South Melbourne FC Vice Captain Brad Norton will make his 100th League appearance for the Club in the NPL Victoria Grand Final this Sunday.
Norton was signed by former South coach Peter Tsolakis in November 2011 and arrived at Lakeside Stadium having previously represented the Melbourne Knights, Northcote City and Adelaide United.
He made his SMFC debut in the 4-0 win against the Moreland Zebras at Lakeside Stadium in the opening round of the 2012 Victorian Premier League season. Norton’s first year at SMFC was difficult, with the team failing to make the finals in 2012 and also being bundled out of the Dockerty Cup by lower division opposition. He scored his first League goal in May of that season against the Melbourne Knights, however it was to be a consolation goal only as the Knights won the derby 1-2.
Norton scored the opening goal of South’s 2013 season with a header against Green Gully and backed that up with another goal a fortnight later as South began that season with three straight League wins. In the Fifth Round Dockerty Cup tie against Northcote City on the Queen’s Birthday Monday in June, Norton steamed up the field and scored the winning goal in extra time as South defeated Northcote City 3-2 in what was a thrilling Cup tie at Lakeside Stadium.
Following the departure of Tsolakis and several players halfway through the 2013 season, Norton assumed the captaincy for most of the remainder of that season. New coach Chris Taylor dropped him from the starting line-up following an error he made in the second-last match of the home & away season against Northcote City, however he still contributed from the bench during the rest of that season. In the final match of the home & away season against Port Melbourne, Norton came on as an 86th minute substitute before scoring a headed goal four minutes later as South won the match 4-0 and qualified for the Finals Series.
The 2014 NPL Victoria season was a mark of consistency for SMFC as Taylor’s side won their opening fourteen matches across all competitions on the way to winning the League Championship via first past the post. Norton featured in 31 of South’s 32 matches across all competitions in 2014 and established a strong defensive partnership with Michael Eagar and Tim Mala that has continued into 2015. Norton has started 34 of South’s 35 matches across all competitions in 2015 and has only missed one game through suspension.
Over the past few years, Norton has shown supreme fitness and has nailed the left fullback role as his own. In a sign of his consistency and loyalty, he is the only player remaining from the beginning of the 2012 season and along with Leigh Minopoulos are the only two current SMFC players not initially signed by Chris Taylor. He has been one of South’s best performers this season and will want to continue his great form in Sunday’s Grand Final against the Bentleigh Greens.
Brad Norton becomes only the ninth SMFC player in the post-NSL era to represent the Club in over 100 League matches. He joins the likes of Dean Anastasiadis, Tansel Baser, Con Blatsis, Vaughan Coveny, Fernando De Moraes, Gianni De Nittis, Steven O’Dor and Rama Tavsancioglu in reaching the milestone. He recently signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at Lakeside until the end of 2017 and can reach 150 League matches for the Club if he continues his consistency.
We congratulate Brad Norton on his achievement and wish him the best for Sunday’s Grand Final!
Brad Norton’s SMFC Overview
Signed: November 2011
League Debut: 4-0 v Moreland Zebras at Lakeside Stadium (Sunday 25 March 2012).
First League Goal: 1-2 v Melbourne Knights at Lakeside Stadium (Sunday 20 May 2012).
50 League Games: 5-3 v Green Gully at Green Gully Reserve (Saturday 5 April 2014).
2012 VPL season: 22 games (21 starts, 1 subs), 2 goals
2013 VPL season: 24 games (21 starts, 3 subs), 5 goals
2014 NPL season: 27 games (22 starts, 5 subs), 0 goals
2015 NPL season: 26 games (26 starts, 0 subs), 2 goals
Overall Summary: 99 games (90 starts, 9 subs), 9 goals