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Billy Meredith: Soccer Giants X.
Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2023-04-12 14:25:52
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GRANVILLE MORRIS — SOCCER'S FINEST INSIDE-LEFT
— Billy Meredith | 09/12/1934 —
Let me introduce you to the finest inside left the world has ever seen — the player who used to train on tennis and eat plenty of rice pudding! Granville Morris is his name.
Morris played for Aberystwyth Swindon Town and Nottingham Forest. He was a Welsh international, and was more famous when with the Forest, which club he served for fifteen years, finishing his career just before the war.
He was a great player; a brilliant schemer, a tricky dribbler and a fine shot. Morris used to find himself a very much marked man, and usually got a knock or two from opponents who were not too careful about the way they tackled him, but I never knew Morris to retaliate. Yet never would he shirk a tackle.
I played on numerous occasions in the same Welsh team as Morris. He and I developed an understanding such as existed between myself and Sandy Turnbull with Manchester United. I used to cross the ball to Morris, and with either foot, or with his head, Morris placed them into the net with amazing regularity.
Morris and Alf Spencer formed a brilliant left wing, and some idea of the strength of the Forest attack in those days may be gauged by the fact that Knocker West was then leading the line.
NOT FOR ANY CLUB.
I recall one game at Clayton rather vividly in the old Manchester United days. We took some beating then, as our records show, but the Nottingham club once came and defeated us 6—1. Morris got three goals that day, and West the other three.
It was arising out of that game, which, if memory serves me right, was played about 1909, that West was transferred to Manchester United. But the man of the match was Morris, whose transfer, however, could not be secured by any club.
Morris played in twenty-one international games altogether, but he would have had a lot more had he not had to forgo many on account of club duty.
Another 1909 memory takes me back to the Ireland-Wales international on Linfield's ground at Belfast — the first time I had played on that ground.
Wales won the match 3—2 thanks to two brilliant individualistic efforts and two goals from Morris in the last five minutes.
Morris was a brilliant tennis player, and he declared he did not need to do ordinary training because this sport, at which he would be constantly engaged, summer and winter alike, always kept him fit.
STILL PLAYING TENNIS?
I believe he still plays the game. But I wonder if he is still as fond of rice pudding?
On a Saturday before any match Morris would insist on having his "tooth-sweetener," and no matter how much he was ridiculed he would say that he could not play unless he had had his potion of pudding.
Talking about players who had a penchant for "strange" food before a match. I recall that Archie Goodall, of Derby County, used to have sponge cake and lemonade before taking part in a game, and that Max Woosnam, the famous Manchester City amateur centre half and equally famous tennis player, would have a full course lunch and a pint of beer!
What would modern trainers think of this?
When Granville Morris retired from football he sent a requisition to the F.A. to be reinstated as an amateur in order that he might play in amateur tennis competitions.
A professional footballer is not allowed to play amateur tennis, although he may play in amateur golf tournaments, etc. Why this strange anomaly, I do not know, but to the lasting shame of the F.A. Morris's request was refused.
Another great inside left was the late Sandy Turnbull (Manchester United) who was killed in the War. This Scot joined Manchester City as a youth of eighteen and before he was twenty he played in a Cup Final against Bolton Wanderers, which we won by an only goal — scored myself.
ONE OF BEST HEADERS.
Turnbull and I had a long association together, first with the City and then the United. Sandy was one of the greatest headers of a ball I know. It was he who scored the only goal in the Cup Final between Manchester United and Bristol City in 1909.
Horace Barnes (Derby, Manchester City and Ashton National) was another fine inside left. Billy Gillespie (Sheffield United and Irish international), who is now a manager in Ireland, was another brilliant, and so, too, was Clem Stephenson (Villa and Huddersfield) — now managing the latter club — and Joe Smith (Bolton), a deadly shot.
To-day there can be no doubt as to who is the best inside left in the country. The one and only Alex James, of Arsenal, has the honour.
James is one of the highlights of football. He can shift the play at will, and I like nothing better than his crosses to the right wing. How they open out the game, and catch a defence on the "hop."
Before James went to Raith Rovers and to Preston North End, I recommended him to Manchester City. He was then a junior in Glasgow. The City went to watch him, and told me that they wanted lamplighters not bantams!
THAT'S ENTERRPRISE — THAT WAS!
Eventually, he went to Raith and Preston North End apparently were the only club who would take the plunge. After some years of great service with the North End they received a huge transfer fee — round about £9,000 — from Arsenal for him. Enterprise!
It will be remembered that when James was Raith Millwall offered £10,000 for the whole Raith attack consisting of Peter Bell (who went to Manchester City), Duncan (Leicester City), Jennings (Leeds United), James and Archibald (Stoke City). Sold singly the aggregate of transfer fees was about £17,000.
Other famous inside lefts to-day are Astley (Aston Villa) — whom I place next to James — Westwood (Bolton Wanderers), Malam (Huddersfield), Bruce (Middlesbrough) and Tilson (Manchester City).
Tilson is now leading the City attack and has represented England as leader, but I still regard him as a better inside left.
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