Historian Terry Ainsworth looks back on the late John Morrell, a former journalist at the Visitor whose match reports were described as “legendary.”
A typical John Morrell match report is below, from Morecambe versus Weymouth on January 8, 1962 in the third round of the FA Cup at Christie Park.
“Final Cup Tie Reflections” by the indefatigable John Morrell.
“Unable to produce their polished style of football, Morecambe finished way down in the mouth against Weymouth but make no mistake about it, on the day, the best side won.
“Weymouth did to Morecambe what Morecambe did to Chester in the second round – got to the ball first and moved it quickly.
“Along with over 9,000 other people, my heart was in my mouth during those last agonising ten minutes when things could so easily have gone the other way had it not been for the brilliance of that spry Bly in the Weymouth goal and a more than customary share of bad cup luck for Morecambe.
“I swallowed my supposed neutrality when Morecambe’s “goal” was hacked in and men dropped like felled trees four minutes from time, I stood on my feet and cheered.
“Looking back wasn’t it tragic that Roy Fawcett missed three open goals, that Ian Whitehead was so terribly out of touch, that Gordon Howarth might just as well have stayed at home, and that Morecambe were knocked out of the FA Cup.
“But wasn’t it wonderful that they even reached the third round and that they kept the flag fluttering valiantly without two of their regular men. How we yearned for Joe Dunn’s drawing board tactics and that rugged Scot’s voice ringing out to steady his men.
“Nevertheless, Ron Mitchell, to my mind anyway, was a great stand-in for Don Cubbage and Bill Pockett, although he got terribly tired towards the end, gave everything he could. Both were determined not to let the side down and they did not.
“Mitchell will always be remembered as the man who caught the runaway dog with a great dive after it had held up play and evaded man after man.
“Ken Udall was his usual skilled self and Richardson played well especially in the first half but made a fatal mistake in the second.
“Paul Scott probably had one of the toughest games he will ever have against the effervescent Fogg at centre forward, while Jackie Keen ploughed tirelessly on.
“Fawcett had a curious game. He seemed to be the scourge of the Weymouth defence especially in the first half but he missed the goals that would have mattered.
“Evans spared no effort to get the attack working smoothly but he was largely unsuccessful because of lack of support. Borrowdale was another worker but he had a hard job against Hobson.
“One consolation about the whole thing was the wonderful sight of Christie Park packed with people. (attendance was 9,500).
“Morecambe: Udall; Mitchell, Richardson; Pockett, Scott, Keen; Fawcett, Evans, Borrowdale, Whitehead, Howarth.”
Rod Taylor, a Morecambe FC director, always thought John’s reports were legendary and as you can see from the photograph of Morecambe Juniors, John was a “Shrimp” at heart.