Tommy Morris who has died aged 84 had been a member of Clifton Cricket Club for 68 years. He joined the Club in 1953 and quickly established himself in the second team as a very useful all-rounder. As a bowler Tommy was the classic league cricketer, economical in his run-up and stockily built, his medium pace was unfailingly accurate with a low trajectory. He could bowl all afternoon if required, often up the hill at Clifton keeping one end tied down, his wicket taking delivery often the ‘pea-roller’ which trapped many batsmen leg before and earned him career best figures of 9 wickets for 9 runs. A tough opponent and a fierce competitor Tommy made the most of his ability and would regularly give a batsman the benefit of his advice when he felt they were having too much luck. A middle order batsman he had his own style and often infuriated the quicker bowlers by giving himself room to the leg side and slashing the ball to the third man boundary; alternatively, he would 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 the Halliwell 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 representative appearance for the B&DCA. During the late1970s and through the 1980s he was a key member of the second team which won the Hardcastle Shield [League championship] in 1982 and the Halliwell Shield [Cup] in 1983. In 1984 at the age of 47 he was recalled to the first team to play in the Cross Cup final defeat to Adlington scoring 15 in a valiant last wicket partnership which almost won the game.
He continued to play cricket into the 1990s and he enjoyed his latter playing days in the newly formed third team where having shortened his run-up to a couple of paces he still bowled with such accuracy and control that he took a hatful of wickets until he finally hung up his boots at the age of 60. Across four decades, in whichever team he played he was one of the first players 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 the Club 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 three separate occasions and was a contender many times over. His special contribution for over four decades was to maintain, or ‘fettle’ the club machinery. All mowers, rollers, and tractors were expertly maintained by him and his care extended the life of many machines, some lasting over forty years themselves, and saving the club many hundreds of pounds. Any groundsman leaving a machine covered in grass and mud would often receive a telling off from Tom.
He also specialised in restoring our cricket balls in the days when one new ball had to last a first, second and then junior game before being consigned to practice. His method was unique in coating the ball with a substance similar to varnish then drying them in the oven producing a razor-sharp seam, his garden shed at home being stacked with boxes of balls. He was often questioned by umpires and captains about the hardness of the ball culminating in one game at Edgworth when in typical exasperation he flung a box of balls onto the field shouting “tek ‘em all!”
Following his retirement from Chloride in 1999 he spent many week-day afternoons on the club, firstly with Tom Boardman, then with Trevor Dempster ensuring the club was kept well maintained, tidy and looked after to a high standard. After acquiring a new tractor, the ‘Toro’, he was happy to sit on it and sedately mow the outfield each week until he was eighty years of age.
Tommy Morris was made a Life Member in 1988 and was elected President from 1993 to 1999, the two highest honours the Club can bestow. He spoke through his hands and through the dedicated, consistent contribution he made over a lifetime both as a player and a committee man. The legacy he leaves is 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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