Albury’s unlikely hero was blindsided by his dumping less than 48 hours before his match-winning goal against Wodonga Raiders.
Brady Morton sent the Tigers through to a state record-equalling 10th straight grand final when he kept his composure to goal from 40m on a tricky angle with only 57 seconds left.
It rounded out a rollercoaster of emotions after he was dumped for the first time in his two years in the league.
“I was pretty shot to be honest, I didn’t expect a) to be dropped and b) end up forward,” he said 90 seconds after landing the goal.
“I guess if I was playing twos (reserves), I was going to be playing the best I can and show them what they were missing out on.
“As it turned out I didn’t have to, I was very lucky.”
Morton started the match in defence but, in a coaching masterstroke, was moved forward.
“To his credit, it probably wasn’t working for him in the first half and when he came back on, we flipped him forward,” co-coach Shaun Daly.
Morton also showed his maturity when he was awarded the free kick for kicking in danger.
“Someone yelled out a minute and a half when Raiders kicked their last goal, so I did a quick calculation, so I reckon there was about 50 seconds left,” he said.
“I’ve had a routine since I was 16 or 17.
“I go 17 steps back, ball to my toes, toes line to the goals, take two deep breaths and walk in.”
The years of mental preparation certainly worked as the 21-year-old drilled the biggest goal of his life.
He’s now kicked 10 in his 39-game career in the O and M.
“I’ve played most of my junior footy with Brady (at Wagga Tigers), he started in the backline and moved forward and kicked one of the best goals so far in his career,” team-mate Jake Gaynor said.
Morton’s effort guaranteed Albury joins Horsham with the most successive grand final apperances in Victorian Country Football League (VCFL)/AFL Victoria history, from 1921.
Horsham is a clear leader though with consecutive flags after winning all 10 in the Wimmera Football League from 2003-2012.
Albury has won six of its nine grand finals, racking up two successive three-year reigns (2009-2011 and 2014-2016).
St Patrick’s (1921-24) and Wangaratta (1949-52) are the only clubs to win four straight.
Wangaratta will look to defend its title, but must get past the rapidly improved Wodonga Raiders in Sunday’s preliminary final at Albury Sportsground.
Raiders hold a two-one advantage this year, including the qualifying final win.
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