For his 60th birthday, held at the Sandringham Club, Drew Morphett had asked famous Australian singer-songwriter Russell Morris to provide the entertainment. As many who knew Morphett well could attest, he would soon become the life of the party.
“So Russell came along and sang and was still capable of giving a very good account of himself. By the time he was into the second number of his bracket, Drew is up there with him, actually performing,” long-time colleague and friend Tim Lane told Fairfax Media on Saturday.
“He could sing quite well. He was up there front and centre. He said if he couldn’t do it at his own birthday party, when could he do it?”
That summed Morphett up – an allrounder on many fronts.
The sporting world is mourning the death of Morphett, 69, who passed away at home while watching Hawthorn play the Western Bulldogs on Friday night.
While Morphett was best known for his commentary of many sports, he and his wife, Karen, had been significant contributors to Victoria’s racing industry. They ran Cloverdale, one of Victoria’s premier agistment farms in South Pakenham.
The farm, regarded by many as the best agistment and rehabilitation facility in the state, was where many of Victoria’s top trainers sent their horses for a spell or rehabilitation. Trainers included the likes of Mick Price and Peter Moody. Drew and Karen also raced many horses over the years and enjoyed plenty of success.
Greg Miles, one of Australia’s finest race broadcasters, was stunned by Morphett’s passing. “He was a great friend and work colleague. I lunched with Drew several times a year. It will never be the same. He will be terribly missed,” he said.
“Drew was always the same. A carefree, happy guy. Always quick with a joke and always the life of the party.
“His sports broadcasts were always laced with a boyish enthusiasm that was infectious. A wonderful voice that was so easy to listen to. A truly great communicator both on radio and television.”
That he was. Morphett grew up in Sydney, in the Cronulla region, and started his career as a trainee in Sydney. He only learnt about Aussie rules football when he shifted to Perth. His mentor there was Ern Henfry, Carlton’s 1947 premiership captain, who was then working for the ABC. Henfry would teach Morphett the nuances of the sport, and Morphett was soon on his way to becoming one of Australian sport’s best-known voices.
“To become the broadcaster that he did was an absolute credit to him,” fellow veteran caller Sandy Roberts said.
Morphett would transfer to Melbourne as a journalist on a new ABC sports television show before shifting into the sports department. He would specialise in AFL and cricket at the ABC on television and radio but was an all rounder, covering many sports at Olympic Games.
His stardom – and hair – would rise when he hosted The Winners, an institution on ABC TV during the 1980s, and The Winners Rebooted in recent years on Fox Footy. Worked with the legendary Drew Morphett & regarded him as a mentor, one of the best & thoughts with Karen #DrewMorphett#TheWinnerspic.twitter广州桑拿/9CUXUSEMC0??? Jim Wilson (@JimWilsonTV) 26 August 2017