It is with great sadness that we pass on the news of the passing of Brian Morgan.

From Jarrod Meagher
Vale Brain Morgan (Morgs)

Brian coached and mentored hundreds of runners over many years through Ringwood Professional Athletic Club (RPAC). He believed in all of his runner's abilities and had great success with runners in the VAL. He coached runners to victories at every meet on the calender including the stawell gift winner, Rod Lewis in 1994.

As well as being a successful coach, Brian was the ultimate role model and friend to the runners he coached over the decades at Ringwood. Not only did he provide them with coaching but often gave life advice and support and led by example along the way. His door was always open for any of his current and past runners.

Brian was also known as a great teller of stories and jokes who had a huge bank of tales of pro running which he would often recount (sometimes more than once!).

Brian's legacy lives on through RPAC with Simon coaching and Mark as president, the club will continue to support runners at Ringwood for many years to come.

From Jim Cain
Sad to advise that Donna, Brian's daughter, has advised me that long time associate and active committee member until retirement that Brian passed away in hospital last Friday.

Brian was well into his 90’s I think 93 or 94 and he was celebrated by Maroondah Council on his 90th at a Council meeting where he was bestowed with a letter of appreciation for his services.

Brian was originally I think the first women’s sprint coach, coaching up on the oval at Mullin Road. Brian went on to start the Ringwood Professional Athletic Club and commenced the Ringwood Gift, canvassing for many years the advertising and prize money. Since my time in Athletics Ringwood, until the last few years, he was an active member of all the organising committees in its various forms . Brian was a solid support to me especially in the years that I was organising the Ringwood Junior Athletic Championships, The Pros were very strong in support between Brian and Gary Barker.

So ends another of our squad who helped establish Athletics in Ringwood.

An interview from December 2019 with the VAL

BRIAN MORGAN - By David Griffin

Professional foot running and the Stawell Gift in particular, has a habit of creating legends.

Whilst most are found wearing spikes pounding the Central Park grass, some are hidden amongst the crowd, casting a skilled eye over those that run.

Having first walked through Stawell’s Central Park gates way back in 1951, Brian Morgan is one of those legends.

The 91-year-old Ringwood Gift stalwart has forgotten more about the pro game that most will ever know and recalls his first year in the game as if it was yesterday.

“My very first run was at the Maribyrnong greyhounds in 1951”.

“They used to have races at the greyhounds every Tuesday night and they ran pro races in between the dog races. It was a great time and very popular”, Morgan said.

For a brief time Morgan balanced competing with coaching.

“My focus was on the people I coached really, although I did win the 70 meters at Northcote”.

“I raced the shorter distances earlier in the day because I wanted to focus on coaching later in the day”.

“I didn’t win at Stawell, the closest I got was a 3rd in the 70 meters. I was probably a better coach than I was runner anyway and I devoted more time to that over the years”.

His greatest moment at Stawell was in 1994 when Rod Lewis saluted in the Stawell Gift.

Lewis held out a fast finishing Steve Brimacombe who ran off Scratch.

“Lewis winning was my greatest thrill. He wasn’t the favorite going into the race but ran very well off the 7.5 meter mark”.

“I have been lucky really. Jarrod Meagher another of my athletes ran in the Stawell Gift final three times. He was a very good runner.

John DeCoite was another athlete trained by Morgan who was roundly acknowledged as one of the best Pro runners of any era.

DeCoite made the final of Stawell in 1981 and was narrowly beaten into 3rd place when Scotsman George McNeill won. He was also an Australian sprint champion.

In the 68 years since Morgan first took the journey up to Stawell, he has seen the best come and go.

“I have seen a lot of great runners but the best run I ever saw was in 1975 when Jean Louis Ravelomanantsoa won”.

“He ran 12.0 on a rain sodden track from scratch and I will never forget it.

“It’s a good story because Ravelo nearly went home before the heats when he realized that it was a handicap race. He didn’t know he was starting behind other runners. He obviously stayed and its ended up being one of the great stories out of the Stawell Gift”.

“I also liked Bill Howard and John Stoney, they were great runners”.

Howard won Back to back Stawell Gifts in 1966 and ’67, and Stoney was runner up to Barney Ewell in the 1950 world sprint championship.

Morgan admits to seeing the sport change a lot over the years.

“It was very popular years ago, its different these days and its seems to have lost its prestige a bit. You never really see it in the paper at all and back in the day it was always in the paper”.

“The stewards were also tougher. They aren’t as tough now. If you didn’t run up to expectation you were suspended with no argument to be had”.

“Suspensions and fines were given out weekly and you don’t see that these days”.

Morgan was also heavily involved in football and after retiring as a player, was a driving force in the formation of the North Ringwood Football club in 1967.

Aussie rules was a popular place to spot running talent and many of Morgan’s athletes came from football.

“I trained well over 150 athletes over the years. A lot came from football, some stayed a long time, and some disappeared”.

“I think I have trained winners at every major running carnival in Victoria over my time”.

Morgan is also responsible for the establishment of the Ringwood Gift 41 years ago.

“I have enjoyed the sport, its kept me healthy and I have got to know a lot of people”.

“I almost died having an operation earlier this year. If I wasn’t for my running and being fit they told me I wouldn’t have survived, so Pro running has kept me alive you might say”.