Mark Fairles Morton
Morton, born in Nowra, attended The King’s School in Sydney. He went from The Kings School to Sydney University, where he was awarded five Blues in 1930, 1931, 1932, 1934 and 1935. He studied law. Before his first Blue, in 1929, he became part of history when he played for the First Australian Universities team, which toured New Zealand that year.
His first entrée into representative football against other countries was for NSW against the visiting All Blacks of 1932. A hooker, he was in somewhat of a disadvantage in those years for when it came to Tests Queensland had the remarkable all-round athlete Eddie Bonis, called “the prince of hookers”. However, in his first top-level representative game, against New Zealand at the SCG, Howell, et al, wrote: “Morton had a good day in the scrums.” NSW lost narrowly, 11 to 13. Other Sydney University players that day for the Blues were Alec Ross and Dinny Love. The captain was Syd Malcolm.
On the basis of his form he was selected for the return NSW match. New Zealand had geared up by this time and ran away from NSW by 27 to 3. Bonis played in all the Tests.
In 1933 Mark Morton was selected on the history-making first tour of South Africa. Bonis was the other selected hooker. At this point in time Morton was 22 years of age, five foot ten inches in height and 164 pounds in weight.
Morton would play only six matches on the tour, whereas Bonis played in 17. There were five Tests, Bonis playing in each one. J.G.Clark and Bill Cerutti had runs as hooker against the other teams. Morton played against Western Transvaal (won 20 to 3), Griqualand West (9-14), Rhodesia (won 31-0), North-Eastern Districts (won 31-11), Border (won 13-6), South-Western Districts (won 21-14) and Western Province Universities (drew 3-3). He scored tries against Rhodesia and North-Eastern Districts. On the surface, it would appear that he was under-utilised, but he could hold his head high as he was only in one losing game, whereas the Wallabies lost ten of their 23 games.
Morton did not give up, however, and was back playing for NSW against the 1934 All Blacks. He, Alec Ross and Bill White were the only University players on the Alec Ross captained Blues team. It was a close 18 to 16 win for the All Blacks. In the return encounter, Rex Larnach-Jones, from Randwick, took over the hooker role. These were the only two NSW games.
When the Maori team of 1935 arrived, Morton was picked in the first NSW game, and NZ won an exciting game by a narrow 6 to 5 score. He was in the second and third matches, the first won by NSW 20 to 13 and the third lost 5 to 14. In the third match, Howell, et al, wrote: “NSW registered its only points when Morton forced his way over from close range and Cyril Towers converted.”
That was the extent of a very honourable rugby career. Morton would not play a Test , but played in seven Australia representative games. What must be put in the equation is that from 1930-35 he played a highly meritorious 23 times for NSW. Unfortunately, Queensland’s Eddie Bonis was at his peak in the same time period as Mark Morton.