Jack Morris (centre-half) 1905-06
Born: Leeds, 18 October 1887
John 'Jack' Morris was a locally born centre-half who showed great potential as a schoolboy and represented Leeds Schools.
Morris had high hopes of a glittering future in the professional game after Leeds City were elected to the Football League in May 1905. He was one of the few local players who made it into the club's first team pool and he was delighted to sign up when secretary- manager Gilbert Gillies offered him a contract in October 1905.
Morris made his first tesam debut on New Year's Day, 1906, in a Second Division fixture at Blackpool. He did well enough in the 3-0 victory and figured in each of the eight games that followed in the absence of regular pivot Harry Stringfellow, though he pulled up no trees.
The comment in the Leeds Mercury after the 17 February defeat of Port Vale was pretty typical: "At half-back, J Morris, in his quiet, unassuming style, got through a great deal of work".
Just when he seemed to have established his place in the City side, Morris' season was ended on 24 February at Barnsley. The Mercury: "Early in the match, Morris received injuries both to the knee and ankle, and for twenty minutes before the interval he was off the field. Subsequently he returned, but he was to all intents and purposes a passenger, for he could not assist in checking the movement of the dashing Barnsley forwards."
City retained Morris for the following campaign and he played in the opening game against Bradford City at right-half. Flaneur reported for the Leeds Mercury on a less than satisfactory display by the half-back trio of Morris, John George and Jimmy Kennedy: "The half-back line was the worst department. Morris and George changed places in the second half, but neither this couple nor Kennedy showed such form as characterised the opposition. There was an entire lack of combination between them and their forwards."
The luckless Morris was not helped when he sustained another injury in the game and gave way to George in the next match; thereafter Fred Hargraves assumed the right-half role on an ongoing basis. Morris never regained a first team place and faded out of the professional game thereafter.
After the advent of World War I, Morris enlisted for the Army and he saw action in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) during a four-year conflict between the Allied Forces and the Turks, who were aligned with the Germans. The conflict ended in November 1918, 15 days after the Armistice and one day after the occupation of Istanbul.
On 23 October 1914 British Indian Army troops, who were already in Bahrain to protect the oil refineries, invaded southern Mesopotamia and advanced up the Tigris Valley. They soon captured the important city of Basra. Turkish attacks were repulsed, and late in 1915 the British advanced again through Kut-el-Amara and on north towards the Mesopotamian capital of Baghdad. By the end of the year, Major-General Charles Townshend, who had taken over command of operations, found himself besieged in Kut.
In April 1916 Townshend surrendered the town, along with 6,000 Indians and 2,070 British soldiers. A force of Indians under General Fenton Aylmer had tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to relieve Kut, and had suffered over 21,000 casualties. Nonetheless, by December 1916 the British renewed their advance up the Tigris with 166,000 men - over 100,000 of them Indians. On 11 March 1917 they entered Baghdad.
1917-18 saw a continued Allied advance northwards through the rest of Mesopotamia, and on to the Caspian Sea and to the Mosul oilfields. These were taken over on 14 November 1918, just before the end of the war, at which time there were reckoned to be 260,000 Indian soldiers in Mesopotamia – three times as many as the British contingent.
It had taken the Allies four years and cost 80,000 casualties to drive the Turks out of the Mesopotamian oilfields. Altogether, some 675,000 Indian fighting troops saw service in Mesopotamia, as well as hundreds of thousands of auxiliary troops. Without the work of the Indian auxiliaries on the Mesopotamian railways – which supplied almost every requisite for fighting and for everyday living on campaign – the Allied forces would never have enjoyed the victory they achieved.
With great thanks to Graham Cole, great nephew of Jack Morris, for the photographs and some of the background information.