CALE Morton was something of a whipping boy during his AFL playing days.
With a high selection in the 2007 AFL National Draft came high expectations.
But his time at the Melbourne Demons yielded 73 games over five seasons before he was almost given away to West Coast, where he extended his career by just one more season and three matches in 2013.
Some would argue Morton’s talent was wasted, but the 25-year-old said he is happy with his AFL career.
“I’m proud of what I did. I don’t have any regrets,”
“There would have been a lot of people that would have wished to be in the position I was in. If anything I thought it probably ended sooner than I would have liked, but everything happens for a reason and I couldn’t be happier to be where I am now.”
After a stint with Perth in the WAFL last year, the next chapter of Morton’s football journey is being written at VFL side Coburg.
The Lions announced his signing with plenty of excitement last month, Coburg general manager Craig Lees declaring Morton could “dominate VFL footy” this year.
Morton had trained with Collingwood’s VFL side before Christmas after deciding to make the move back to Melbourne once his WAFL commitments were over.
But post-Christmas, Coburg quickly firmed as the favoured destination.
“I wasn’t speaking to any other VFL clubs. I wasn’t shopping around,” Morton said.
“I genuinely thought that Coburg, straight off the bat, was probably going to be the best club for me because of where their list is at and where they’re at as a football club."
“I felt as though I’m probably running out of time with my football and I thought long and hard about where I wanted to play the rest of my career.
“At the end of the day it was really about putting myself into a competition that would allow me to get the best out of myself and keep playing at the highest level.”
Like many others who have joined the Lions’ pride over the past two years, Morton sees Piranha Park as a land of opportunity.
Since going stand-alone last year, Coburg coach Peter German has the club on the right track and has started to develop a thriving culture among such a young side.
The Lions proved their development credentials when Adam Saad drew the eyes of AFL recruiters and was drafted to the Gold Coast Suns last November.
And while Morton is firmly focused on the VFL this year, deep down he still holds aspirations of finding his way back into the AFL.
“My goal is just to play my role for Coburg and I want to develop my leadership as well, whether that be onfield or off-field,” he said.
“I’m 25 years old now and not getting any younger so I want to be a leader for the younger players.
“I know how important it is to develop those younger players because if I can have the 22 players in the team performing as well as they can it’s going to make it easier for the senior guys and at the end of the day it’s probably going to give us a better chance of success.”
Morton is in the thick of pre-season training with his new teammates, hopeful of getting his body in top shape for a big season.
“I think the big thing for me is just getting my body right and staying injury-free at the moment because I don’t want a repeat of what has been a couple of injuryplagued years,” Morton said.