Hall of Fame
In association with GMST, the Greenock Morton Hall of Fame was launched in 2014 to celebrate the contribution of individuals who have made a significant impact on the club over our proud history.
Each inductee is chosen by the fans and is inducted at a celebratory dinner attended by friends and family of the inductees, fans of the club and club officials.
By Jonathan Mitchell
The class of 2014 were the first group of club icons inducted into the newly established Greenock Morton Hall of Fame at the inaugural dinner held at Greenock Town Hall on Saturday 15 November.
In what was the 140th year since the club was founded in 1874, there were a whole host of candidates worthy of selection over many generations.
But there could be little disagreement with the choices of the 1922 Scottish Cup winning team, Jimmy Cowan, Billy Campbell, Tommy Orr, Allan McGraw, Andy Ritchie, Derek Collins, and Andy Bryan.
The crowning club achievement since our inception was lifting the Scottish Cup in season 1921-22 after beating Rangers 1-0 at Hampden in front of 75,000 fans.
Jimmy Gourlay scored the winning goal that day, and the team’s induction – the first of four automatic entries – was accepted by Gourlay’s grandson David Bolster and son-in-law Jimmy Bolster.
David added a nice personal touch by revealing the cunning way in which his grandfather asked the referee to move the Rangers defensive wall back before quickly whipping the free-kick over them.
Next up, the late, great Scotland goalkeeper Jimmy Cowan was inducted. Legend has it Cowan wore a Morton shirt under his national team jersey in many of his 25 caps.
His daughter Linda Irvine revealed this was indeed the case, adding: “Morton was always in his heart” and that he actually asked the Ton score after being carried off the Wembley turf a hero in 1949.
Cowan was also inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2007, but Mrs Irvine explained the Morton induction would have been much more important to him.
The final two automatic places went to post-war greats and Scottish internationalists Billy Campbell and Tommy Orr, who were, quite fittingly, team-mates between 1946 and 1949.
Another great era in Morton’s history was represented in the first of the candidates voted into the Hall of Fame via public ballot held through the Greenock Telegraph.
Allan McGraw is Morton’s all-time top goal scorer and an integral member of the fondly remembered and record setting 1963-64 team, a season in which he scored 58 times.
He earned the nickname ‘Mr Morton’ through his many years of service as a player, coach, manager, and even a short stint as director of football.
Mr McGraw was the first inductee to be able to accept his place personally and he was typically self-effacing as he took centre-stage.
He also offered the secret to his managerial success, stating that a boss doesn’t have to be a great tactician but rather a great man manager.
The only minor disappointment of the evening was that the sixth inductee, the supremely talented Andy Ritchie, was unable to be there in person.
The King of Cappielow Park won the Scottish Football Writers’ Player of the Year in 1979 and was also voted the club’s all-time cult hero by viewers of the BBC’s Football Focus.
In his absence, his award was accepted by a fellow nominee and former Cappielow team-mate in full-back Davie ‘Hannibal’ Hayes.
The final playing inductee went to a modern-day legend in defender Derek Collins, who amassed 619 appearances over two spells.
A clearly moved Collins made a passionate acceptance speech, which he ended by wishing good luck to the current management team and their squad.
As far as most people in attendance knew that would be the end of festivities, but there was one final surprise in store for kitman Andy Bryan.
After 40 years’ service as a ball boy and kitman, the man described by host Des McKeown as Morton’s ‘beating heart’ was made a special inductee into the Hall of Fame.
Video messages from Ally McCoist, Craig Brown, and Derek McInnes were played on the big screen at the back of the hall as a flabbergasted Bryan looked on shaking his head in disbelief.
Chairman Douglas Rae also took the mic to explain that Andy has always stuck to the motto that ‘Nothing but the best is good enough for Morton F.C.’
It was also revealed that a testimonial match, against Celtic, would be held in his honour, something that he admitted left him “speechless”.
The night came full circle as organisers the Greenock Morton Supporters’ Trust revealed £12,000 had been raised for the club’s youth academy.
In coming together to celebrate the stars of the past, those in attendance had gone a long way towards helping creating the stars of the future.
Billy Campbell is Morton’s most capped player after Jimmy Cowan with five full appearances for Scotland during his 1941-1949 spell with the club, which saw the right-Half feature 135 times in official competitions.
Signing from Morton Juniors in 1941, Campbell’s career was limited to appearances in the Scottish Southern League – a tournament which sprung up as a result of the suspension of the regular leagues due to the World War II – until 1946.
Morton recorded a best finish of second place in 1942-43. The previous season, the club were runners-up in the Southern League Cup, with Campbell scoring the decisive goal in a semi-final replay against Partick Thistle.
It was after the Scottish Football League reconvened in 1946-47 that Campbell really began to shine, winning the first of his five caps in Scotland’s 3-1 victory over Switzerland in May 1946.
A crowd of 111,899 witnessed that match, but even that figure was dwarfed by the 265,000 fans who turned up to watch Campbell and his Morton team-mates in the Scottish Cup final and subsequent replay against Rangers in April 1948.
