Former Charlton club photographer Tom Morris, who has died suddenly at the age of 76, was a familiar figure on the goal line at Charlton matches, home and away, for more than three decades, writes Rick Everitt.
On a typical match day in the 1990s, say, he might be producing pictures for three or four of the local weekly newspapers including the South London Press, the Mercury, the Valley Review and Voice of The Valley, and he rarely failed to deliver, even when the game itself had been less than memorable.
A lifelong Addicks fan and Plumstead resident, Tom had started taking pictures from the terraces at Charlton in the 1960s while working on early computers in the banking sector.
Before long he was submitting them to the local press and the club itself in the hope of publication.
He was so successful – and persistent – that by the mid-1970s it had become his full-time job, although it remained very much a labour of love.
Tom was a fan, and when he stopped taking pictures in the mid-2000s he continued to watch the home games from the press box.
By then he had built up a vast archive of Charlton images, including what became the most recognised shots from nearly all the major games of the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
While football was his speciality, he was a cricket fan too and enjoyed capturing the action at Kent and local league clubs, as well as bowls, for the benefit of the press in the summer.
He was also ever-present as the struggle to return to The Valley unfolded and his pictures told the story of the Valley Party campaign and untold numbers of public meetings.
But it was sport itself that remained his first love and the main focus for his camera.
Tom never lost his interest in computers and was instrumental in the setting up of the club’s official website in 1995, which makes it ironic that it was partly the development of digital photography that led to his retirement.
As a one-man band he simply couldn’t compete for speed with the photographic agencies who filed their pictures to the internet from the side of the pitch, although in truth he had probably had enough of sitting out in the rain.
For his Twitter account he described himself as: “Retired, ex-Charlton Ath photographer. NOT the 4 times winner of the Open golf or his son. Fan of Shaun the Sheep and Macs.”
He continued to make his archive available to a variety of publications and collaborated on a number of Charlton books.
Sadly, he never quite got round to producing his own, but he has left us quite a rich legacy of photographic memories.
And he will be much missed. Former player Gary Nelson said: “Tom was so talented and so unassuming. Always took our endless teasing with patience and good humour.”
Tributes from Charlton fans:
Lewis Coaches: Tom, what can one say. As a friend you always made us welcome, as a photographer you always caught the correct moment. Having Zoom calls with Tom during lockdown this year your technical sense no one could fault. Now we can no longer speak with you but your photos that hang on our wall will always remind us of you. A friendship that goes back to the early 1970s. Always remembered. You and Colin Cameron must be having a good catch up now. We will raise a glass to you tonight.
Anna_Kissed: Tom was a pleasant chap who was very good at his job. The vast body of work that he created will continue to be enjoyed by many. Rest in peace, Tom Morris.
Mendonca in Asdas: They say a picture says a 1,000 words, and boy did this guy know how to take a photo, RIP Tom.
Hamlet: So sad to hear of Tom’s passing. So many iconic images came from Tom’s camera lens. Tom would always find time to stop and chat to me about Charlton or Kent whenever I bumped into him in Woolwich or at Canterbury. An unassuming and humble man who will be sadly missed.
itchyaddic: So sad to hear of his passing. Was at school with him at St Margarets and The Roan. Used to see him at the matches in the 1970s, 80s and 90s loaded up with cameras running to get a good position behind the goal that Charlton were attacking. Finally caught up with him at the Valley after seeing his Twitter account and talked about the old times of Plumstead, schools and mutual friends. RIP Tom.
Main Pic: Lennie Lawrence on pitch at Carlisle in 1986 after Charlton won promotion back to top flight following 29 year absence All Photos: Tom Morris
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