Tributes have been pouring in from WFC members and former players after George Watson’s College head groundsman Willie Morton passed away suddenly aged 58.
To many Willie, the spin bowler who served Stirling County, Watsonians, Penicuik, Warwickshire and his country with distinction during his cricketing days, was known as a top quality player and coach.
However, to those involved with WFC, he was the groundsman who helped produce quality pitches at Myreside for over 30 years while he could often be found sharing a pint and a laugh with club members after rugby matches in the clubhouse.
Willie, originally from Stirling, even played for the club previously and used to tell tales about how his boot got ‘champagne’ teams like the fourth XV out of trouble on more than one occasion…
And for those of us who came up through GWC into the WFC set-up Willie was a well known character and he always took great pride in seeing former pupils doing well whether it was within rugby or another field.
WFC director of rugby Chris Hunter said:“Willie was very much part of the club, while we have our coaching staff and physios we were in constant dialogue with Willie, always trying to keep on his good side!
“Without doubt, Myreside will never be the same again. Willie was not only a friend of the club, but he was a good friend to so many of us on an individual basis.
“The banter enjoyed with him in the clubhouse on a Saturday evening over a few pints was always a pleasure. There was always a huge respect of Willie from all the players.
“I’m sure at times we pushed our luck with Willie - during my time at the club I can always remember when [recent coaches] Marcus [Di Rollo] or Stevie [Lawrie] would have the boys training on the stand pitch and before long Willie would appear after agreeing to allow the boys train in the dead ball areas only to see a full scale 15 v 15 training match underway!
“But a bit of chat and change of subject onto Hearts and Willie would be fine again.
“One of my favourite memories was when we played Marr at home [in January 2018]. Edinburgh had played a PRO14 match against Southern Kings on the Friday night.
“For around 30 minutes it was a monsoon and the pitch was in a terrible state. I messaged Willie to check if the game would be in doubt the following day, ‘No bother Chunts. Leave it with me and the boys’.
“Willie and his team worked on the pitch from the early hours and when the teams arrived it was as if nobody had played the previous evening.
“Willie will be greatly missed, however, our fond memories will ensure his legacy lives on at Myreside.”
Gary Heatly, a WFC member who knew Willie for over 20 years, added:“Willie’s banter and energy always brought a smile to your face while you could never go past Myreside without failing to see him and get a wave from him.
“One of life’s real good guys, his presence really will be missed as the 2019/20 rugby season cranks into gear, but as a lover of sport he would want all players representing WFC to go out there and give it their all, play hard and fair and then enjoy the company of teammates and fellow members in the clubhouse - win or lose - afterwards.”
WFC president Euan Kennedy added:“Willie was the heart and soul of outside sport at Myreside and at the school. He will be sorely missed by everyone at the club.”
On behalf of everyone at WFC, we would like to pass on our sincere condolences to Katie, Keith and all of Willie’s family and close friends.
We will circulate funeral details when we have them.