Tommy Morris who has died aged 84 had been a member ofClifton Cricket Club for 68 years. He joined the Club in 1953 and quicklyestablished himself in the second team as a very useful all-rounder. As abowler Tommy was the classic league cricketer, economical in his run-up andstockily built, his medium pace was unfailingly accurate with a low trajectory.He could bowl all afternoon if required, often up the hill at Clifton keepingone end tied down, his wicket taking delivery often the ‘pea-roller’ whichtrapped many batsmen leg before and earned him career best figures of 9 wicketsfor 9 runs. A tough opponent and a fierce competitor Tommy made the most of hisability and would regularly give a batsman the benefit of his advice when hefelt they were having too much luck. A middle order batsman he had his ownstyle and often infuriated the quicker bowlers by giving himself room to theleg side and slashing the ball to the third man boundary; alternatively, hewould hit the ball through mid-wicket with a shot described by team mates as a‘scutch’.
Tommy was a member of the second team which won theHalliwell Shield in 1959 but during the 1960s he became a first team regular,played in the Cross Cup winning side of 1973 and made a representativeappearance for the B&DCA. During the late1970s and through the 1980s he wasa key member of the second team which won the Hardcastle Shield [Leaguechampionship] in 1982 and the Halliwell Shield [Cup] in 1983. In 1984 at theage of 47 he was recalled to the first team to play in the Cross Cup finaldefeat to Adlington scoring 15 in a valiant last wicket partnership whichalmost won the game.
He continued to play cricket into the 1990s and he enjoyedhis latter playing days in the newly formed third team where having shortenedhis run-up to a couple of paces he still bowled with such accuracy and controlthat he took a hatful of wickets until he finally hung up his boots at the ageof 60. Across four decades, in whichever team he played he was one of the firstplayers on the team sheet, totally reliable and committed to the Clifton cause,his opponents knew they had always been in a game.
Tommy Morris was elected to the General Committee of theClub in 1956 and served until his death for 65 years, rarely missing a meeting.He was awarded the Ron Wilkinson Trophy for services to the club on threeseparate occasions and was a contender many times over. His specialcontribution for over four decades was to maintain, or ‘fettle’ the clubmachinery. All mowers, rollers, and tractors were expertly maintained by himand his care extended the life of many machines, some lasting over forty yearsthemselves, and saving the club many hundreds of pounds. Any groundsman leavinga machine covered in grass and mud would often receive a telling off from Tom.
He also specialised in restoring our cricket balls in thedays when one new ball had to last a first, second and then junior game beforebeing consigned to practice. His method was unique in coating the ball with asubstance similar to varnish then drying them in the oven producing a razor-sharpseam, his garden shed at home being stacked with boxes of balls. He was oftenquestioned by umpires and captains about the hardness of the ball culminatingin one game at Edgworth when in typical exasperation he flung a box of ballsonto the field shouting “tek ‘em all!”
Following his retirement from Chloride in 1999 he spentmany week-day afternoons on the club, firstly with Tom Boardman, then withTrevor Dempster ensuring the club was kept well maintained, tidy and lookedafter to a high standard. After acquiring a new tractor, the ‘Toro’, he washappy to sit on it and sedately mow the outfield each week until he was eightyyears of age.
Tommy Morris was made a Life Member in 1988 and was electedPresident from 1993 to 1999, the two highest honours the Club can bestow. Hespoke through his hands and through the dedicated, consistent contribution hemade over a lifetime both as a player and a committee man. The legacy he leavesis seen in his family who survive him, and who continue to serve the Club.
He will be very much missed and our sympathy is with Joyce,Gail, Ian and Christopher, and all of Tom’s family.
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