17th December. On this day in 1919 Henry Miller Morris was born. Henry Morris has one of those unique Scotland careers, that is somewhat obscure but well worth remembering. I know sometimes if I mention any game before 1960 a lot of people just switch off and it gets one like and most likely from my wife and sadly sometimes if she’s missed it out, I log in for her and like it for her.
Anyway Henry Morris was a centre forward for the mighty East Fife in the forties and into the fifties. This was a golden age for East Fife as they spent ten seasons in the top flight and recorded three League Cup Victories and were Scottish Cup runners up too. Henry had scored sixty goals in their League winning season of 1947-48 and was given the chance to show what he could do for Scotland on October 1st, 1948 in Scotland’s first ever World Cup Qualifier against Ireland which doubled up as a Home International match at Windsor Park, Belfast.
It took Henry two minutes to make his mark and score Scotland’s first ever World Cup goal. This was quickly followed by another four by half time including a Willie Waddell of Rangers double and one each from Billy Steel of Derby County and Hibs legend Lawrie Reilly. Although the Irish hit back with a double quite quickly in the second half, Henry scored a second with 70 minutes on the clock. Ten minutes later and Jimmy Mason, the last Third Lanark player ever to be capped added another to make it seven. Morris rounded off the scoring in the 89th minute to his hat-trick and the game finished 8-2.
Henry is only one of 29 players ever to score a hat-trick for Scotland but remarkably his feat at Windsor Park was also achieved by Hughie Gallacher, Alex Scott and Denis Law. Sadly for Henry this would be his one and only appearance for Scotland and as for Scotland’s World Cup hopes; we did qualify but the SFA in a fit of hubris had declared they would only go as British Champions, sadly a one nil defeat to England at Hampden in April 1950 meant we would stay at home.
Henry is not the only East Fife player to shine for Scotland.
Late April 1950, shortly after the England defeat Allan Brown of East Fife was given a place against Switzerland in a friendly at Hampden in front of a staggering crowd of 123,751. The Scots won 3-1 with all the goals coming in the first half; Willie Bauld opened the scoring before the Swiss equalised. Bobby Campbell of Chelsea then put the Scots 2-1 up before Allan Brown scored the third.
A month later and a friendly in Portugal and Allan nets alongside Bauld once more in two all draw in Lisbon. This was followed by a single goal victory against France in the Stade Olympique du Colombes, Paris with Allan being the only scorer that day.
Allan would then move to Blackpool but would play a total of 14 games for Scotland scoring 6 goals. He also played in Scotland’s two games at the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland.
However, before that in 1953, coincidentally in another World Cup Qualifier at Windsor Charlie Fleming of the Fifers was given his debut game. Once more Scotland won, this time 3-1 with two goals from Fleming and a third by Jackie Henderson of Portsmouth. Once more, Fleming like Morris was never picked again. Although Scotland didn’t win the Home International tournament that season they did go to the World Cup in 1954.
As to East Fife as their golden age ended so did their dalliance with the national team. Overall 6 East Fife players have represented Scotland in 16 matches achieving 9 goals which many a striker would be proud of today.
As to why Morris and Fleming never played again after shining in their one and only Scotland appearances only that can be answered by the SFA Selection committee of the time and vagaries of that lot are best left consigned to history as we will never truly know as it’s hard to fathom sometimes the SFA mind-set in the 21st Century never mind back then.
(The photo shows Henry Morris flanked by Scotland Captain George Young of Rangers and Billy Steel of Derby County.)