Happy New Year! – Hope everyone had a great Christmas and celebrated the New Year in style – let us hope 2021 will be a better year.
I wanted to start off this year with a celebration of the lives of three legends; all family friends, stars who I grew up with and who have been very sad losses for our family.
Celebration of Legends
Robert Harper, known to us as Bobby Ball, was a comedian, actor, and singer. Best known as one half of the comic double act, Cannon and Ball, along with Tommy Cannon, they hosted their own ITV show, The Cannon and Ball Show, for nine years between 1979 – 1988.
Bobby and Tommy were regulars at ‘The Howard Keel Golf Classic’, a celebrity charity golf tournament my dad, Willie Morgan, ran for 27 years.
They were amongst hundreds of stars from across the globe who lent their time and support for the biggest celebrity golf tournament of its kind in Europe to help raise money for the NSPCC and other charities – around £3 million was raised, and the NSPCC asked dad to become a patron of the charity.
Bobby and Tommy attended my Mum’s funeral, who sadly died of cancer in 2004, and I will never forget their support that day.
More recently Tommy and his beautiful wife, Hazel, came to my birthday party I held at my Cheshire home. He was telling guests stories about Bobby and himself when they met the Queen and Prince Philip! And of course, Tommy entertained us with his wonderful voice throughout the day.
Willie Morgan: “Bobby ball was one of the funniest comedy characters I ever met, and a really nice guy”
Norbert Peter Stiles MBE was born in Collyhurst, Manchester and played for England for five years, winning 28 caps.
One of Manchester United’s greats, ‘Nobby’ was already at United when my dad joined in 1969 and I remember the story dad tells of asking Sir Matt Busby if Nobby was ok as he wasn’t sure because he had played against him in the past and he was an animal on the pitch!
‘The Gaffa’ as they all called Sir Matt, said: “Willie, you will be fine. He is a great person.” In many subsequent interviews you can hear my Dad referring to Nobby as “Such a beautiful person.” ‘Happy’ is also a word he uses to describe his late teammate; as do a lot of the old players and people who knew him well.
The United family is extraordinarily strong. Not just the players but also the families. So, when we lose anyone, it is a huge loss.
Willie Morgan: “Nobby Stiles nicknamed ‘Happy’ for that reason, a great player who will be sadly missed by all that knew him”
The first actor to portray fictional British secret agent, James Bond, Sir Thomas Sean Connery starred in seven ‘Bond’ films between 1962 and 1983.
One of my first memories was answering the phone in the family home as a young teenager to what I thought was a friend mocking the voice of Sean Connery. Oh no, it actually was Sean Connery calling for my dad, and I put the phone down on him as I thought it was a hoax!
Dad met Sean for the first time in Marbella, at Las Brisas golf course; both sharing a love of football and golf.
Sean trialled for Manchester United but did not quite make the grade. A blessing, I would say, as he went on to became one of the world’s best-known actors, giving us many years of pleasure on the silver screen.
Dad describes dinner at Sean’s home in San Pedro as “A night to remember.”
Sean’s son, Jason Connery, another great actor famous for his role in ‘Robin of Sherwood’ would come and stay with us at our family home, sometimes bringing his dog, which I loved of course, and I became the dog keeper while the men went off to play golf.
A lovely guy, and he remains a close family friend.
Willie Morgan: “Sean Connery could have been a footballer, but then we wouldn’t have had the greatest James Bond! A wonderful actor and a proud Scotsman.”