Obituary: Jim Morrow

2 June 1929    5 January 2023

Club historian Rob Mason pays tribute...

We were saddened to learn of the death of former Youth Development Officer Jim Morrow at the age of 93. Jim managed England Schoolboys from 1970 to 1982 and came to SAFC in 1985. In addition to his outstanding work with young players he became part of the coaching staff under Denis Smith and Malcolm Crosby, being part of the backroom staff when the FA Cup final was reached in 1992. 

As a young man Jim became a teacher, starting at Washington in 1948 and played football in the Northern League for Stanley United in addition to representing his birthplace of Pity Me at cricket. He also played football for Ballymena during his National Service with the Royal Ulster Rifles. 

Achieving his full FA Coaching Badge as far back as 1953, after progressing through local and county junior football Jim became assistant manager to future Liverpool coach Tom Saunders for the England Schools team. Jim’s career in education progressed as he became head of Gilesgate Moor Junior School in Durham.

One of many players to owe Jim a debt of gratitude is Martin Smith who came through the ranks at Sunderland while Jim was Youth Development Officer. “I’m really sorry to hear Jim has passed away” says Martin. “I hadn’t seen him for six or seven years and was just thinking about him recently. He was a big influence when I was coming through to the extent that my teammates thought I was his ‘blue-eyed boy’ as he always looked after me. There was one game at Bradford  when I was playing in the national trials after I’d already signed schoolboy forms for Sunderland. After a couple of minutes I hit a scissor kick from outside the box and it cannoned off the bar. Afterwards he was so happy because all the scouts were interested and he was saying to them, ‘He’s mine!’”

Peter Stronach and Wilf Rostron were future Sunderland players who played for England boys under Morrow, as did many players who went on to have great careers such as Ray Wilkins, Kenny Sansom and Clive Allen. Stronach says, “Jim was great and I’m so sorry to hear he has passed away. When we were playing at Wembley or at Arsenal Wilf and I would travel down with Jim along with John Trewick, a Newcastle lad who went on to play for West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle amongst others. He never showed us any favouritism as he was scrupulously fair and a pleasure to play for.” 

England Schoolboys won 62, drew 16 and lost 19 of Jim Morrow’s 97 games in charge. His contribution to football with England and Sunderland should not be underestimated. “He was a passionate supporter of 'The Red and Whites' right until the end of his life” says his daughter Julie. Rest in Peace Jim.

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