Sport Revered sports broadcaster Drew Morphett dead at 69

Revered sports broadcaster Drew Morphett dead at 69

Drew Morphett
Morphett was reportedly found by his wife late last night at their Pakenham home. Photo: Twitter
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Veteran Australian sports broadcaster Drew Morphett has died suddenly in his Melbourne home Friday night, prompting tributes to a seasoned career calling AFL, cricket and four Olympic Games.

Former Carlton captain and fellow Australian Broadcasting Corporation commentator Mark McClure told the ABC’s Coodabeen Champions on Saturday that Morphett, 69, died doing what he loved.

“He died … watching the footy with a glass of red in his hand. What other way would you want him to go?,” McClure said.

“He made a craft out of it [sports calling], he was superb,” he said.

Morphett, who received an Order of Australia Medal in 2014 for his contribution to broadcasting, was born in Sydney and grew up in the Cronulla region.

He started his career at the ABC in his hometown of Sydney in 1966.

The sports caller then moved to Perth to work in the ABC’s sports department, and later went to Melbourne to join a documentary program called Sportsnight.

ABC Grandstand‘s Gerard Whateley told the ABC the commentary box was under a “deep pall of sadness” on Saturday.

“For 50 years Drew Morphett sat in these seats and many like them with headphones on, sharing with all of us the theatre and passion of sport,” he said.

“Such a distinctive voice lost to us, but not soon forgotten.”

In one of his final tweets, the broadcaster was photographed sitting next to Melbourne Storm rugby league captain Cameron Smith on a flight back from Sydney last Sunday.

Morphett enjoyed a long career working for the ABC in radio and television and is best known for his Australian Rules Football commentary.

When not describing the play of Australian Football League and Victorian Football League matches, he was the eyes and ears of the tennis, cricket, cycling, hockey and diving.

Morphett was the host of ABC TV’s weekly VFL show The Winners for ten years during the 1980s.

He joined the Seven Network in 1988 and commentated Australian Rules Football matches when the network won back the rights to televising the AFL.

While at the network he was also the caller on three series of International Rules between Australian and Ireland.

Morphett also commentated golf, basketball and many other sports, as well as four Olympic Games, where his main sports were cycling and diving.

Sports commentators, news readers and colleagues from around Australia have posted messages on social media to pay tribute to the broadcasting legend as the sad news broke on Saturday.

Long-term cricket broadcasting colleague Jim Maxwell tweeted: “We’ve lost a friend and a very special sports caller. Drew Morphett …onya mate, ever a cheeky smile, laughter and another glass of red.”

AFL journalist Rohan Connolly said Morphett was a “terrific caller” and person.

“What made Drew Morphett such a great commentator? Above everything, genuine passion and a sense of sport as fun. He was a big part of that,” he tweeted.

Richmond legend Kevin Bartlett posted: “I feel so sad with the passing of Drew Morphett. A wonderful and generous broadcaster. I loved working with him. RIP”.