The Stars Roll Into Town

Last Friday Morton supporters of all ages came together to celebrate the 'Stars Of 79' - the Morton team of the 1979/80 season.

This great team - managed by Benny Rooney & Mike Jackson and featuring the club's best player of modern times (arguably of all time), Andy Ritchie - managed to go top of the Scottish Premier Division in November 1979 and were there as late as Christmas '79. The team eventually finished 6th which was still an amazing achievement considering this was essentially a group of part-time professionals competing against full-time giants such as Rangers, Celtic and Aberdeen.

The night - organised by the Greenock Morton Supporters' Trust - has been declared a great success. Fans have heaped praise on the organisers and told how amazing the night was; guest speaker Chick Young has written about the event for his blog on the BBC website and Benny Rooney has described it as "one of his best ever nights in football" according to the Greenock Telegraph's Russell Steele.

Unfortunately, I had to work last Friday so can't write up a report of the actual event. However, fellow fan Russell Gordon did attend and kindly offered to write about his experience of the night, here it is:

by Russell Gordon

In these troubled times to be a Morton fan, there's probably a few of us who look for any shred of hope and inspiration. We didn't have to look too far on Friday night as Port Glasgow Town Hall hosted a night in celebration of arguably the greatest Morton side since the First World War. I joined hundreds of supporters and guest speakers Chick Young and Jimmy Nicholl for a night of nostalgia to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the club topping the Scottish Premier Division (as it was called at the time).

At the time the Ton topped the table, I was a mere four months old, so my memory of the draw with St. Mirren that took us to the top is somewhat vague. However, I think it's fair to say I was in the minority. When you see kids in awe of Cristiano Ronaldo and Steven Gerrard, it pales in comparison to the sight of some of the grown men fawning over Andy Ritchie - and no wonder. I've seen a good bit of footage of Ritchie on my time, and yes, the winning goal against Aberdeen in the cup was a peach, but why has nobody ever told me just how good a goal he scored against Celtic at Cappielow?!?

But whilst Ritchie was the undoubted star of this Morton side, the night was arranged in order to applaud the collective effort of the side, lead by Benny Rooney and his able assistant Mike Jackson, both of whom joined Ritchie in answering the fans' questions as we reminisced. As host Chick Young pointed out the evening was turning into "Andy Ritchie, This Is Your Life", Ritchie was quick to point out that he was not the best player of his generation at Cappielow - an accolade he bestowed upon Jim Holmes. I think that was the point I looked across my table and saw my pal's dad with a tear in his eye (don't worry Rab, I'll not tell anyone)!

However, Holmes may well not even have been at Cappielow had it not been for one man in particular. We've heard plenty of stories from that era, and a few came to light that I was unaware of, possibly only due to my relative youth, but one in particular made me take notice. I was introduced to Morton die-hard Tommy Taylor, who gave up his life insurance policy in order that the club could sign Holmes from Partick Thistle. Whilst plenty of us can claim to be devoted to the cause, that particular gesture must be looked at as above and beyond the call of duty. I take my hat off to him!

Will someone keep me a seat for the fortieth anniversary do please?

Tontastic Pics

greenockmorton.org - thread about the night

BBC - Chick Young's View (10.11.2009)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the early eighties i had the great pleasure of being a ballboy at cappielow along with the curremt kit man Andy Bryan and Mark Mcgraw.I have many good memories of my time at cappielow.On a Teusday and Thursday night i filled my flask with bovril, catch the train and head off for training with the team.
The best time i can remember during training is when i was asked to go in goal during a bounce match with the team.I loved it, diving at Andy Ritchies feet (well trying to).Match days were special it was a pleasure going into work every saturday and to support such a wonderful talented team. I was only 13 at the time and was in awe of the talent.