Look back on the life of strong-running winger, Mick Morris, who died on 16th March 2020.
Mick, known as ‘Marathon Man’ was born in Plaistow, Essex on 20th January 1943, but grew up in Dagenham. He began his career as a footballer in the youth set up at Barking of the Isthmian League. He moved on to Grays Athletic and then had a spell at West Ham, without making the first team. He then played for Faversham Town before signing for Oxford United in 1964 at the age of 21.
Ron Atkinson was a teammate at Oxford and in his first season with them, they gained promotion from the Fourth Division, as he made 32 appearances and scored 3 goals. They established themselves in Division Three before Mick joined the Vale in July 1967, having scored 5 goals in 95 games for Oxford, the second new signing made by new team manager Sir Stanley Matthews after Roy Chapman. Mick returned early from his honeymoon to sign, such was the lure of playing for Sir Stan! He made his Vale debut in September 1967 in a 1-0 home defeat against Chesterfield and scored his first goal for the club in a 4-1 win over Brentford a month later. He was used as a winger or centre forward and in his first season scored 6 goals in 31 appearances. That was the season when Vale had the trauma of being forced to seek re-election the league after being found guilty of making illegal payments to players.
Gordon Lee took over in the summer of 1968 and when the team gained promotion in 1969/70 Mick was an important cog in the wheel. The team went on what is still a club record 19 games without defeat and Mick only missed one game that season on the opening day. A 1-1 draw against Notts County at Vale Park virtually sealed promotion as the club had a far superior goal difference to Brentford and Mick was the man who scored the important goal. Mick then scored for the Vale in a friendly 3-2 victory at Stoke City to celebrate promotion. Every Vale fan over the age of 55 will remember the ‘We’ve got Micky Micky Micky Morris on the wing, on the wing’ chant!
He was ever-present in 1970/71 but after the 1971/72 campaign he was released on a free transfer as Gordon Lee said ‘it was time for a few fresh faces’. He had scored 25 goals in 200 appearances for the Vale. After leaving the Vale Mick joined Stafford Rangers, then one of the leading non-league teams in the country. He helped them to reach the 4th Round of the FA Cup in 1974/75, losing 2-1 to Peterborough in front of over 31,000 at Stoke’s Victoria Ground.
In 1976 he was part of the side that lost 3-2 to Scarborough at Wembley Stadium in the final of the FA Trophy. After leaving Stafford in 1977 he joined Leek Town for a spell. After his football career was over he settled in the local area at Clayton, working for many years at the Michelin, and it comes as no surprise that with his playing style he ran the first ten Potteries marathons, which began in 1982. He also completed the London marathon twice.
After a double heart bypass operation, he curtailed his running but was a keen golfer, and was a part-time assistant greenkeeper at Barlaston.