Dale Morris visit thrills Mudcrabs juniors
AUSSIE RULES: For Gladstone Mudcrab Football Club junior Cooper Phelp, 7, it was an experience of a lifetime when Western Bulldogs premiership defender Dale Morris took over a skills clinic on Wednesday.
Morris's visit launched the club's senior and junior pre-season at Clinton Oval and was followed by a Q and A session.
"I was looking forward to it," Cooper said.
He came away from the clinic in the hope to be able to take spectacular marks as Morris showed the dozens of young footballers on the technique of taking the high mark - one of the more notable skills in the great Australian game.
"I've learned how to jump at the ball," Cooper said.
"This season was my first season of AFL."
And it seems that Morris's visit has had the desired impact on Cooper.
"I support mainly the Western Bulldogs now," he said.
Another Western Bulldog supporter was Jaykob Kenzler who could barely believe his eyes that one of his heroes was in Gladstone.
"It's a dream come true to meet Dale and I didn't know how to take a speccy mark until I came here," Jaykob said.
"Sometimes I try to use my foot going for my marks."
Mudcrabs fitness coach Darren Lush said the threatening weather cleared just in time for the clinic.
He was the main driving force to bring Morris to Gladstone.
The two are best mates after they grew up together in Melbourne.
"I was very happy with the turnout and there were a lot of new faces," Lush said.
"Generally we were thrilled to have a current premiership player here."
New Gladstone Mudcrabs president Josh Roati said the visit almost equalled another drought.
"It's been nearly as long as the Western Bulldogs premiership drought because the last time a premiership player was in Gladstone was in the early 2000s when Alastair Lynch was here," he said.
Morris relished the opportunity to mingle with the kids before passing on his wisdom during the senior training session.
"I was really looking forward to it and there are some good kids out here and they love their footy which is the best," Morris said.
And as for enjoying the warmer weather, Morris was not complaining.
"I think I brought a bit of cold weather with me," he said.
"People here are saying it's cold, but it still feels pretty hot to me."
Morris was an integral part of the Bulldogs team which defeated the Sydney Swans by 22 points in the premiership decider on October 1.
- NICK KOSSATCH