Morison and Norwich City looking the perfect fit
Steve Morison is a man in a hurry. The 27-year-old admitted that he wondered if the big time had passed him by after he was released by Northampton Town as a youngster. He needn’t have worried.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of reporting on Stevenage Borough (well that’s what they were called then) for a couple of seasons and often wondered why no-one had taken a punt on Mr Morison.
Stevenage manager Graham Westley was also in the dark, although he obviously did not want to lose his star player and captain.
You may be surprised to hear that Morison, or Moro as he was inventively known in the dressing room, wasn’t one of the fans’ favourites at Broadhall Way and was often cited by supporters if the team was going through a poor run.
He was perceived to be as a surly, miserable so-and-so on the terraces, desperate to get out of the club and chase his Football League dream. That was only partly true, however.
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Morison was indeed looking to test himself at a higher level but he was the life and soul of the Stevenage dressing room – ‘good banter’ to use the footballer’s vernacular.
But behind that jokey exterior off the pitch lay the burning desire to improve himself.
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Upon Westley’s arrival at the Hertfordshire club, the manager thought he knew why clubs weren’t willing to hand him his chance in the Football League – a lack of pace. Specialist training sessions were arranged and after a few months the difference was very noticeable.
He’s never going to give Theo Walcott a run for his money but it was enough to leave defenders, especially at non league level, trailing in his wake.
He had added another string to his bow and showed that he could be more than just a target man as demonstrated by his running of the channels during City’s draw at Wigan.
After he carried Stevenage to an FA Trophy win in 2009 it was enough to convince Kenny Jackett to give him a chance at Millwall.
Negotiations were protracted with Stevenage digging their heels in over any potential sell-on fee. However, the Lions could perhaps understand why after Morison’s first season at The Den.
Fans may have wondered who this new lad was with only one ‘r’ in his name, but his goals helped earn them promotion to the Championship.
It was enough to put him on City boss Paul Lambert’s radar and the dream move to the Premier League followed a season later.
It’s a remarkable rise for a player who was working in a paper shredding factory to make ends meet whilst keeping his football dream alive with Bishop’s Stortford after being released by Northampton.
Lambert often talks about the ‘hunger’ needed to become part of his squad – well Morison is ravenous.
Even a very nasty gash close to his eye was not going to spoil his competitive debut for the Canaries at the weekend and you could see how disappointed he was to be substituted in the second period.
While fans may have been heartened by his display, the man himself was a picture of frustration afterwards that he hadn’t at least had an opportunity to score himself. The fact he had laid on Wes Hoolahan’s goal and generally led the line with aplomb apparently wasn’t enough.
However, that’s exactly why Lambert signed him – he wants players that are never satisfied, always striving for more. He’s got that in Morison.
As a natural leader he won’t be shy about telling a team-mate the error of their ways either as demonstrated by the rollicking he dished out to Hoolahan in the first half on Saturday when the Irishman held on to the ball a fraction too long instead of playing the striker in.
Fortunately, Lambert has surrounded Morison with team-mates who also share his quest for excellence.
No-one is suggesting he has ‘made it’ on the back of one good performance against Wigan, least of all the man himself, but it’s exciting to see a player turn around his playing career in little more than two years.
He will act as a shining example to every footballer plying his trade outside the Football League but the thing that separates him from the others is not merely his talent.
It’s that desire to better himself and there can be no better environment to continue that journey than with Norwich City at present.
He’s not the only one looking to make up for lost time.