Basher’s tribute to John Morris


Asked to post a few words about my friend Copper I hesitate to do so whilst emotions are still raw. So what I do say is tinged with more than usual poignancy. Deep respect to Anne and the family -Richard, Paul, Sue and spouses and to Callum, Caitlin, Will and Thomas. Our thoughts today are very much with the family. Whatever is said about JFM, and believe me a lot will be said, first and foremost he was an immensely proud family man. Family came first for Copper Morris.
If you consider Lydney to be in the Forest, which to a Severnsider or a Forester may be controversial, JF Morris was the best sportsman in terms of all-round ability to ever come out of the Forest. Certainly, to come out of Lydney.
To me JFM ’s the epitome of a sporting icon whose life we who knew him must celebrate. So Lydney and the Forest has lost its best sportsman, a sad day for the whole sporting community. I will not be talking here about Copper’s rugby that is for others better qualified (but I do remember aficionados and leading rugby pressmen like John Reason saying he should play scrum-half for England, a call which never came. In my experience I saw far worse number nines wear the red rose shirt). I will focus instead on his five decades’ play for Lydney CC perhaps a longer span than anyone since William Jones the father of Lydney cricket.
Always, JFM was fit as a flea, vital, full of humour – kind of immortal. Younger than his years, larger than life. I cannot help thinking there were six of us on the Wilkins cover photograph of The Rich Wine Untold history of the club. Three are now gone before: James PJ, Tomkins TH, Morris JF. I was indeed privileged to play in such company. There is plenty of JFM in Rich Wine Untold (commercial plug – copies are still available) because Cop was no shrinking violet and always in the thick of it. We must celebrate the life of this gifted ballplayer who was blessed with good hands, good feet and a good mind. Only his calling was suspect like mine, not always allowing for the fact that the guy the other end was not as quick or quick-witted as he was.
The local grapevine has been humming. In addition to Paul and Chunk, contact has been made inside and outside the club for we are talking about an exceptional character here with long reach who invariably kept his tongue in his cheek. Indelible, a force of nature, honest as the day, outspoken and full of conviction, a very shrewd judge who never stopped loving and living sport. Lacing it all with wit and good humour. A very positive character, usually ahead of the game and always a team player. In other words, he was wonderful company, he stayed and kept you grounded but often had the last word on any topic! Especially strong on social justice, philosophically sound – a conversation with Copper was never one-dimensional.
Many individual matches spring to mind because I played with him at his best which to my mind was the 1970s. Some of the best stories in the club annals centre on Copper. One of the best returns in club history came against a County Club and Ground side captained by George Emmett in 1961, Copper taking his career-best 8 for 13. But Copper’s take on it amused me with Perc Clarke our unapologetic home umpire accounting for some of his wickets! Particularly sweet the memory of a rare 1974 win thanks to a Morris five-wicket haul against Hereford at the Racecourse after we’d been bowled out cheaply by KJEdwards. Then fast forward to Tetbury 1976…”Oh yeah! The Tetbury two-piecer!” cries Copper …remembering us inserting the opposition on the hottest day in a hot summer after their skipper threw me the match ball…not a quartered leather one but a real two-piece conker…in very little time Copper bowling them out. The top came off the wicket early in the heat, the hard ball exploding like a hand grenade from Copper’s end…their old umpire incredulous, “I was in the trenches in WWI and never saw ‘owt like that!” We won that match before tea thanks to a Jeremy Williams-led run chase. Another match against touring Middleton-on-Sea in1978 saw only five players turn up which included two boys and the scorer Geoff James for the start of the match. Copper captain for the day showed his leadership skills when they were really needed in an epic match (in which we did not muster a full team till Millsy and Hendy came off continental shift) which see-sawed in dramatic fashion. A rare occasion indeed, JFM did not bowl. Sarge guested and took eight wickets and appreciative Middleton wrote a letter saying how much they had enjoyed the game. Copper was the real hero in winning the toss, getting eleven on the field, eventually, staying at the crease when we literally had no-one else to bat and keeping Henderson and Sergeant on to bowl. With us triumphant by five runs rather than a more likely disaster against a team which had thrashed Cheltenham the day before by ten wickets. Against Tewkesbury on the Swilgate a very tolerant JFM “thanking” me – for taking him off after he had bowled five consecutive maidens and taken all the wickets to that point, to put myself on to win the match. And so I could go on, there are so many stories.
JFM was in “our best side” 1973, still playing in the 1990s and involved in the 1980s a golden era when the club flourished. We always gave good hospitality at Lydney, part of the club heritage. Copper was in his element with our Aussie visitors year on year and they had a ball. In 1984 Oz Mike Jones took Copper’s catching record for the season with 28 catches, rubbing it in by calling him “Warhorse”, one of the great nicknames. When Zaheer Abbas and Sadiq Mohammed guested in 1971 versus Charlie Griffiths’ Barbados League who else but Copper introduced them to betting on the horses. My favourite story best told by Hendy concerns him giving Copper the stake money to place on a bet, a hot tip no doubt. After the match at Frocester, or was it Stinchcombe, Copper had just bought a jug to celebrate his own five wickets and Hendy reminded him about the bet…” Oh sorry. I forgot to place the bet…how d’ you think I can afford a jug!?”
The anecdotes demonstrate JFM’s versatility with bat and ball. And his wit. Equally adept at leading you astray or getting you out of trouble, he would have got into the best sides in our circuit for his all-round skill. For me, it was his bowling I valued most. On the right wicket, he was devastating. Week in week out on good wickets having his accurate, utterly dependable bowling to call upon, especially in the lean years when our attack was anything but balanced, was invaluable. He shored up one end to give us a better chance. Copper the “senior professional” was there in the early 1970s to help the inexperienced club captain. With players like Blake, James and Morris around you learned quickly.
Today the Morris family tradition is well established and we hope John’s proud legacy will endure. In a short notice, it is not easy trying to do justice to his story. As you can tell I would not want JFM to get away without shouldering some of the blame for the way we all turned out! I think I speak for everyone in the club that JFM will be sadly missed. That he will also be remembered with much affection, respect and a great deal of humour I have no doubt. JFM so long. You set the very best standards in your family and sporting life – one of our own immortals. Thank you. Personally, I shall forever miss that ever-present member of the bench committee at the rugby club end…


