This feature was originally published in the programme for Saturday's win over Newport County.
Life can always throw up the unexpected.
For Glenn Morris, that rang true when he joined the Reds in 2016 as a player-coach. Two and a half years later, and having made his 100th Crawley appearance last Saturday at Colchester, Morris is now a permanent fixture between the sticks.
“In football you don’t know how things are going to work out, and I certainly didn’t expect this. I got the chance to play, and I had to take it,” he says of the opportunity handed to him by Dermot Drummy and Matt Gray in his first season at the Broadfield.
Morris was principally employed to assist the development of young Mitch Beeney and Yusuf Mersin, but soon found himself in the starting line up as a beneficiary of Drummy’s willingness to give game time across the squad.
He made his debut in a 2-0 win over Luton Town at the Broadfield Stadium and impressed so much that he’s been a regular. In 99 games since, the Woolwich-born stopper has some fine memories of his 100 games so far. “It’s obviously always about when you make a late save at the end of the game, so that one on away at Accrington last season stood out for me where we were hanging on and I made a save which turned out to be literally the last action of the game.”
Perhaps it’s his modesty, but there was little mention of his two successive penalty saves against Doncaster Rovers and Carlisle, until reminded. “Yeah, I like to think I had quite a big part in those games.” However, it’s his connection with the fans that Glenn remembers more than any save.
“Winning Player of the Season twice in a row was also a really proud moment for me. I’ve got a great rapport with the Crawley fans and I’m really enjoying my football. This is probably the happiest I’ve been for a long time. I’m getting well into my thirties now and I’m enjoying it.”
Happiness is key for Morris, too. Before Crawley he was at Gillingham and was desperate for a change. “I was second choice. That wasn’t where I wanted to be at the stage in my career and I wasn’t happy. I only played a dozen games in the season there.” He offered an apprehensive ‘yes’ to a hopeful phone enquiry from Drummy’s assistant Matt Gray and things changed from there. “I got the call from Matt and, at the time, I wasn’t sure if a coaching role was right for me yet, I thought it was a bit early. He told me it was a good opportunity so I came to meet Dermot and decided to join, and honestly it was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
While Morris has remained a permanent fixture on the pitch, off it he is now working under his third manager in Gabriele Cioffi and he has enjoyed the challenges that a change of coach has given him. “There’s been a bit of change but that’s football. You’ve got to adapt and move on. You take on board what the new manager wants and you go from there. Harry Kewell came in and his style of play was different to other manager’s styles and you have to adapt to it or you won’t be in the team.”
So what are the 34-year-old’s aspirations for this season? He has already been a huge player for the Reds in home wins against Morecambe, Yeovil, Cambridge and as part of the side that kept top of the league Lincoln at bay on their own patch. For him, it’s his performance against Cambridge that has been the highlight. “There was one I tipped it over the bar in the first half that I really enjoyed,” he said. “I was busy in that game but we managed to stay in it. I knew that going forward if I could keep them out then we were always going to score goals.”
Crawley are in a healthy position in Sky Bet League Two, and rather than being at full stretch stopping a 30-yard bullet, Morris keeps his feet firmly on the ground. “Hopefully in the future I can talk about us getting promoted or something, but at the moment it’s been all about getting the three points this afternoon.”
Happy 100 Glenn, and here’s to another century.