Johnny Morris

Leicester City In 100 Players: Johnny Morris

Club Historian John Hutchinson's series continues with Johnny Morris, an ex-England international who was a star midfield player for Leicester City in the 1950s.
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Morris was a big name player. He had helped Manchester United gain the First Division runners-up spots in 1947 and 1948 and win the FA Cup in 1948.

In March 1949, Morris signed for Derby County for a British record fee of £24,500. Playing alongside former Leicester City striker Jack Lee, he won three England caps during his three-and-a-half year spell at the Baseball Ground.

In October 1952, a Club record fee of £21,500 brought Morris to Second Division side Leicester City.

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

With the Foxes struggling in the top flight, Morris was involved in an ‘altercation’ with the manager Norman Bullock 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.

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Bobby Charlton, Johnny Morris & Alan Birchenall
Bobby Charlton, Johnny Morris & Alan Birchenall

Johnny Morris was guest of honour on Filbert Way for his 80th birthday as Bobby Charlton and Alan 'The Birch' Birchenall helped him celebrate.

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 side which stormed to the second tier title in 1957.

Howard 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, while preparing for life back in the top flight, Morris’ temperament resulted in him being sent off in a pre-season practice game against his team-mates! 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 team-mate Jack Froggatt at Kettering Town in July 1961.

The last glimpse the Leicester fans had of Morris, who died in 2011, was on 27 September, 2003 when he was guest of honour on his 80th birthday at a Leicester City home match. Totally appropriately, Leicester City’s opponents that day, as is the case today, were Manchester United.

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