Johnny Morris

The Transfer Record: Johnny Morris

In October 1952, Second Division side Leicester City paid a Club record fee of £21,500 for the ex-Manchester United, Derby County and England inside-forward, Johnny Morris.
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Future Leicester star Howard Riley was 14-years-old in the Filbert Street crowd on the day that Morris signed and he clearly recalls the huge cheer that went up when the announcement was made.

Morris was a big name player. He had helped Manchester United gain the First Division runners-up spot in 1947 and 1948 and win the FA Cup in 1948.

In March 1949, following an acrimonious dispute with Manchester United in which he challenged the retain-and-transfer system, Morris signed for Derby County for a British record fee of £24,500.

Playing alongside former Leicester striker Jack Lee, he won three England caps during his three-and-a-half year spell at the Baseball Ground.

In October 1952, by a majority of 4-1, the Leicester City Board backed their manager Norman Bullock’s desire to sign Morris for £21,500 as part of his five-year plan to regain top flight status. 

This was a colossal fee for the Filbert Street club. A sum of £14,000 was paid immediately with the remainder being paid three months later.  

Aided by Morris’ accurate passing, courage, tackling ability, high work-rate and impressive finishing with either foot, Leicester won the Second Division title in 1954, but his fiery temperament created a crisis at the club in January 1955.

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Bobby Charlton, Johnny Morris & The Birch
Bobby Charlton, Johnny Morris & The Birch

Johnny was guest of honour for his 80th birthday at King Power Stadium.

With the club struggling in the top flight, Morris was involved in a ‘serious incident’ in the Rex Hotel at Whitley Bay following a match against Newcastle United.

Bullock, whose position was already under threat, resigned in protest at Morris only being suspended for 14 days.

Despite relegation at the end of the season, Morris’ fortunes improved under the Club’s new manager David Halliday.

Playing at right-half, he was a key member of the Leicester City side which stormed to the second tier title in 1957. Riley who by now was playing in the first team as a 17-year-old, remembers how Morris could send opponents the wrong way with a shimmy without touching the ball, and how his distribution was superb with his passes being timed and angled to perfection.

In 1957, whilst preparing for life back in the top flight, Morris’ fiery temperament resulted in him being sent off in a pre-season practice game against his teammates!

A fortnight’s suspension followed. He was a regular for the rest of the season but he missed the vital last match of the season when a 1-0 victory at St Andrew's saved the Club from relegation.

The following month, Morris became player manager of Corby Town, before joining his old Leicester City teammate Jack Froggatt at Kettering Town in July 1961.

The last glimpse the Leicester fans had of Morris, who passed away in 2011, was on 27 September, 2003 when he was guest of honour on his 80th birthday at a Leicester City’s home match.

Appropriately, Leicester City’s opponents that day were Manchester United, the team he had starred for in the post-war years.

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