the Tigers also will be shown on the big screens.
Morris, who was recruited by Richmond from VFA club Waverley, made his first senior appearance for the Tigers in Round 11 of the 1971 season, against Geelong at Kardinia Park, at 20 years and 298 days of age.
Richmond won that match by 50 points and Morris clearly did enough on debut to retain his place in the strong line-up.
He would go on to play every game with the Tigers for the rest of the season, including their first semi-final victory over Collingwood, and their preliminary final loss to St Kilda.
From that point on, Morris was virtually an automatic selection in the Richmond side each week. And, we’re talking about a team that contained all-time Tiger greats such as Bartlett, Bourke, Clay, Hart, Sheedy and Stewart.
Morris became one of Richmond’s most consistent performers over the next few seasons, using his football talents in a variety of on-field roles, including half-forward, half-back, centre, ruck-rover, and even full-forward.
Wherever he played, Morris knew no other way than giving it everything he had. He was a strong, straight-ahead style of player, but mixed those physical attributes with a high skill level, coupled with a clever football brain. In essence, he was the quintessential utility player.
In the goalscoring frenzy that was the 1972 Grand Final, Morris was in the top three Tiger players on the ground. He tried valiantly to lift the Tigers, finishing with 16 kicks, three handballs and a goal in the shock loss to Carlton.
The following year, Morris was 19th man in Richmond’s sweet revenge over the Blues in the ’73 Grand Final.
When Carlton mounted a dangerous fightback in the final term, Tiger coach Tommy Hafey turned to Morris to replace teenager Noel Carter, in a bid to stem the tide.
That move worked a charm with Morris instantly throwing himself into the fray and winning several key possessions, to keep the Blues at bay. Although he was on the ground for less than a quarter, he finished with half a dozen touches, to play his part in the Tigers’ premiership triumph.
With 28 goals in 20 games for the ‘73 season, Morris had certainly been a valuable contributor in the side’s successful campaign. He kicked a career-high eight goals against South Melbourne at the MCG in Round 21 that year, to further underline his ability as a quality football all-rounder.
Fast-forward 12 months, and Morris, this time playing across half-back, was one of the Tigers’ best, as they overpowered North Melbourne in the 1974 Grand Final. His reliability had become a major asset for the team . . .
The following year, with Richmond aiming at a premiership hat-trick, Morris enjoyed his best season from an individual perspective, winning the Club’s Best and Fairest award, the prestigious Jack Dyer Medal, for the first time.
Although the Tigers just came up short in their quest for a third consecutive flag, falling to North in the preliminary final, Morris had covered himself in glory with his excellent efforts throughout the season.
Morris played the last of his 110 games for Richmond in Round 22, 1976, when the Tigers, who missed the finals that year, defeated St Kilda at Waverley Park by 34 points. It brought his winning strike-rate in six seasons at Tigerland to just over 68%.
He subsequently joined Collingwood, reuniting with his Richmond premiership coach Tommy Hafey. In four seasons with the Magpies, Morris, true to form, provided them with fine value. He was a member of their losing 1979 and 1980 Grand Final sides, assuming the role of vice-captain in ’80.
It’s at Richmond, however, where Morris is best remembered for his successful on-field deeds.
Five-time Tiger premiership hero and Club ‘Immortal’, Kevin Bartlett, in his recently-published book “KB: A Life In Football”, selected Morris on the interchange bench in his best line-up of Richmond players over the course of his 19-season league career.
“Kevin was a Best and Fairest winner and dual premiership player who could play as a half-forward flanker or across half-back and even as a ruck-rover. He was very strong, and a good mark and kick. He was always totally committed to his football and was a team-oriented player. His specialty was just getting things done and doing them properly. In that respect, his approach was similar to that of Francis Bourke,” Bartlett wrote.
Kevin Morris fact file
Playing weight: 84kg
Recruited to Richmond from: Salesian College/Waverley (VFA)
Guernsey number at Richmond: No. 38
Debut for Richmond: Round 11, 1971 v Geelong, Kardinia Park
Games for Richmond (1971-1976): 111
Goals for Richmond: 71
Honours at Richmond: Dual premiership player 1973, 1974; Jack Dyer Medallist in 1975