Paul Morrey in profile
Life had its moments in the 1980s, especially if you happened to be opening Prahran’s innings on Saturday afternoons at Toorak Park. Just ask Paul Morrey, then a teenager. ‘One week you’d be facing Rodney Hogg, the next week (Dennis) Hickey and the next Merv Hughes,’ he said. ‘There was no-where to run and no-where to hide. And we did it all on uncovered pitches, without helmets.’
Cricket has been an enduring love affair for Morrey, stretching close to 40 years and across five clubs. And he’s still opening up, with the Australian Cricket Society’s Over 60s team.
UK born, he’d started his cricketing journey at the bayside suburb of Seaford. ‘In my first game we were bowled out for 11 in the first innings and nine in the second. None of us had played cricket before we went down to play. Happily we improved.’
Morrey started to perfect his game at St Bede’s in Mentone. By 16 he was playing for Prahran in the threes before steadily moving up the grades to its first XI. Paul played 14 seasons for Prahran where he was regularly playing against interstate standard players and some who would eventually go on to represent Australia. His son, Nicholas, now captains the club’s second XI.
‘It was tough for batsmen back then,’ he says. ‘There was plenty of chirp. Once we played on a mud wicket at South Melbourne, whose team included Max Walker. He took six for 10 and was virtually unplayable.’
He was out that day caught Ian Redpath bowled Walker, both being noted Australian internationals.
Did he wear a helmet? ‘No,’ he said. ‘Julien (Wiener) didn’t, so neither did I.’
At Prahran he opposed one of the most celebrated all-rounders the game has ever seen in West Indian Garry Sobers. He was with some of his Prahran buddies at Dav Whatmore’s indoor nets at Mt Waverley when Sobers strolled in, without any gear and asked if he could have a bat.
‘Simon Davis who played a Test and Andrew Scott, who was also quick, both bowled to him. Garry was 42, had a bung knee and no protective gear and he simply smashed us all,’ he said.
Paul later went onto play for Elsternwick in the late 1980s where he was captain of the ones. He also won the batting award during the 1990-91 season coinciding with being involved in Elsternwick’s highest partnership of 219 alongside Robbie Gartrell.
At Ashwood, where he was captain-coach, he led the team to the ‘A’ grade flag in 1996-97. ‘We were playing Marcellin Collage, captained by former Victorian player Michael Dimattina. It was a four-day game or it was meant to be. It rained all the first day, we didn’t start until 2.30 pm on day two. We had no covers. It was a wet deck, we won the toss and bowled first, we bowled them out for 140. By the time we were batting on day four the pitch was dry and we chased them down easily.’
At Ashwood, Paul loved the experience of playing in the same first XI as his son Nick. ‘The opportunity that cricket provides to play with your children is something that I really enjoyed,’ Morrey said. In one game they shared a partnership of 131. Paul’s youngest son James now plays for Ashwood.
Later this year he’s hoping he can gain selection for one of Victorian Over 60s teams come September and the national championships on the Sunshine Coast. Good luck Paul. – DONAL WILSON