DOG DAYS ARE FINE FOR STEVE GOOD WILL HUNTING
Brentford new boy Will Grigg bids to give the Bees extra sting
STEVE MORISON’S career has been going to the dogs for the past 12 months – but he’s determined to enjoy a new leash of life back at Millwall.
Morison has returned to the Lions after a torrid year in which he found himself out of favour at Norwich and then frozen out at Leeds by Brian McDermott.
His problems at the Canaries meant his strike partnership with Grant Holt was fleeting but they have flourished off the pitch by launching their own greyhound racing club.
They own six young greyhounds and, for animal lover Morison, not even the excitement of scoring a goal tops the experience of watching his dogs win.
“I’m a fan of animals and greyhounds are a big buzz,” said Morison, who regularly visited Walthamstow Stadium in London to watch the dogs as a boy.
“I’ve scored goals, I’ve won games, but watching your dog win a race gives you a completely different buzz.
“We’ve bought our own kennels – we move in at the end of the month – and we’re just getting bigger and bigger.
“I’ve got animals coming out of my ears at home. Dogs, cats, horses, goats, ducks, chickens, chipmunks. You name it I’ve got it. Away from football the greyhounds are a nice break.” They have provided much-needed respite for the 29-year-old over the last 12 months. “It’s been a rubbish year,” said Morison, who scored 40 goals across two seasons in his first stint with The Lions.
“I ended it on a high with Paul Lambert at Norwich then had a frustrating six months under Chris Hughton. “He wanted to play one up front and to play Grant so I had to wait for my chance. Leeds was disappointing, not much positive to say about that. “I turned up first day of pre-season for Leeds, the manager told me he didn’t want me and I could leave, so I left. It’s pretty black and white really.
“Once I made a few phone calls and knew Millwall were interested it was a no-brainer.
“I’m close to the chairman and friends with people there. I picked up the phone knowing they’d welcome me.
“We’ve got some good new players which is fantastic, and hopefully we can push on and have a good season – a better one than we did last year.”
WHEN Will Grigg arrived at Brentford he promptly informed his new teammates he believes he can fly – and not for the first time one of League One’s sharpest shooters raised a few eyebrows.
Just turned 22, having bagged 20 goals for one of the league’s less glamorous sides and with his Walsall contract up, Grigg was not wanting for Championship admirers. Even Norwich and Southampton were reportedly eyeing up the Northern Ireland international.
A move to West London isn’t surprising for one of the Football League’s hottest properties, but League One Brentford would not be top of most people’s lists. So when the Bees captured Grigg their title odds were unsurprisingly slashed. There is method in the apparent madness however. With Uwe Rosler at the helm, a new stadium in the pipeline and with money to spend – not to mention how agonisingly close they came to promotion last season – Grigg saw a club with the ambition to match his own, and one willing to put their cards on the table.
“There were some clubs higher up sniffing around but a lot of it is rumours,” he said. “What you care about is a club that comes in for you and makes you an offer and that’s what Brentford did.
“I joined the lads on a pre-season tour in Germany and settled in pretty well. It was the first move of my career really so the initiations were new to me. I had to do a song and I went for I Believe I can Fly by R Kelly. It was a solid choice I think, at no stage did I enjoy it but it definitely could have been worse.
“When a club comes in for you and does so properly you have to listen and having met with the chairman (Cliff Crown) and a manager with a reputation like Uwe’s, my mind was made up.
“They made it clear that they wanted me and that I’d get the chance to play and that’s what’s important.”
There was an air of inevitability over Grigg’s departure from the Bescot Stadium. He scored ten goals in his last 11 league games for Walsall and, with his contract due to expire, the buyers were circling.
Saddlers boss Dean Smith always harboured hopes of tying his man down and was disappointed to see Grigg leave. He still expects a tribunal to ensure appropriate recompense.
Reports that Smith and Grigg parted on bad terms, however, are wide of the mark.
Smith’s biggest bugbear was that his former charge’s agent did not secure him a better move while Grigg is the first to admit his ex-boss is the reason he scored four goals the season before last, and five times as many the next.
“It was extremely tough to leave Walsall, Dean and I were very close, he played such a major role in making me into the player that I am, making me comfortable in the division,” added Grigg, who shone in Brentford’s midweek 3-2 friendly win over Cardiff, along with Everton loanee Conor McAleny.
“He gave me great confidence and it was hard to leave but we parted on good terms and I think he’s someone I’ll always stay in touch with.
“I don’t worry about staying in League One. You can look at it two ways, either it’s a division that I know I have proven myself in or one that defenders know about me in.
“I can’t be worrying about those sort of things though, that’s for other people, I just have to keep my head on and keep focused about my new challenge at Brentford. I felt it was time to leave Walsall and give myself a new start.”
It’s 20 years since Brentford were last in the second tier of English football and never have they come closer to a return that last term.
First it was Marcello Trotta’s missed penalty – and Doncaster’s subsequent winner – and then it was Wembley heartache in the play-off final, and not for the first time.
Grigg, however, does not sense any lingering regrets at Griffin Park.
He said:“It’s something that’s out of the system, you can tell at the club that it’s a positive. There’s a feeling of coming so close but a feeling of strengthening and being ready to go one better this season.
“Looking at the players who have come in, it’s clear that the manager and chairman have their aims and it’s a club that straight away I wanted to be a part of.”
HOME BOY: Steve Morison playing for Millwall in 2011. Below: with Grant Holt at a greyhound meeting
ON THE UP: Brentford new-boy Will Grigg, in action for Walsall. Inset, left, boss Uwe Rosler, and after the last day drama against Doncaster