Dan Coker's Match Preview
Welcome to the latest in a series of articles designed for international matches – a look back at former Hammers players who wore the Three Lions of England.
Today, with England having faced Kosovo in Euro 2020 qualifying at Southampton earlier this week, we look back at a former Hammers and England outside-left – Jackie Morton. John ‘Jackie’ Morton was born in Sheffield on 26th July 1914 to parents Colin and Lily. Jackie, who once worked in a Sheffield steel mill, turned pro at the age of 17, after learning the ropes with Woodburn Council School and Woodhouse Alliance before joining Gainsborough Trinity. He became the first of West Ham United’s many successful signings from the Midland League club when he joined for £600 in December 1931.
Morton made his debut for the Hammers at the age of 17 in a 1-1 draw with reigning champions Arsenal in front of 34,852 at Upton Park on 26th March 1932 and scored his first goal for the club in his third match, a 7-2 defeat at Blackpool on 2nd April 1932. The Hammers, though, would be relegated at the end of the 1931/32 season.
1932/33 saw Jackie make 42 appearances, turning in many sterling displays and scoring 13 goals, including the first of his four braces for the club in a 4-3 defeat at Southampton on 24th September 1932. The Hammers finished 20th in their first season back in the Second Division – it was a traumatic campaign which saw Charlie Paynter take over from Syd King as manager, with King committing suicide within a month of his sacking. 1933/34 was less profitable for Morton in terms of goals but represented a better season for the Irons, who finished seventh with Jackie scoring six goals in 44 appearances. The Hammers came within a whisker of promotion in 1934/35, losing out on goal average to Bolton in the race for the second promotion spot after both sides finished on 56 points – Morton contributed seven goals in his 42 matches. At the end of that season, on 8th May 1935, Jackie had the honour of being chosen for the Anglo-Scots XI in the King George V Silver Jubilee Match.
West Ham again came close to promotion in 1935/36 as they finished fourth, three points adrift of Charlton in second with Jackie scoring five goals in 26 games. Morton really came into form in 1936/37, scoring 14 goals in 41 appearances, the highest he was to score in a single season in east London. Four goals in two games arrived in February 1937, with a brace in a 2-2 home draw with Nottingham Forest on 6th February 1937 followed by another double the following week in a 4-1 win over Norwich, again at the Boleyn Ground. The Hammers finished sixth in the Second Division.
Such fine form was rewarded when the 23-year-old made his England debut in a 5-4 win against Czechoslovakia at White Hart Lane on 1st December 1937. In doing so, he became the 11th West Ham United player to represent England, playing outside-left with Hammers team-mate Len Goulden playing inside-left. Jackie marked what would be his only England appearance by scoring after 20 minutes – according to The Times, “he was put through cleverly, beat his man, and finished with a fine shot just out of Planicka’s reach”. On Morton’s opposite flank, the great Stanley Matthews contributed a hat-trick – just over six months younger than Morton, it was to be Matthews’ only treble for his country. Jackie would almost certainly have won more caps but for an untimely injury which resulted in Arsenal’s Cliff Bastin taking his place – he could count himself unlucky not to have won more recognition.
The speedy Yorkshireman, standing at 5’9 and weighing in at 10st 4lbs, was described as a “frail-looking winger, fast and possessing a multitude of tricks and a good shot”. He made 40 appearances in 1937/38, scoring three goals as the Hammers finished ninth. He played 35 games in 1938/39, scoring eight goals. He struck his fourth and final brace in a 5-2 win over Swansea at the Boleyn on 8th October 1938. Jackie’s final goal for the Hammers came in a 6-2 win at Norwich on 11th March 1939; his final match in claret and blue was as a 24-year-old in a 1-0 defeat to Luton at Upton Park the following week, on 18th March 1939. Jackie Morton had scored 57 goals in 275 appearances for West Ham United.
The outbreak of the Second World War effectively ended Jackie’s footballing career. He served in the Royal Air Force and worked as a bookmaker in London’s East End after the war. He is pictured here in 1962. Jackie Morton died on 8th March 1986 in Milton Keynes, aged 71.
The previous articles in the series are:
Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne
Sir Geoff Hurst
Frank Lampard Senior
Sir Trevor Brooking
Frank Lampard Junior