Pic: Andy Nunn
THERE’S always a special story to come out of The Non-League Paper’s National Game Awards each year, and Andrew Morris got in their early – even before a single decanter had been dished out.
“You’ll never guess what’s just happened to us,” said the Westfield founder, still short of breath from his climb up through Stamford Bridge’s main stand to the pre-awards reception.
Morris and lifelong friend, the chairman John Morgan, had just risked putting Antonio Conte’s nose firmly out of joint.
“As we got off the tube we saw the Chelsea manager, and he turned quickly into a coffee shop,” Morris explained.
“So I thought ‘let’s have some fun with this’ and we followed him in. We pull out our invitation which clearly stated the address of the National Game Awards, tapped him on the shoulder and said ‘excuse me sir, you look like you know your way around these parts, I wondered if you happened to know where I can find Chelsea Football Club?’
“He looked at us blankly, in total bemusement before we burst out laughing, explaining we were of course only pulling his leg! He signed our invitation so it was an incredible start to a day we won’t ever forget.”
Morris was there to collect one of our special accolades, the Lifetime Achievement Award. For 50 years, the chief executive has been the heart and soul of Westfields – and he’s done almost every job.
In the midst of celebrating England’s World Cup triumph in 1966, Morris was a budding 16-year-old goalkeeper playing in his first ever match for his local team, and never looked back since.
Getting things off the ground was tough, and he couldn’t have imagined what he would have dedicated his life to had it not been for his decision to build his own football club from scratch.
Now, half a century on, he is still there, doubling up as club secretary and chief executive, forming an integral part of one of the most remarkable stories of the season as the Midland League side made it all the way to the first round of the FA Cup.
But for Morris, 66, this accolade was about more than his own achievements, celebrating the club’s history as well as his own milestone in continuing for all these years.
“It’s absolutely amazing, we came to Stamford Bridge thinking we were going to be celebrating our 50th anniversary and our FA Cup run, but to be given this award is a marvellous feeling for me,” he said.
“I haven’t had time to digest it. Knowing all the people around Non-League football who could win something like this is just lovely. I’m thrilled to bits.
“I’m overwhelmed. We were a group of lads who decided to form a team, went out and bought the West Ham kit whose colours we still wear, and we’ve gone from a Sunday League team right up to Step 5 in Non-League.
“We’ve had a brilliant season, to get to the first round of the FA Cup, beating four teams from higher opposition made everything around the club electric.”