Fame beckons record breaking shearer

By Geoff Adams

A record-breaking shearer, who used his skills to educate people in Third World countries, will be honoured with an elevation to the Shearers’ Hall of Fame this year.

Brian Morrison, a former VFL footballer who gave up his sport in favour of a job, was born in Longwood and now lives in Benalla.

Curiously, his grandson Harry Morrison, 20, now plays for Hawthorn in the AFL, and told Country News he knew about his grandfather’s footballing career and always looked up to him.

But things have changed since Brian played for Richmond in the 1960s.

Brian went to practice twice a week and was expected to hold down a separate job.

For Harry, football is full-time. Brian had one coach, Harry has about 10.

Brian played for only one season because he had his heart set on earning enough money to buy his own farm and couldn’t see that goal being realised if he followed the football.

And he had considerable skill as a shearer, going on to win state and national titles in shearing competitions and representing Australia in New Zealand at the Golden Shears competitions.

He also represented Australia at the international expo in Japan in 1970.

Brian brought national attention to Euroa and his hometown of Longwood in 1972 when he sheared 410 Merino weaners in the RSL Hall in seven hours and 48 minutes to create several new world records.

At one point he was shearing each animal in under one minute.

The son of a railway station master at Longwood, Brian learned to shear when he was about 14 years old at the Salesian Catholic College in Sunbury.

One of nine children, he raised pocket money in rural work including hay carting and rabbiting.

He nurtured a dream of owning his own farm and eventually he and wife Judy got their farm.

Brian’s reputation grew quickly after the record-breaking event, and he was commissioned by the Federal Government to teach shearing in India as part of an overseas aid program.

In 1973 he and Judy started a business making clothes designed to cater for the unique requirements of the shearer.

Eventually this business, Morrisons of Euroa, extended to making clothing for the mainstream, including sheepskin coats and jackets, and at its peak employed up to 75 people.

They also provided some of the wardrobe for the iconic Australian film, The Man from Snowy River, which was filmed near Mansfield.

The couple also got to have lunch with film star Kirk Douglas.

Brian’s memory is not as good as it once was, but he does not hesitate when asked how he felt after completing the 1972 shearing record: ‘‘buggered!’’.

He was so fatigued the doctor in the crowd was beginning to worry about him, and he was dehydrated for hours after the event.

Brian, Judy and family members hope to attend the Shearers’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Easter as part of the Festival of the Blades at Shear Outback in Hay, NSW.

There will be a dinner at the Hay Services Club on Saturday, April 20.

■For more information, phone Kathy Finn at Shear Outback on (02) 6993 4000 or email: [email protected]