Sadly, Campbell’s career was, in retrospect, in its final stages by this point and he never had the chance to add to the fifth and final Scotland cap he earned two months later as his career was cut short by ill-health.
Campbell retired from football in January 1949 at the young age of 28, signing off with a rare goal in his final appearance against Dundee.
Years at Morton
1941 – 1949
Tommy Orr was the last of our automatic inductions in 2015, joining team-mates Jimmy Cowan and Billy Campbell in the Hall of Fame.
The inside-forward signed for the club in 1941 and like Campbell, featured for Morton in war-time competitions in seasons 1941-42 and ’43-44, including the 1942 Southern League Cup Final defeat to Rangers. Orr was then called up for military duties in 1944, returning to Morton in 1947 where he would stay until his retirement in 1958.
Orr’s first season in the recently reconvened Scottish football calendar saw him renew his acquaintance with Billy Campbell, and along with Cowan they led Morton to the Scottish Cup Final in 1948 where they would lose to Rangers after a replay. The forward wasn’t to be denied a winner’s medal though, helping his side to the Division B title two seasons later.
Like team-mates Cowan and Campbell, Tommy Orr also gained international recognition for his performances at Morton, marking his debut in Northern Ireland in October 1951 with a goal; his only other cap came just over a month later in a defeat to Wales.
In the course of his career, Orr made 340 appearances for Morton, scoring 108 goals, but his contribution to the club was to extend beyond this: Orr’s son Neil would later make over 200 appearances for Morton, earning the club a £400,000 fee from West Ham United for his services.
Years at Morton
1946 – 1958
Jimmy Cowan needs no introduction to students of Scottish football, boasting as he does 25 Scotland caps and an enduring reputation as one of this country’s finest ever goalkeepers.
It was during a nine-year spell at Cappielow that Cowan garnered that reputation. Signed from St Mirren in 1944, military service prevented him from making his debut until 1947.
His first Ton appearane, which came away to Hibernian, was a memorable one as Cowan provided a glimpse of his capabilities by saving two penalties.
He won his first Scotland cap just over a year later in what proved to be something of a mixed month for him, with the high of that debut being preceded by a Scottish Cup Final replay defeat to Rangers at Hampden.
Cowan enjoyed one league winner’s medal in 1949/50 and suffered two relegations, but the keeper had his fair share of glory for his national team.
He won the British Home Championships in 1949 and 1951, and it was in a match against England at Wembley (Pictured) in the former success that saw Cowan cement his place as a Scottish football great.
Repeatedly defying the Auld Enemy’s star-studded frontline in such stunning fashion, the match became known as ‘Cowan’s Game’.
Morton were Cowan’s first love, though, and he always wore the club’s blue and white hooped jersey under his Scotland top.
As the club’s most-capped player, James Clews Cowan richly deserves his place in both our own and Scottish Football’s Hall Of Fame.
Years at Morton
1944 – 1953
Allan McGraw is arguably Greenock Morton’s greatest ever servant, having offered over 15 years of service as player and manager.
McGraw signed for the club in 1961 and scored on his debut against Queen of the South, setting the tone for the next five years he would spend at the club.
In each of those, he was Morton’s top scorer, most famously in 1963/64 when he set the club record for most goals in a season with a staggering tally of 61 strikes in just 52 appearances.
That year’s goals helped Morton to the Second Division title and also to the League Cup final, where they would lose out to Rangers;.
His sensational scoring exploits did not go unnoticed though, with Hibs paying Morton £15,000 for the striker’s signature in April 1966.
McGraw’s exceptional service to Morton wasn’t done there. Allan was appointed manager in 1985, and it wasn’t long before he delivered further success, winning the First Division title in 1986/87 along with the Manager of the Year award.
In the mid-1990s he assembled arguably the greatest Morton side of recent times with the likes of Janne Lindberg, Derek McInnes, Alan Mahood, Derek Lilley, Derek Collins, and Marko Rajamaki gracing the Cappielow turf.
This side won the Second Division title in 1994/95, but sadly lost out on promotion the following season by the narrowest of margins.
With such an imperious record at the club, both as a player on the pitch and a manager in the dugout, ‘Mr Morton’ has more than earned the right to that grand nickname.
Years at Morton
1961 – 1966 (player), 1985 – 1997 (manager)
Andy Ritchie barely needs an introduction to any Greenock Morton supporter or, indeed, any Scottish football fan of a certain age.
Widely regarded as the club’s most talented player of all-time, Ritchie signed for Morton from Celtic in October 1976 and delighted Cappielow crowds for seven goal-laden seasons.
Ritchie’s first four campaigns in particular were sensational – he scored at least 20 in each of these seasons – and earned him nicknames including ‘the Idle Idol’ and ‘The King of Cappielow’.
In his first full season, 1977/78, Ritchie guided the club to the First Division title and carried his superb form into the next season when he scooped the Scottish Football Writer’s Player of the Year award.
Such was Ritchie’s form in those years that he was alleged to be set for a place in Ally McLeod’s squad for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina until the SFA decreed that it wouldn’t look good for a part-time footballer to be involved.
Sadly, Andy was only to gain a solitary Under-21 international cap and a Scottish League XI appearance as reward for his imperious talents and a reputation as Scotland’s finest player not to win a full cap.
Blessed with a sublime first-touch and ability to score from seemingly anywhere on the pitch, Ritchie is renowned for his stunning goals including a number straight from corner- kicks and free-kicks.
Ritchie became something of a nemesis for Scotland goalkeeper Alan Rough, with the Partick Thistle shot-stopper being a favourite target for some of his most spectacular efforts.
Rough wasn’t the only Scotland hero to be terrorised by Ritchie, though. The great Aberdeen team led by Sir Alex Ferguson was regularly on the receiving end of his magic too.
Most famously, Ritchie scored perhaps the club’s best ever goal by twisting the legendary defensive pairing of Willie Miller and Alex McLeish inside out before slotting past Jim Leighton in the Sinclair Street goal.
Ritchie finally left Morton for Motherwell for the sum of £35,000 in 1983 having established himself as perhaps Morton’s greatest and most popular player ever.
Years at Morton
1976 – 1983
Derek Collins has earned his nomination as the club’s record appearance holder, having played a total of 618 times for Morton over two spells.
Collins made his debut in 1987 against Motherwell and went on to give 11 years of sterling service as a stylish, attacking right-back.
A consistently reliable player, Derek featured in the 1992/93 Challenge Cup final and was an integral part of the great 1994/95 Second Division winning squad.
He also coming within a whisker of achieving promotion the following season when Morton lost out in a last day shoot-out with Dundee United in a hard fought 2-2 draw.
After a further two seasons at the club and a total of 482 appearances, including the memorable 1995/96 campaign in which we came within a whisker of a second successive, Derek moved to Hibs for £120,000.
He would return after the club exited administration in 2001 and, as a member of the 2002/03 Third Division title winning team, Collins became the first player to represent the Ton in all four tiers of Scottish football.
Derek was also rewarded with a much-deserved testimonial in 2002 with an old boys match against local rivals St. Mirren at Cappielow.
Collins departed for Gretna in January in 2005 after a further 136 appearances, returning for a spell as assistant manager to David Irons between February 2008 and September 2009.
Years at Morton
1987 – 1998, 2001 – 2005, 2008 – 2009 (manager)
Morton’s 1921/22 squad gave the club its finest moment to date by lifting the Scottish Cup, and who could argue those credentials for a place in the Morton Hall of Fame? The name of Jimmy Gourlay is fabled as the scorer of the decisive goal in the Final, but he wasn’t the only star in the squad – George French, for example, didn’t even play in the Final yet still hit a remarkable 9 goals in 6 appearances in the Scottish Cup that season, whilst team-mate Alex McNab won 2 Scotland caps during his time at the club.
Having disposed of the likes of Motherwell and Aberdeen en-route to the final, Morton went in to the tie against Rangers very much as the underdog. After just 11 minutes though, Jimmy Gourlay scored what proved to be the winner directly from a free-kick and Morton held on to lift the trophy to the surprise of many. Indeed, so low were expectations amongst the club itself that it is rumoured that at full-time, Morton had to borrow champagne from Queens Park to toast their victory as they hadn’t taken any of their own; the squad were packed straight off to Hartlepool for a friendly and didn’t get the chance to celebrate with their fans until the following Wednesday when over 10,000 people joined the festivities at Cappielow.
Sadly that famous victory turned out to be Morton’s first and last national title, which has only added to the legend of the men who achieved it and it is this glory that has earned them an automatic place in the club’s Hall of Fame.
Douglas Rae OBE
A lifelong supporter, Douglas Rae attended his first Morton match aged eight and held a season ticket each and every season thereafter until joining the board in 1988.
After over eight years as a director, he resigned from that role on 1 August 1997 prior to a regime change at Cappielow before returning to buy a controlling interest in the club and preserve its very existence.
Mr Rae stepped in to prevent administrators from plunging the club into liquidation in August 2001 and served as chairman for 17 years.
He saw the club participate in national cup finals and watched as footballing icons such as Sir Stanley Matthews and Tommy Lawton turned out as war-time guests.
However, more recent events ranked as personal highlights, including the final-day victory over Peterhead to clinch the 2002-03 Third Division championship and a shock League Cup success against Celtic at Parkhead in September 2013.
As owner of successful local confectionary firm Golden Casket, Mr Rae was the recipient of an OBE in the Queen’s 2016 birthday honours list.
He stepped down as club chairman in April 2018, following the final game of the 2017/18 season, due to ill health and took up the role of honorary club president, handing the reins to son Crawford.
Mr Rae sadly passed away on Saturday 23 June 2018 aged 87. Supporters paid a touching tribute to his Cappielow contribution by lining Sinclair Street and applauding as his funeral cortege passed the ground.