Greenock Morton Football Club
- Town: Greenock, Inverclyde / Greenock, Inerclyde / Grianaig, Inbhir Chluaidh
- Founded: 1874
- Ground: Cappielow Park (11,589)
- Nicknames: The Ton
- Colours: Blue and white horizontal hooped shirt with blue sleeves, white shorts, and blue socks.
- 2022-23 League: Scottish Championship
- Club Website: https://www.gmfc.net/
- Club Twitter: @Morton_FC
- Club Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialMortonFC/
- Club Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/officialgreenockmorton/
- Best League Finish: 2nd in the Scottish First Division (1916-17)
- Best Scottish Cup Finish: Winners (1921-22)
- Scottish Cup
- Winners (1): 1921–22
- Scottish First Division/Division Two
- Champions (6): 1949–50, 1963–64, 1966–67, 1977–78, 1983–84, 1986–1987
- Scottish Second Division/League One
- Champions (3): 1994–95, 2006–07, 2014–15
- Scottish Third Division
- Champions (1): 2002–03
- Renfrewshire Cup
- Winners: 52 times
Greenock Morton Football Club is a Scottish club that currently plays in the Scottish Championship, the second-tier league in the Scottish football pyramid. They are based in the important port town of Greenock / Grianaig which is located on the south bank of the Clyde at the “Tail of the Bank” where the River Clyde / Abhainn Chluaidh deepens into the Firth of Clyde, and has a population of approximately 42,000. Greenock Morton currently plays its home games at the 11,589-capacity, 5,741-seated Cappielow Park, which has been the home of Morton since 1879 and hosted a full international in 1902 between Scotland and Wales in the Home Championship. The historic ground is located on the eastern outskirts of the town and sandwiched between the main A8 road to the north and the Inverclyde railway line to the south, with Cartsdyke railway station just a five-minute walk away and the James Watt Dock Marina (and River Clyde) on the opposite side of the A8.
The club is one of the oldest senior Scottish clubs having been founded as early as 1874. Initially, it was founded as the Morton Football Club, with the club being named after Morton Terrace, a row of houses next to the club’s original playing field where some of the players lived. This name would be adopted by the club for the vast majority of its history before adapting it to its current name in 1994 to celebrate the club’s links with its hometown. Nonetheless, it is still almost universally referred to as “Morton” in fitba circles. Morton became one of the founding members of the old Scottish Second Division when it was formed in 1893, and finished in eighth position during their debut season, before gaining promotion to the top flight for the first time in the 1899-1900 season, where they would spend the next 27 seasons in.
Morton’s best period came during and after the First World War when the club achieved its best-ever league position of second place during the 1916-17 season, finishing ten points behind champions Celtic. Five years later and the club achieved its greatest-ever triumph when they lifted their first and only Scottish Cup. In front of 70,000 people at Hampden Park, a 12th-minute Jimmy Gourlay goal was the sole decider as the Ton defeated Rangers to lift the old trophy. Throughout their history, Morton has appeared in two other national cup finals, both times facing Rangers in the showpiece events. They reached the 1948 Scottish Cup final but ended up on the wrong side of a 1-0 defeat after extra time (in a replay following a 1-1 draw in the initial showpiece event) in front of 133,750 supporters, whilst they were comprehensively beaten 0-5 in the 1963 Scottish League Cup, this time in front of 105,907 fans at Hampden.
For the vast majority of its history, Morton have competed in either the first or second tiers of Scottish football. So much so, that the club holds the record for the most promotions and relegations from the top flight with ten of each, although the club has not competed in the first tier since 1988. The club suffered huge financial problems towards the start of the 21st century that saw the club drop to the Third Division for the very first time in 2002-03 and experience administration. Thankfully, however, the club was rescued with a takeover and started to rise up the leagues once more making that the sole season the historic club played in the fourth tier of Scottish football. Since the start of the millennium, the club has bounced between the second and third tiers, with Morton last playing in the third tier during the 2014-15 season where they won the Scottish League One title at the first time of asking. It would be a historic title victory as it would mark Morton’s ten league title in the Scottish pyramid, making it the joint-third most crowned league winners in Scotland (alongside Hibernian).
