500-up for Glenn
On October 16, Crawley Town goalkeeper and ONE endorsee, Glenn Morris, made his 500th career appearance – exactly 20 years after making his debut as a 17-year-old for Leyton Orient. Having also turned out for Southend, Aldershot and Gillingham, he reveals the secrets of his longevity...
When you’re starting out in the game, reaching 500 appearances doesn’t even cross your mind but now I’ve reached that milestone it’s one I’m extremely proud of.
Not many players get to play that many games and while it usually happens in the latter stages of a career, I still feel – at the age of 37 – that I still have plenty to give. I’m looking forward rather than back and know there’s still more to come from me. With my contacts in the game, I have been offered paths into coaching, but that’s something to consider in the future. Right now, all I’m focused on is winning games and helping Crawley climb the table.
So what keeps me going at this age? Well, I think it’s a strong mindset more than anything else. I won’t lie; I do feel tired at times, I do get aches and pains, but I just get on with it.
When you get to my age, you do have to look after yourself in terms of diet and fitness, there’s no two ways about it, because you have to be on your game in every training session and every match. Let your guard down or take your foot off the pedal and you’ll soon be replaced. There are times when you might want to ease up, in a training session for instance, but it’s the worst thing you can do. My mindset, therefore, is to keep going, to keep ploughing through those tough moments when they do come along.
I’m proud to have played for five clubs during my career and I look out for all if them, to see how they’re doing. Of all my former teams, Leyton Orient is the first game I look for when the fixtures are released, simply because they’re the team I turned pro with and I had some good times there. They’re a club that will always remain close to my heart and it was a great day when they returned to the Football League again.
On the flipside, it’s been horrible to see Southend United going in the other direction last season. With the fanbase they have, they’re a big club and shouldn’t be anywhere near the lower reaches of the National League table. They’ve had a big turnaround of managers in recent years but I think the problems lie much deeper than that. They need new investment at the top and I wish my old Orient team-mate, Jason Demetriou, all the best having taken over as interim head coach recently. Let’s hope he can turn their form around.
There’s no doubt, however, that my most successful period has been these past five years with Crawley. I came in as third-choice keeper, with the premise of bringing the younger keepers through, but here I am having now made over 200 league appearances for the club.
When I do finally hang the gloves up, Crawley will be the club I’ll look back on with the fondest memories. It’s the club where I’ve felt most at home and I’ve got into the rhythm of performing well, week in, week out. You always play better when you’re at your more comfortable off the pitch – which has certainly been the case for me here.
I’ve also been at the club during a time when we’ve firmly established ourselves in League Two, which has been a real achievement because our budget isn’t the greatest and we don’t have the biggest crowds in the division either. We are often punching above our weight but always seem to steer clear of trouble. Why? Well, we have a great team spirit, a togetherness as players and coaching staff, and we have a good home record.
Long may that continue!
On the spot
Glenn takes a look back at his 20-year career
Fave game: At Crawley we played Leeds in the FA Cup last season, beating them 3-0. Sadly, we had no fans present, which took a bit of the shine off the day, but it was still a fantastic win and great personally to keep a clean sheet. They had some fantastic players and I was also given Iker Casilla’s shirt as well.
Highlight: Winning the Player of the Year award three years in a row, and in one of them I won the Players’ Player award as well. I also won promotion to League One with Orient, but I didn’t play regularly that season.
Lowlight: I had a bad rupture of my thigh at Aldershot, saw a specialist in London, and he said it’s likely that I would have to call it a day. Thankfully I got a second opinion and saw a physio who tried shockwave therapy, which broke down a lot of scar tissue. Nine years later, I’m still here!
Best save: At Crawley, we played Doncaster at home and I made a double-save off a late penalty which was pretty memorable. I also remember making a couple of good saves up at Bolton last season when we were under the cosh, and came away with a 1-0 win.
Best keeper played against: Of the keepers who have gone on to play at the highest level, I’ve come against Joe Hart, Tom Heaton, Kasper Schmeichel, and I played with Nick Pope at Aldershot, who came in after I got injured.
Biggest influence: I would have to say my family. They have always been there for me, through the ups and downs.
Funniest team-mate: Danny Bulman. He never took anything too seriously. We’d be in the middle of a game and at a really serious moment and he’d be just messing around. And he was 42 years of age at the time!
Finally, advice to youngsters you can pass on: Be patient. I didn’t come into my own until I was in my thirties. Also work hard at all aspects of your game. Sometimes, young keepers don’t want to do the repetitive stuff, the handling for instance, they think it’s beyond them. But it’s not all about making top- corner saves. You have to get the basics right first.