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Morris Stevenson

Footballer

Footballer

Born: April 16, 1943; Died: July 22, 2014.

MORRIS Stevenson, who has died aged 71, was a Scottish footballer whose play-making skills helped bring league success to a number of clubs through the 1960s and 1970s.

A natural inside-forward, he will be best remembered for the six years he spent with Morton, helping the Greenock side win promotion to the First Division and also reach a League Cup final at Hampden.

Born and brought up in Tranent, East Lothian, he began his football career with local juvenile club Cockenzie Star. Then, aged just 17, his sharp pace and ball-playing talents were spotted by Motherwell manager Bobby Ancell.

He made his professional debut at Fir Park at the start of the 1960-61 season. The diminutive inside-forward stayed there for two years, making 16 first team appearances and scoring seven goals, before being freed by Motherwell.

In 1962, he moved back East when Hibernian's new manager Walter Galbraith signed him up. The struggling Edinburgh club's first League game of the season - a 4-1 defeat by Rangers at Ibrox - saw the player score his first goal for the club.

A few months later he made his European debut in the home leg of an Inter-Cities Fairs Cup tie against the Danish side Copenhagen Staevnet, scoring one of the goals in the Easter Road side's 4-0 victory. Stevenson scored a total of four goals for Hibs in five Fairs Cup ties. He would go on to play again in Europe for Morton and Dundee United.

Though he maintained a regular place in Hibernian's first team, the harsh weather conditions of the winter of 1962-63 saw the fixture list decimated, with only a handful of games played in Scotland over a three-month period. Stevenson scored his last goal for the club on January 26, 1963, during a Scottish Cup tie at Brechin. The game, which Hibs won 2-0, was the only fixture the club played during the extreme winter period.

A few months later, he lost his first team place and, at the end of the season with Hibs only just avoiding relegation, the 20-year-old Stevenson found himself on the free transfer list for the second time in his short career.

As it turned out, it was a blessing in disguise for the tough wee playmaker. He was quickly signed up by Morton, at the time in the Second Division. That first season at Greenock saw the club win promotion but also achieve a shock double whammy by beating the two clubs that had seen fit to free Stevenson - Motherwell and Hibs - on the way to a League Cup final against Rangers. The Glasgow side won 5-0; Morton's efforts were not helped by the fact Stevenson was forced to play out of position at centre forward.

It was, however, not only a great season for Morton (they won the Second Division with 135 goals and only one defeat) but also the start of a golden era for the Cappielow side. In his six seasons with Morton, Stevenson shone, not as a great goalscorer but as a key playmaker in the side, producing an abundance of opportunities for a forward line led by the legendary Allan McGraw.

His period at Cappielow ended in 1968 when, after 215 appearances and 32 goals, he decided to try his skills in the English league with a transfer to Third Division Luton Town. It was not the best move for the Scot. Plagued by injury, he made just one first team appearance and, in February 1970, he returned to Scotland and a place with Dundee United.

He played for three seasons with the Tannadice side before moving to his final professional club, Berwick Rangers, where he remained until his retirement from the game in 1973.

Stevenson, who returned to live in his native Tranent and died at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after a long illness, is survived by wife Eileen, their children and grandchildren.

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