Full Name: JAMES WILLIAM MORRIS
Date of Birth: 24/02/1922
Height: 188 cm ( 6-2 )
Weight: 86 kg ( 13-8 )
Debut: 27/06/1942, Round 8, Fitzroy
Last Game: 01/09/1951, Round 18, Melbourne
Seasons: 1942, 1944-51
Total Games: 140
Total Goals: 98
Honours: Captain 1950-51, Club Best & Fairest 1945, 1948, 1950, " Brownlow Medal " 1948, Victorian Representative Team Games 15 Goals 14, Victorian Representative Team Captain 1950.
Total Games: 1
Total Goals: 0
William “Bill” Morris was a ruckman. He was affectionately known as “Paleface” due to his pallid complexion. He originally started his career with Old Scotch in the Amateur competition; however, he was lured to Richmond after an astute piece of recruiting by Richmond Secretary Maurie Fleming. At the time Bill had played one game with the Melbourne Reserves in 1941; however, the Demons had shown little interest in him. Fleming had seen him play in the Services’ Football Competition and was impressed with what he saw. After a little negotiating, he finished up a Richmond player. Melbourne in return received a player named Colin Galbraith who went on to play four senior games before a knee injury forced him to retire. Bill went on to become a champion.
He was a very fair player who was well respected even by the Richmond tough men in Dyer and Fraser. His fair play occasionally irked his tougher teammates, especially when he would assist an opponent who had been the victim of a Dyer shirt front. He was a great palmer of the ball, with either hand, to his rovers. As a result, he was able to change hands in order to confuse his opponents. He also possessed a great leap and had the ability to spear himself towards the ball at boundary throw-ins. Tactically, he was a very clever player who often changed the way he approached rucking contests in order to further confuse opponents. He displayed a relaxed approach to the game; however, he possessed great stamina and found no problems in rucking all day. A skilled all-rounder, he was a strong mark, long kick with either foot and possessed fine evasive skills.
He won the club Best and Fairest award in 1945, 1948 and 1950. He also ran second in 1947 and third in 1946. He captained Richmond in 1950 and 1951, and was awarded Life Membership in 1951. He won the “Brownlow Medal” in 1948; ran equal second in 1946 and equal third in 1950; and represented Victoria 15 times, captaining the state in 1950. He was a member of the 1942 and 1944 Grand Final teams, unfortunately missing the 1943 Premiership win due to military service. His highest individual goal tally with Richmond was 4, which he kicked on seven occasions.
He left Richmond at the end of 1951 and crossed to Box Hill where he stayed for three seasons as a playing-coach. During his three seasons with Box Hill, he won three Best and Fairests and finished third in the 1952 “Liston Trophy” count for Best and Fairest in the VFA. At Box Hill, he tended to spend more time on the forward line. He won their Goalkicking award in 1954 with a total of 57 goals. He also kicked 10 goals in one game for Box Hill.
He was also a talented leg-spin bowler who played Senior XI cricket with Melbourne in 1939/40. He scored 120 runs with a highest score of 37 and he took 13 wickets with his best return being 5 for 69 in the District Final against Fitzroy. He served in the R.A.A.F during World War 2 which included postings in Sydney and Benalla. Whilst in Sydney, he represented the South Sydney club, in 1943, where he played at full-forward and finished up kicking 102 goals for the year. The football world was stunned to hear of Bill’s untimely death, by his own hand, at the age of 38 in May 1960.
Old Scotch 1939-40 ; Melbourne Reserves 1942, Games 1, Goals 0.
South Sydney 1943 ( Honours - Leading Goalkicker 1943 Goals 102 ) ; Benalla RAAF Team 1944 ; Box hill Captain/Coach 1952-54, Games 58, Goals 92 ( Honours - Best & Fairest 1952-54, Leading Goalkicker 1954 Goals 57 ).