Above: ‘Chopper’ Morris receiving his ‘100 cap’ from Club President Stan Addicott, 15th Dec. 2018.
The sad news was received on Sunday of the passing of a great club man Gordon ‘Chopper’ Morris at the age of 95. He was probably the oldest surviving former player for Swansea RFC. Known affectionately as ‘chopper’ Morris both for his no nonsense style of play and also as a reference to his employment with the Forestry Commission, Gordon gave loyal service to the ‘All Whites’ both as a player and administrator, over many years.
Playing at lock and back row Morris’ early club was Lydney RFC in Gloucestershire but moves to the Pontypridd and Newport clubs established his name as a hardened member of any pack he joined. For Newport Gordon played 76 matches and scoring 8 tries between 1953 and 1956 He represented that club against the fourth All Blacks in a closely fought game narrowly lost by 6 points to 11 on 21st January 1954.
Gordon joined Swansea RFC from Newport in the 1956-57 season, quickly becoming a regular for the 1st XV and playing 34 matches including those against a German XV and then an Italian XV at St Helen’s. The following season Morris’ consistency was again illustrated as he finished with 34 games under his belt, just one match behind Dudley Moore’s season record. Often picked as a stand-out performer in match reports Gordon was a member of the Swansea side that put up a tremendous performance against the touring Australians, losing 6 – 12 at St Helen’s on 11th January 1958.
The next two seasons at St Helen’s saw Morris in 1958-59 with 37 matches, just a match short of the player with the most appearances (Marsden Young) and in 1959-60 he notched up 34 again, but this time as deserved captain of the club he had served so well. He also led the side on an end of season tour to France where Aviron Bayonnaise and Tarbes were played.
On 26th November 1960 Gordon Morris completed his set of appearances against the southern hemisphere ‘big three’ by appearing for Swansea at St Helen’s in a hard-fought encounter with South Africa who eventually overcame a courageous Swansea pack to win 19 – 3. 1961-62 was Morris’ last complete season and anno domini and his increasing responsibilities at work meant he retired from playing with just one appearance in 1962-63. He had made a total of 193 appearances for his beloved ‘All Whites’ and turned out against the Barbarians six times in a career marked by committed play and support of his team mates.
Swansea RFC President Stan Addicott has commented: “Following his successful playing career with the Swansea club he followed some of his contemporaries such as Viv Davies, Len and Norman Blyth, Gwyn Lewis, Horace Phillips, Dickie Dobbs and Dudley Thomas – all great stalwarts from another era – onto the club committee. He served as chairman of the match committee during the 70s and 80s where he was close to the team.
He had a good eye for a player and was always ready to support those who gave their all for the club. Gordon, or ‘Chopper’ as he was affectionately known, was a likeable, solid and frank character who was always looking to raise standards. He was respected by everyone at the club for his direct and helpful advice. He was generous too, and at this time of the year could be relied upon to provide a Christmas tree for his friends and on other occasions a hind of venison!
Even well into his nineties, Gordon kept his interest in rugby changes and the fortunes of Swansea RFC. In a recent group ceremony at the club during a ‘100 cap presentation’, no one showed more pride and enjoyment in receiving his award than ‘Chopper’ himself. Gordon was presented at St Helen’s, with his Swansea ‘100’ cap on 15th December 2018. He will be sadly missed as a great friend and colleague at the club.”
Former ‘All White’ and long-time administrator at St Helen’s Mike James was a contemporary committee member with Gordon Morris and added: “Gordon ‘Chopper’ Morris’ playing record is self-evident, to which we can add that he played in several Welsh trial matches. He spent the whole of his distinguished working life with the Forestry Commission, becoming Head Forester for this region. He was the most sincere and reliable friend and above all, a total gentleman.”
The thoughts of all at St Helen’s go out to Gordon’s family at this difficult time.