Episode S2E05: The Frank Morris Interview.
In today’s show I interview former Ayr Bruins, Fife Flyers, Murrayfield Racers and Trafford Metros forward Frank Morris.
In total Frank spent 27 years in the UK both as a player, junior coach and Elite League bench coach before deciding to return home to Ontario, Canada.
Prior to that Frank had 5 very successful years with the Concordia Stingers college team in Montreal and, along with his team mates, was inducted into their Hockey Hall of Fame
Although not chosen in the NHL draft, Frank was invited to the Winnipeg Jets training camp, he made the cut, they signed him up and assigned him to their AHL farm team in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
However after a number of months in Moncton, his frustration at the lack of regular shifts in games made him restless and when his agent mentioned an opportunity to play in Europe he jumped at it, within 24 hours he was on a plane heading for Scotland and Glen Henderson’s Ayr Bruins.
Unfortunately, from then on, all did not go according to plan as on arriving in the UK he was promptly deported for not having the correct work visa – he recalls:
Back then it was the “norm” to apply for a work visa after you’d arrived in the country and they’d end up getting it – but not me though!
My agent told me to say I was visiting a friend in Ayr, perhaps it was my open ended plane ticket or maybe the 4 dozen hockey sticks I had with me but UK immigration didn’t buy it!
So a very unhappy Frank was given a police “escort” onto the next available flight back to Montreal.
Fortunately a month later all the necessary paperwork was finally completed and he was able to get back on a plane and return to work, legally, in the UK.
Frank talks about his first impressions on seeing the Limekiln Road rink and the much smaller practice pad and how he was so unhappy that he had to be talked out of going straight back home to Canada.
Fortunately for the Ayr Bruins Frank chose to stay and give it a go.
After an initial settling in period, he spent the next 4 seasons playing for Ayr, icing with quality players like Danny Shea, Tommy Searle, Richard Laplante and player coach Rocky Saganiuk.
We go on to talk about the team reaching the 1989 Wembley Play Off Finals weekend, beating the League and Autumn Cup winners, the Durham Wasps in the semi final before losing the final 3 – 6 to the Nottingham Panthers.
Frank talks of how a 3rd period injury to star import striker Danny Shea was probably the deciding factor in the game and kept them from winning the final.
After 4 years with Ayr, Frank spent the next 2 seasons in Fife. The first season he helped the team return back to the Heineken Premier league via the Heineken promotion/relegation playoffs – ironically pipping former team Ayr to promotion as although both teams finished joint top of their playoff group, Fife were promoted by a goal difference of 1.
The following season Frank moved on to link up with former Ayr coach Rocky Saganiuk and team mate Richard Laplante at the Murrayfield Racers. Success was to follow when they beat the Cardiff Devils in the Benson and Hedges Cup final.
Unfortunately by mid season the club had hit financial difficulties. Due to unpaid invoices the team was locked out of the Murrayfield ice rink and the season ended with the club going bust.
What started out as a season offering so much promise and excitement had ended disastrously for all.
The 1993 – 94 season saw Frank drop down to the first division to play in Manchester with the Trafford Metros. However after a rather mediocre season, he chose to return to Scotland where he settled down to life in Fife, spending the next 8 seasons there, before retiring, he recalls:
There was a lot of highs during those 8 seasons, it was clearly the right move, I was lucky to really connect with the fans, Fife became my home.
At this time Fife had chosen not to be a part of the brand new Superleague, opting instead to join the new British National League (BNL) competing against other quality teams like former Heineken Premier League teams such as the Basingstoke Bison, Cardiff Devils, Humberside Seahawks, Milton Keynes Kings, Murrayfield Racers and Peterborough Pirates.
BNL success was to follow, with Frank as team Captain, leading the team to honours:
We had phenomenal success. We became a real force, we won Championships – one season we even won the BNL “Grand Slam”
In 2003, after deciding to retire, the Fife Flyers honoured him with a testimonial game, his number 47 jersey was also retired at the
game, an honour shared with only 2 other players in the Flyers long history.
These days Frank, together with a business partner, now runs his own hockey academy in Ontario with Junior teams, the Glengarry Highlanders and the O-Town Rebels, plus an U18 prep school federation team – making Frank a very, very busy man.
I give a shout out to “Andrew of Albion” for his iTunes 5 Star rating and review and I also give a shout out to Scott Antcliffe. If you’ve ever bought a Sheffield Steelers programme, chances are you’ve read one of Scott’s articles.
Keep up the good work Scott.
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