West Ham United were saddened to hear of the passing of former Hammer Jackie Morley at the age of 79.
Morley followed in the footsteps of a number of his fellow Irishmen when he joined West Ham in September 1956, emulating the likes of Tommy Moroney, Frank O'Farrell and Danny McGowan in moving from the Emerald Isle to east London.
A talented young soccer and Gaelic football player, Morley started out with Ballyphehane United and Evergreen United - the same club which produced Moroney - before moving to the Boleyn Ground.
After joining the ground staff, Morley made his debut for the Hammers' Metropolitan League side against Hastings United on 29 September 1956. A first-team debut arrived two months later, when the Cork-born player appeared alongside Ernie Gregory and John Bond in a 3-1 Essex Professional Cup victory over Chelmsford City on 26 November.
The following season, 1957/58, Morley helped the Hammers to reach the final of the Essex Professional Cup, where they were beaten 5-1 by Chelmsford in May 1958.
While he failed to make a Football League appearance for West Ham, Morley was a regular for the Club's London Midweek League and Football Combination sides, totalling exactly 100 appearances and 13 goals.
Morley returned to his home city with League of Ireland newcomers Cork Hibernians in 1958. Under his captaincy Hibs soon became a major force and reached two FAI Cup finals. In 1964 international stars Johnny Haynes, Bert Trautman, Pat Crerand, Maurice Setters and Hammers Bond and Noel Cantwell paid him the ultimate tribute when travelling to Cork for a benefit match in his honour.
After moving to Waterford United in 1967, he won four League of Ireland titles and played in the European Cup against Manchester United and Turkish giants Galatasaray
Morley, who later coached promising youngsters in his native Cork, was inducted into the Cork Soccer Hall of Fame in 1999. His wife, Joan, is a former Cork and Munster camogie player while children Pat, Dave and Sheenagh have all represented the County in various sports.
Everyone at West Ham United would like to pass on their condolences to the family and friends of Jackie Morley at this sad time.