Douglas Rae OBE, Billy Steel, Jimmy Gourlay, Hal Stewart, George Anderson, Jim Holmes, and the 1978/79 squad were all inducted into the Greenock Morton Hall of Fame in a special ceremony on Friday night.
The event, staged in Greenock Town Hall by the Greenock Morton Supporters’ Trust, was the second such event and saw six new club legends added to the original eight from the inaugural class of 2014.
Long-serving kitman Andy Bryan was a non-playing addition that night, and that same special merit honour was bestowed upon chairman Douglas Rae this time after ensuring the club’s survival at the turn of the millenium.
The unsuspecting club owner was treated to surprise congratulatory videos from ex-Ton star Derek McInnes, manager Jim Duffy, and kitman Bryan and current players Thomas O’Ware, Michael Tidser, and Derek Gaston.
See our official YouTube channel for a video of Mr Rae’s surprise induction and the above messages
He was followed into the hall of fame by the revered 1978/79 squad that stunned Scottish football by leading the Premier League with a part-time squad before eventually finishing a respectable sixth.
And the award, to which they pipped the 1963/64 and 1995/96 teams, was collected by popular full-back Davie ‘Hannibal’ Hayes.
The first of the pre-1960s nominees to be inducted was legendary 1940s ace Billy Steel. Although his time at Cappielow was disrupted by World War II, Steel scored 20 goals in his estimated 50 war-time appearances.
As well as netted a further three goals in 12 official top-flight appearances in 1946/47, he earned three full Scotland caps as a Ton player scoring three goals, before moving to Derby for a world record £15,500 in 1947.
From one Scottish Football and Morton Hall of Fame star to another, the former inside forward’s award was accepted on behalf of his family by Cappielow icon Allan McGraw.
To date, our club’s crowning glory is the 1921/22 Scottish Cup success, and the scorer of the winning goal in that final against Rangers at Hampden was the second pre-1960s inductee, accepted by his nephews.
Jimmy Gourlay played in the most successful era in Ton history – a period that saw the club achieve six consecutive top four finishes in the old First Division between 1913 and 1918, as well as winning the War Shield.
Gourlay’s contribution to that success was immense, scoring 122 goals in 403 appearences over a 13-year spell which ended in 1926 – a tally which remains the fourth highest in club history.
Jimmy’s association with the club continued for many years after hanging up his boots, with a stint as the club’s trainer between 1939 and 1959, making him one of our most distinguished servants.
Perhaps the most charismatic character in Morton’s history, Hal Stewart, was next to take his place after coming out on top in the managerial category, nominated by supporters’ clubs.
Although Stewart’s background was in sales, he found great success at Cappielow and proved to be a trailblazer by bringing Scandinavian players to Greenock, and his daughter Sylvia Armour proudly accepted his award.
Attentions then turned to modern greats in the club’s history with the post-1960s inductees, as selected by readers of the Greenock Telegraph through a public vote.
George Anderson was the first to be announced, and the clearly moved former defender made a passionate acceptance speech, mentioning how it meant so much to him as a supporter as well as a former player.
Hailing from Port Glasgow, George signed for the Ton in February 1970 and went on to play for the club until 1980 before returning for the 1985-86 season as player/coach, making a total of 371 appearances.
Last but certainly not least was the induction of left-back Jim Holmes. Affectionately known as ‘Homer’, the defender arrived from Partick Thistle in 1976 and spent 12 years at Cappielow.
Holmes was an integral part of one of the side that won First Division titles in 1977/78, 1983/84 and 1986/87, a campaign which saw him win the SPFA’s Player of the Year award, making a total of 532 appearances.
In total the night raised £7,000 for the club’s youth academy. In coming together to celebrate the stars of the past, those in attendance had gone a long way towards helping creating the stars of the future.
Images: Jonathan Mitchell