Since Morton’s promotion from League One in 2015, the club has competed in the Scottish Championship with the 2022-23 season being the eighth consecutive season competing in the second tier. Last season, the club narrowly avoided the relegation playoffs by just five points, and were twelve points adrift of the promotion playoffs after suffering the league’s joint-worst attack with just 36 goals scored in 36 league games. A strong conclusion in the second half of the season ensured Morton maintained their position in the Championship for another season after having found itself at the bottom of the table halfway through the season.
To talk about a historic side that seems to exceeding expectations in the Scottish Championship during the 2022-23 season and challenging for a promotion playoff spot (at the time of writing), we spoke to the excellent Leon Mooney. He is a Morton supporter and self-appointed Morton historian. To find out more about Leon, you can find his social media accounts in the links below:
- Twitter: @mooneyleon
Q. Firstly, how did you decide to start following and supporting Greenock Morton?
My father took me to a Scottish Cup replay against Aberdeen in 1978, likely at the suggestion of my uncle. It was our first Morton game and we lost 2-1 but were hooked from that day on (I was just 6 years old).
Q. From your time following the club, who has been your favourite player, and the reasoning behind your choice?
Andy Ritchie, who was with Morton from 1977 until 1983 [forward who played approximately 210 games and scored 100 goals for the club]. A genius with the ball who was capable of some brilliant moments even when having a quiet game. A good comparison would be Matt Le Tissier at Southampton. Andy was my hero as a boy and is now in part of hospitality at Cappielow.
Andy Ritchie with THAT goal.@Morton_FC @AberdeenFC pic.twitter.com/vM0aM3Z783— Leon (@mooneyleon) February 5, 2020
Q. Of the current squad, who would you say is the best player at the club and why?
Probably Liam Grimshaw [28-year-old English midfielder who signed for the club in September 2022]. Does a lot of the hard work in the middle third of the park and does it well. We will be lucky to hold on to him at the end of the season.
Q. Who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent at the club?
I’d go with Lewis McGrattan [22-year-old attacking midfielder]. There is a noticeable difference in our results when he starts compared to when he doesn’t.
Q. Who would you regard as Morton’s biggest or historical rivals?
St. Mirren. Our meetings are referred to as the Renfrewshire Derby, even though Greenock is no longer part of Renfrewshire. Morton had the upper hand in this fixture until the mid-70s league reconstruction. Since then the pendulum has very much swung the other way.
Q. From your time following the club, what would you say has been the best game, result, or performance in your opinion?
Personally, I’d go with the 3-2 win over Rangers at Cappielow in 1988, although the 5-1 win with ten men at St. Mirren in 1999 would run it close. The Rangers win was special because we were already relegated and had conceded 15 goals without reply to them that season, yet our players managed to somehow produce our first home win over them in 70 years.
Q. What do you think of the situation in Scottish league football currently? Are there any improvements you would like to see happen?
Bigger leagues, get rid of B Teams in competitions, and ditch VAR. None of these will happen – the first in particular because of TV money and selfish clubs not wanting to lose extra home games against Celtic or Rangers.
Q. How would you describe the current performance or state of the club? How do you think this season has gone so far?
We are in the early stages of fan ownership and running within our means. This season’s aim, set by the manager Dougie Imrie (after just staying up last season) was to finish clear of the bottom and set a foundation for 23-24. Whilst we have flirted with the top four, and many are disappointed that we look set to miss out on the playoffs, the reality is that the main aim has been achieved and our performance next season will be very telling.
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the club?
Best – despite all the baggage and disappointment that comes with supporting a smaller team, every once in a while a promotion season or an outstanding result (like the cup win against Celtic 10 years ago) comes along.
Worst – not having competed in the top flight since 1988, especially considering some of the clubs who have done so since then.
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of Greenock Morton?
The late chairman told me that there are two conditions to running a club –
- Ensure the continued survival of the club.
- Put the best team out on the park, subject to any constraints created by the first condition.
I’d agree with that, although many other clubs are not run this way. I’d love to see us in the top flight again, but not at the expense of the club’s financial future.
A massive thank you to Leon for answering our questions on the Scottish Championship side Greenock Morton. Remember you can find his social media accounts in the links towards the top of the blogpage.
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