In memory of a beloved father and footballing legend
My dear Dad, Ralph Morris, died in September 2019, aged 91.
He was a gifted footballer in his younger years. During his National Service in Malaya in the late 1940s, he represented RAF Butterworth, playing with distinction all over the peninsula, garnering press reports and silverware when perhaps he should occasionally have been looking at his radar screen.
Back in England, Dad played for renowned London amateur club Dulwich Hamlet. He starred at full-back for over 100 games until a knee injury in the 1953/54 season forced him to give up the game prematurely, just as he was being talked about as a potential England Amateur player.
In 2019, the care home where Dad spent the last few months of his long and otherwise happy life, asked if there was anything left on his ‘bucket list’ that they could help him to achieve. He said he would love to step out onto the hallowed Champion Hill turf in south-east London one last time.
Dulwich Hamlet FC pulled out all the stops to honour their old warrior, and Dad was scheduled to meet the teams in the dressing rooms, and lead them out through the tunnel. Sadly, Dad died just before this could happen, but on 2nd November 2019, the National League South league game between the mighty Hamlet and Bath City was dedicated to Dad’s memory, and a minute’s silence in his honour was observed by everyone before kick-off.
I wanted to give something back to the club, in recognition of providing Dad with such a moving tribute and for – so nearly – fulfilling his last wish.
I’m planning to walk the Portuguese Coastal Camino, all 262 km of it, from Porto in Portugal to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It will be my own personal pilgrimage, in quiet contemplation of a wonderful father, but I’m also using it to try and raise some funds for the club and community who played such an important part in Dad’s life.
I’ve set up a fundraising website, including a short film shot on location in south-east London, about Dad, the club and its local community. Any funds raised will be used for specific community projects, rather than for the football club, and will hopefully be a fitting legacy in Dad’s name.
We’re currently looking at a couple of exciting new initiatives, aimed at opposite ends of the age spectrum. One would allow Dulwich Hamlet players to coach young players in local schools, before a term-end competition. The other – aimed at more mature players – would be to set up a local walking football team and tournament..
We hope that both these new initiatives will continue for more than one year and become lasting legacies in the name of Ralph Morris.
I’m currently planning to start walking the Camino at the end of September, although this is naturally subject to travel advice and the evolving Covid health crisis.
If you would like to contribute anything to my attempt to secure a lasting legacy for Dad back in south-east London, I would be hugely grateful. Here is the fundraising website: