Morton relishing Southern’s rise

Published date24 November 2023
Publication titleSports Tab
Disbelief. Excitement. Shock

She has even asked herself: ‘‘How has this happened?’’

Most of all, there is a whole heap of pride bubbling inside the Southern United captain havng led her side to the National League final on Sunday.

‘‘I think we’re all kind of blindsided a bit by it,’’ Morton said.

‘‘We all knew we were capable, but I didn’t think we really saw it as being an actual possibility and now it’s here.

‘‘Personally, I like being underdogs more than anything else, because no-one expects it and you kind of just prove everyone wrong, which makes it that much nicer.’’

It was not that long ago Southern United were struggling to record just a single win a season — Morton and defender Hannah MacKay-Wright are the only ones still around from those days.

Morton, 23, moved from Hawke’s Bay to Dunedin in 2019, and credited Dunedin Technical winning the Kate Sheppard Cup the year before for putting ‘‘Southern on the map’’.

After meeting the players, she struggled to understand how Southern did not perform to their potential.

‘‘We’ve got amazing players. They’ve always had amazing players.

‘‘It’s definitely changed a lot.

‘‘We’ve gone from only winning potentially against the lower-table teams, and maybe causing an upset here and there . . . but never a real competitor that people took seriously.’’

That changed in 2021 when Southern won the South Central series, an adapted league without Auckland teams who were in lockdown, and after a ‘‘rocky start’’, they finished fourth in the national league last season, the best of any team outside of Auckland.

‘‘I think we’ve always had that belief that we want to give it a go and we’re pretty hearty down here and that’s kind of the southern spirit.

‘‘It’s crazy and it’s really cool to see.’’

Morton — who is the oldest player in the team — was proud to see the shift in Southern’s mindset as they blooded a new crop of players this season.

‘‘They don’t know that Southern is a team that usually gets beaten all the time, which is kind of crazy.

‘‘Our new players that have only just started this year are kind of like ‘is this not what always happens?’

‘‘That’s what we want. We want other girls in the region coming through the pathways to realise that this is a team they want to be a part of, and that they should strive to be a part of.

‘‘It’s cool to experience...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT