Glowing tributes after death of retired Yorkshire journalist John Morgan

Tributes have been paid to a much-loved  Leeds journalist  who was awarded the MBE for his services to charity.

John Morgan (right) pictured with Leeds United legend John Charles and boxer Nigel Benn.

Retired sports correspondent John Morgan died aged 90 at home in Scarcroft, north Leeds, on Tuesday May 12 with his wife Maureen, 90, and daughter Stella, 65, by his side.

Mr Morgan, who worked for the Yorkshire Evening Post (YEP) for more than 50 years, had been suffering from vascular dementia for around ten years.

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FIFA World Cup commentator John Helm first worked with Mr Morgan at the YEP in the late 1960s and later at Radio Leeds and ITV's Calendar.

John Morgan pictured with triple Grand National wining racehorse Red Rum

Mr Helm said: "John and Geoff Hemingway, who also passed away recently, were my two greatest mentors.

"John was a wonderful journalist who had an incredible knack of finding stories.

"He could be out until 2am but he would be first in the office and he would have picked up a story somewhere along the way."

"He was the racing correspondent when I was at Radio Leeds in the 1970s.

John Morgan (right) pictured at the races with Leeds Uniterd players Frank Gray, David Harvey and Tony Currie.

"He was 'Mr Racing' in Yorkshire. Everyone knew him and everyone loved him on the racecourses."

Mr Morgan, who was born in Castleford in February 1930 and brought up in Gipton, Leeds, started work as a 14-year-old office junior at the YEP's Albion Street offices in 1944.

He trained as a journalist and worked in the racing department, which he was soon in charge of while writing as tipster 'The Ranger.'

Mr Morgan later became involved in reporting on all sports and wrote a column called 'Phil John.'

John Morgan

He also wrote a popular column called 'Morgan's Yorkshire' and went on to write a number of books including Yorkshire cricket legend Fred Trueman's biography 'Trueman's Tales.'

He regularly contributed to BBC Radio Leeds and appeared on ITV Thursday night show Yorksport with Fred Dineage in the 1970s.

Mr Morgan, who continued as a racing correspondent throughout his career, was renowned for his comedy routines while acting as master of ceremonies at hunreds of after dinner speaking engagements across the county.

In the 1970s he set up ‘Morgan’s All Stars’ fundraising cricket team, which featured Leeds United players including Eddie and Frank Gray, Paul Madeley, Norman Hunter and Peter Lorimer.

John Morgan pictured with six times World Champion snooker player Ray Reardon

Leeds and Hunslet RLFC players also turned out along with rugby union and Yorkshire County cricketers including Geoff Boycott and celebrities from Yorkshire soap Emmerdale.

The All Stars raised thousands of pounds for charities, including the YEP's Half and Half Appeal in aid of St Gemma’s Hospice and Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice.

Mr Morgan was regarded as a friend by stars from a wide range of sports including Leeds United legend John Charles, Yorkshire cricketer David Bairstow and World Chamiopn snooker player Joe Johnson.

He was also a major supporter of amateur boxing in Leeds.

Retired amateur and professional boxing manager Terry O'Neill 91, of Colton, Leeds, said: "He did so much to help amateur boxing in Leeds.

"He supported all the local boxing clubs. He was master of ceremonies on a lot of my boxing shows and did stand up sit down bingo."

A programme for a Sporting Salute dinner in John Morgan's honour to mark his 60th birthday

Mr Morgan was Hunslet RLFC's media manager in the mid 1990s and was master of ceremonies at the club's fundraising dinners.

Hunslet RLFC director Ian Johnson, said: “He was a master at extracting as much as possible from bidders at auctions and I am sure some people went away wondering how they had paid so much for a piece."

Hunslet chairman Kenny Sykes, said “I too am saddened to hear of John’s death. He had a very soft spot for Hunslet and was an honorary member of the Former Players Association, having been a guest speaker."

Mr Morgan managed to sneak in a brief interview with the Queen as she presented him with an MBE for services to charity in 2005.

Mr Morgan's son Richard, 67, said: "It was the year the Ascot Racecourse was being rebuilt and Royal Ascot was being moved to York Racecourse.

"He asked the Queen what she thought of the move as she pinned his medal on. She said it would be very interesting.

"He came out of Buckingham Palace and phoned the YEP and the story was on the front page 'Morgan gets gong and interviews Queen."

Richard Morgan added: "He had a gift for listening to people and for language and creative writing.

"He was a larger than life character. He loved mum and he loved his children and he worshipped his grandchildren and great grandchildren."

John Morgan also leaves youngest son Kevin, 54; brothers Edward and Bernard; sister Kitty and eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

His middle son Philip died from natural causes in 2003 aged in his early 40s.

Former YEP feature writer Anne Pickles, said: "John was probably the kindest, warmest, funniest man I’ve known.

"What he didn’t know about sport - any sport - wasn’t worth the effort. He was regarded, certainly in Yorkshire, as the absolute authority in all sporting matters.

"But it will be his (awful) jokes & brilliantly hilarious stories, his freely offered professional help to younger colleagues and his generous friendship I’ll remember from our days at the YEP.

"No one could fill a room with laughter like Johnny. Legends are made from John Morgan’s DNA."

Ex-YEP reporter Pete Lazenby and Mr Morgan were both on the committee for the annual fundraising Leeds Press Ball, which was held at Leeds Town Hall for many years.

Mr Lazenby said: "John was always the master of ceremonies and would come out with his corny jokes that we had heard a hundred times, but everybody would be bursting out laughing.

"He was an irrepressible entertainer. He was wonderful company and a tremendously big-hearted man.

"It was a pleasure to know John and to be one of his colleagues at the YEP for so many years."

Veteran YEP photographer Steve Riding, said: "John was great to work with when I was a junior photographer, he always had time to help.

"But my biggest memory of John was that it did not matter what sportsman we met - they were friends with him.

"Racing, football, rugby cricket, he knew everyone, but more importantly they knew him.

"He had such a wonderful manner with people and it really was a pleasure to work with him."

Retired YEP reporter Tony Harney said: "I worked alongside John Morgan for almost 50 years.

"He was more than a very talented sports reporter, he was a fine journalist and highly regarded in all walks of life.

"He was a great family man and tireless worker and fundraiser for many charities.

"John's humour and friendliness made life more enjoyable for everyone fortunate enough to rub shoulders with him."

John Morgan pictured with Yorkshire and England cricketers Chris Silverwood and Michael Vaughan. Photo: Steve Riding
John Morgan pictured with former professional football player and Yorkshire cricketer Arnie Sidebottom. Photo: Steve Riding.