The West

Why Sydney flag changed Morton
Sydney premiership player Mitch Morton has settled in at Lathlain Park. Pic: Lincoln Baker/WA News

Mitch Morton says he learnt more in two short seasons at Sydney than at any other point of his 83-game AFL career and credits the renowned Bloods culture with teaching him to no longer be a selfish player.

The 27-year-old has no regrets about quitting the AFL late last year to return home and join WAFL club Perth where he is playing alongside younger brothers Jarryd and Cale.

He said he was committed to passing on the lessons taken from Sydney - a swan song that yielded a premiership medallion from just 12 games - to his young teammates to help the Demons become a strong team again.

"I wonder sometimes how my career would have gone if it happened at the other end - at the start - and I was a part of something like that," Morton said.

"It probably changed me a little bit and shifted my focus away from what I was doing in games more towards what the team was doing in games. I think that's something I'm trying to teach the guys here - that it's all about the team and if you win and you've played your role, that's all you can do.

"To be honest I probably learnt more at Sydney than I did anywhere else. Whether that was a maturity thing - I was getting older - or obviously the famous Sydney culture would have played a big hand in that.

"But I just bought into the culture and did everything I could to be part of it. It made me a better person and a better player and hopefully I can teach some of these kids the same things."

Morton's chequered AFL career was spread across three clubs - West Coast, Richmond and the Swans.

There was the high of kicking two crunch goals in a winning 2012 grand final to help Sydney over the line.

Then there were the lows - being traded twice, firstly by the Eagles and then Richmond, the anxiety that affected him before every AFL game, and the hamstring and calf complaints that helped end his career.

"Everyone starts their career wanting to play 300 games and be a superstar, but I realised early on that was probably going to be hard to do," Morton said. "I just did everything I could to have any sort of a career."

Morton was originally drafted from Claremont, but said brother Jarryd's presence at Perth had made the decision on which WAFL club to join easy.

The three siblings had not lined up for the same team since juniors.

"Blood's thicker than water and we've always wanted to play together," he said. "It makes it a little bit easier for mum and dad and the family only having to go to one game.

"Jarryd can't speak highly enough of Perth. When he was here last year he said 'it's got a great culture and they're building and they're trying to get back to playing finals and being a successful club again'.

"That's a challenge that we all wanted to be a part of."

Morton is building to full fitness after five months off his feet to recover from bone bruising to his right knee.

He will bring up his 50-game WAFL milestone against Subiaco at Lathlain Park tomorrow against a side he rates as the competition's benchmark this year.

"The whole idea, just like it was at Sydney, was just to be part of something," he said.

"I don't really have ambitions to be the best player here or certainly dominate. I'm not here to prove anything. I'm just here to make this club a better place."

The West Australian

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