Sad To See You Leaving 2013: Cliff Morgan

by Ray_North on December 28, 2013

Unknown-3There is a certain type of Welshman, who certain types of Welshmen aspire to be – working class, but highly educated, preferably in the arts; a superb rugby player, preferably as an elusive half-back; a teller of tales, preferably with a lilting voice and twinkling eye and a decent and honourable man who is respected and revered.

Cliff Morgan fitted this bill like no other.

Born in Tonyrefail in the Rhondda, the son of a miner, Cliff was destined for the pit if it hadn’t been for two things, first his incredible skill as a rugby player and second his first class mind, that took him as a scholar to the local grammar school then Cardiff University.

As a rugby player, Cliff was a superstar, an outside half in a country that holds outside halves to be the most precious commodity known to man – Cliff made his debut for Cardiff whilst he was still at School and first played for Wales in the great team of 1951, and was in the 10 shirt when Wales defeated the New Zealand All-Blacks in 1953, which incredibly, remains the last time Wales beat the Kiwis. In that match, playing inside the legendary Bleddyn Williams and with incredible Clem Thomas on the flank, Morgan was superb, keeping the Welsh pack going forward against the relentless pressure being exerted by the New Zealanders.

Not surprisingly Morgan was chosen for the British and Irish Lions to tour South Africa in 1955, and was the best player in a successful Lions team, captaining the side in the all important fourth test.

By 1958, he had retired from rugby and was looking for a new career, for most former rugby players in those days, even those who had captained the British Lions, that would have meant a job in teaching or, perhaps as a ‘rep’- but not Cliff, he was made of superior stuff, using his wonderful and natural ability as a communicator he went into a career in broadcasting and became for the next thirty years a mainstay of the BBC, as a sports commentator (Gareth Edwards, this is magnificent, what a score!) and as the man whose dulcet tones and beautiful use of English were perfect for those big outside broadcast events such as royal weddings and funerals.

Sadly, Cliff suffered from throat cancer in his later life which, for a man who was known for his voice, seemed particularly cruel. Thankfully, we are left with some legendary images and pieces of commentary that will live on forever.

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