Alistair McAlees

Joe Caven 1936 – 2023

Greenock Morton Football Club was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former player John (Joe) Caven, at the weekend. He was 86 years of age and one of the few remaining survivors of the marvellous Morton team of 1963/64 following the deaths of Allan McGraw and Hugh Strachan earlier this year.

Joe was a strong and effective centre forward whose senior career spanned Airdrieonians, where he played from 1957-62, scoring 57 goals in 105 appearances, Brighton and Hove Albion & a single season at Raith Rovers, before signing for Hal Stewart’s Morton side on 13th August 1963.

Joe scored on his debut the following day, in a 5-0 defeat of Stranraer in a League Cup Group game at Cappielow; he didn’t stop there and his 7 goals in 5 appearances in that League Cup section started Morton off on an exciting run all the way to the Final.; unfortunately, Joe was denied his place in that Final line-up through injury.

Morton went on to run away with the Division Two Championship, scoring 137 goals in 36 games. Whilst Allan McGraw made most of the headlines, Joe finished second in the Morton scoring charts with 23 goals from 43 appearances in all competitions that season.

Successive injuries, and the arrival of Danish striker Carl Bertelsen limited his appearances on Morton’s subsequent return to the top division, but he scored a further 7 goals in 21 outings, making his final appearance for Morton in the final game of 1964/65 season.

Joe’s 30 goals in 64 games for Morton do not tell the whole story of his contribution to the Club, and Allan McGraw, who netted an incredible 73 goals in those two seasons alone, was always quick to acknowledge the huge part which Joe played in his success. The following extract is from a Scotsman match report from Morton’s home game against unbeaten (and eventual champions) Kilmarnock played on 12th December 1964.

Caven’s outstanding Display

McGraw got four goals in Morton’s 5-1 victory, but the man of the team was centre forward Caven. We had always previously seen him as an honest worker, but there he was on Saturday working as hard as usual but also using the ball with masterly precision and subtlety.

He scored the first goal himself and then McGraw scored three of his four goals from glorious passes from Caven, and the last one was typical. As Caven was out on the right wing, two Morton players called for the ball. Instead he swung it 40 yards across field to where McGraw was unmarked, and struck him on the chest. McGraw controlled the ball and scored a neat goal as such a lovely pass deserved.

After leaving Morton, Joe finished his playing career in South Africa, playing for Addington FC . However, he retained his strong interest in Morton, and attended games from time to time, particularly when we were playing in the north of Scotland where he lived.
Our thoughts are with Joe’s family and friends at this very sad time.

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