In its rich history, Bristol has nurtured some of the great stars of the past and present.
We would like to thank Dave Fox and Mark Hoskins for allowing us to take advantage of the superb research they did for their book "Bristol Football Club (RFU) - 100 Greats". Dave and Mark contributed the information and the images.
If you would like to get more information on the club, its players and its history, then you can buy their book at most leading bookshops in Bristol.
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Date of Birth 25/6/1950
Honours Gloucestershire, Public School Wanderers, Barbarians, England & Wales XV, England, British Lions
Career 1969-86 519 games
Scored 1516 pts (384t, 4c, 1dg)
Alan Morley was the most prolific try scorer the sport of rugby union has seen. The world record try scorer, he took great pride in his Bristol career and was the holder of several club records.
A pupil at Colston's School, Morley was "discovered" by David Rollitt, his maths and rugby teacher and Bristol number 8. Rollitt provided great encouragement and when Bristol held a mid-season trial match in 1968 Rollitt ensured Morley's name was put forward. He had a particularly successful game, scored a try and was invited to join Bristol.
Although still at school, he played for Bristol United against Abercarn at Christmas 1968 and made his first XV debut against Weston at the end of the season. He had no affiliation with a Combination club, but later played a handful of games for Old Colstonians.
Bristol had an embarrassment of riches on the wing, but Morley had talents that couldn't be ignored. Initially a centre, coach Peter Colston moved him closer to the touchline, explaining "you don't like passing"! Whether by accident or design it was a seminal moment. Bristol suddenly had the most extraordinary of try-scoring wings.
Morley possessed great anticipation, judgement and vision, although these qualities were only part of the story. Not the fastest runner in the side he could still swerve at top speed, had good hands and possessed the physique and power to hand off opponents. Crucially, he had the extraordinary footballing skills to make the most of even the merest of chances.
In the early part of his career he was watched by the Welsh selectors. Qualifying for Wales through his Welsh mother, Morley opted for England before Welsh advances went too far. He was selected for England's tour to South Africa in 1972, scored a couple of tries in provincial matches and was then chosen for the international in Johannesburg. He received a telegram from Rees Stephens, chairman of Welsh Selectors: "Heartiest congratulations. Good luck on Saturday from one Welshman to another".
Morley scored the only try in a remarkable 18-9 victory. He played against New Zealand, Wales and Ireland the following year, but was not selected again until recalled to play Scotland in 1975, when he scored England's only try. He toured Australia that summer and played in both internationals. The second test, the "battle of Brisbane", was Morley's last international. Coincidentally, it was the final England appearance of his mentor, Rollitt. Morley won a mere seven caps for England.
He scored a record 4 tries for England against Western Australia on the 1975 tour, and he represented England and Wales against Scotland and Ireland in 1975 as part of the IRFU Centenary celebrations. The previous year he replaced Clive Rees on the British Lions tour in South Africa, and but for injury on the penultimate Saturday might have played in the final test match.
He toured Italy with the Public School Wanderers in 1971 and was a member of their party which toured Zimbabwe in 1980, scoring 5 tries in one match against the hosts. He played for the Barbarians and represented Gloucestershire on 73 occasions, including several as captain.
There were many highlights in Morley's Bristol career. He scored 6 tries against Cheltenham in 1973 and crossed for 43 tries in the 1983/84 season, narrowly missing Mike Ellery's season's record of 44. Many of his most memorable Bristol tries were in the Cup, perhaps his most important being the match-winning score at the death against Plymouth Albion in 1974.
He played in the 1973, 1983 and 1984 cup finals, experiencing the joys of triumph and the despair of defeat. He was the only Bristol player to play in all these finals.
Morley was vice captain from 1978 to 1980, and again from 1982 to 1985. In between he captained Bristol, and although injured during the 1980/81 season, he top scored with 21 tries. He was also voted Player of the Year, an award he won twice.
His last game for Bristol was against Eastern Ontario in June 1986. He had found his last season tough and was concerned he might keep younger players out of the side so he decided to retire. By then he had played 519 games for Bristol and crossed for 384 tries. These are Bristol career records which are unlikely to be beaten. He did pull on the Bristol United jersey twice in the 1988/89 season to help out and, inevitably, scored two tries. The following season he turned out twice for the Bristol 'A' side, a third XV which functioned for a few seasons, and crossed for four more tries.
Morley was awarded the MBE for services to rugby in 1985 and was made an honorary vice president of the club when he retired. He later helped Bob Hesford coach Bristol and then became Clifton coach. He also coached Bristol's wings on a personal basis in the late 1990s.
He scored a world record 479 tries in first-class rugby. In both local and global terms, Alan Morley was truly a great player.