John “Copper” Morris

It is with great sadness that the club has learnt of the passing of John “copper ” Morris. John was for many years a stalwart of the 1st X1 bowling attack and in later years became an animated observer from the benches beyond the boundary.

A tribute from our president Basher will appear shortly. Our thoughts are with Johns family at this difficult time.

RIP Copper.

Weekend Round Up 11/05/19

The first team travelled to Apperley looking to back up their impressive start against AIW. As expected Apperley proved tougher opponents and after being inserted they amassed an impressive 295-9 off their 45 overs. Callum Miller 9/1/37/2 and Jordan Stone 8/0/44/4 were the pick of the bowlers. My sources tell me that we bowled too short and too wide on a good wicket. In reply Jon Kear(49) and MJ (21)got off to a good start adding 71 for the first wicket. Tom Legge and Jack Knox both scored 34 and Henry Sleeman 11 but the rest of the batsman failed to register double figures whilst collapsing from 111-4 to 183 all out gaining 8 points in the process. The 2nd X1 who were missing a few regulars entertained a strong Newent team. Two wickets from the returning Charlie Brett and one from Riley Srivens were the only reward after a long hard afternoon in the field. Newent ending on 242-3 off their 45 overs. The lack of batting depth was cruelly exposed with only Joe Hale (33), Ben Nelmes(17) and Josh Slee (13*) reaching double figures as they were bowled out for 116. They gained 2 points . The third team travelled to Ruardean Hill to take on their 2nd X1 with nine players due too the unavailabilities in the other teams but were the only team to manage a victory.Skipper Slee led from the front with 61 ably supported by Mason Cunliffe who scored an encouraging 17 as the nine men amassed 140 all out. In reply Ruardean Hill were bowled out for 96 with Chunk (3-5), Matt Williams (3-32) and Mason Cunliffe (2-19) amongst the wickets. Matt Williams was also involved in the other wickets to fall running out two batsman with good fielding to easily win the man of the match award.

Trevor Tompkins

The first reference to Trevor I have made previously in Rich Wine Untold . See especially the short essay on THT in chapter 5. My further thoughts revolve around some of his surviving contemporaries three of whom I talked to yesterday viz. Copper, Ray Nicholas and Bobo which jogged a few memories. I also recall PJJ on Trevor : “Tomkins is all wind and piss….but ‘im’s harmless”. Translating the Jamerspeak in other words he liked him but don’t believe a word he says. As usual James was taking the piss out of Tomkins as you do with only your best friends. How you deal with mates in a club environment, something which the Knoxes and Nelmeses should bear in mind. In fact, PJJ and THT were like peas in a pod – the legendary spin twins of Lydney.
Ray Nicholas, 85 years young, watching keenly the Redmarley match yesterday [Sat 18 May], remembered how Tomkins and he, still Colts in a team unbeaten for two seasons, got into Ron Aldridge’s 1st XI on ability in 1951/52. No mean feat. To my certain knowledge THT played 1st team cricket over the next 30 years playing into the early 1980s and often in midweek. One of the hallmarks of Trevor’s cricket: he made himself available. Along with the likes of Piner Wiltshire, he was one of the few cricketers who was always available. You could rely on Tomkins to be there. Any captain will tell you that is a great thing. For thirty-odd seasons THT was available for Lydney CC. A fine record.
After being relegated to the seconds, then the 3rd XI in his late forties, THT made himself useful and rededicated to cricket with Speech House CC where he did sterling service in organising and encouraging local talent.
How do you sum up Tomkins’ cricketing story in just a few words? There are few left to do THT justice. Copper Morris Sir., Bobo, Bonser, Blakey and Ray Nicholas played a lot of cricket with Trevor. So did I in the 1970s when he was perhaps past his best and without PJJ at the other end to complement his wily left arm skills, consistency of line and length – you could set a field to THT’s twirlers. With flight and guile, on his best days he could mesmerise and tease as good spinners do. And bowl good sides out though rarely without good support, usually PJJ, the other end.
What I know of his ‘back story’ is National Service cricket with the RAF, a strong influence. Then joining Lydney as part of a strong Colts team – Archie Smith, Pete James, Ray Nicholas and co. under Wilson Whereat’s beady eye. Whereat was an excellent all-rounder. I know too that Gloucestershire legend George Emmett coached THT and others in the Club. So in THT’s formative years he would have had example and guidance from both good club players and County professionals. Perhaps above all in importance in THT’s story is his keenness. He played and played and got better as you do if you are talented and want to learn. And like PJJ and others, Tomkins was smart enough to know what you had to do to become better. Just play and play, bowl and bowl, on better wickets against better cricketers and some of it rubs off.
The other aspect of it is of course enjoying the game on and off the field. Conviviality and comradeship are the keys to real enjoyment of the game. THT understood this, developing his own approach and style. Always with good humour. The Tomkins’ half pint tour is part of the Lydney folklore. “On yer bike Basher!” was time to move on usually to the next watering hole. The social aspect was always important to Trevor, hence his regular attendance in his dotage on the Lydney balcony with the old gits like me.
I was fortunate to have played with Trevor and some of his contemporaries. What you learn is, in essence, what cricket should be – serious, very serious, fun and not at all important. To get the best out of it though perhaps like Tomkins you need to be deadly serious in your intent and attitude. THT never underestimated himself I reckon, especially with Jamer there to back him up.
The other important aspect of THT’s cricket, he was always well turned out. A smart cricketer he always looked the part. “ It’s half the battle my boy!” I am personally indebted to Tomkins, and Bonser, for providing transport to my early, pre-Triumph Herald, cricket matches for Lydney home and away. I am extremely grateful, indeed feel blessed, to have played in the company of Trevor and his ilk. R.I.P. Trevor Tomkins, one of the Club greats who did it with humour and style.

Basher, Sunday 19 May 2019


Stone 1st X1 v Lydney 2nd X1 04/05/2019

With regular captain Dave Kear out injured Ben Nelmes assumed the captaincy for the 2nd X1 visit to Stone to open the 2019 season. He won the toss and invited Stone to bat first. The opposition were then reduced to 20-3 with Ellis Boughton taking two wickets and Ben Nelmes one. Then came what turned out to be the match winning partnership between Lennard and Lavis who put on 161 for the fourth wicket. Following the dismissal of Lavis for 84 the Stone batting fell away to end the innings on 186 all out. Chief protagonists in their demise were the evergreen Andy Kear (3-20) and Charlie Bendall (3-48). In reply Lydney lost Charlie Bendall (1), Joe Hale (3), and Jack Batcock (4) early before Riley Scrivens and Alex Nelmes began the fight back. After Scrivens was out for 10 Ben Nelmes joined Alex Nelmes and put on 50 for the fifth wicket before Alex Nelmes was bowled for 31. Mars Slee (14), Andy Kear (10), Josh Slee (9) all got starts but were unable to offer enough support to Ben Nelmes who top scored with 32. Josh Haddock was last out for 0 to leave Lydney 50 short of the target on 136 all out. A decent effort by the lads but they will reflect on the 47 wides bowled as the probable deciding factor.

Fantasy Cricket returns!

Lydney Cricket Club’s fantasy league is back and better than ever.

We have decided to move away from the paper-based admin and have taken the competition online. Thanks to Phil Lewis for all the hard-work he has put in over the last few years to run and manage the league.

Going online will not only take the strain off Phil but also the entrants. Teams can be selected and managed through the website without having to worry about contacting anyone in person to make changes.

It still only costs £5 to enter and all payments are made via the website. To enter and for more information such as rules and standings go to https://lydney.fantasyclubcricket.co.uk.

You have until midday on Saturday 4th May to get your teams in. Good luck!

T20 Blast starts this season!

The inaugural Gloucestershire County Cricket League T20 Blast season begins this summer with Lydney entering a team in the West section of the tournament.

The event will be split into three divisions: West, East and South. All games are to be played on Sundays at 14:30. Each team will play each other once with the winners of each of the three leagues and the best runner up going to a finals day on Sunday 25th August at Hatherley & Reddings.

In Lydney’s league are: Birdlip & Brimpsfield, Corse & Staunton, Gloucester, Kingsholm, Newent and Redmarley.

Our fixtures can be found here.

Pre-Season Nets

Nets will start on Sunday 24th February at Monmouth School Sports Complex at 10:00am until 12:00pm. Each session will cost £3 per player, to be given before you leave the session.

All players are encouraged to come along, existing and new. If you require lifts, please get in touch with other Lydney-based players or use the Facebook page to try and sort something out.