In the cricket museum at Lord’s there is a small silver ‘vesta’ box (to hold matches) which was presented to the captain of the Harrow school team in 1907 to mark his having scored two centuries in the match against Eton at Lord’s. The triumphant schoolboy, who would go on to play for England, was the Liverpool-born Morice Carlos Bird.
He was born on 25th March 1888, the son George Bird and his wife Edith. Gore’s Liverpool directory for 1886 shows the family home as Croxteth Lodge on Ullet Road L17, and George Bird’s occupation as “General and American Merchant” with premises at The Albany, Old Hall Street L1. According to the 1891 census they had moved to 1 East Albert Park L17. (Croxteth Lodge is still standing, as is Albert Park, though it is difficult to establish which house would have had this address.)
Educated at Harrow Morice played in the Harrow Eleven from 1904 to 1907, captaining the team in his final year. The ESPN Cricket website describes his performance in the memorable match against Eton: “Tall and of strong build he dwarfed the other players both in stature and skill. In Harrow's first innings he scored 100 not out in an hour and three-quarters; in the second, when fighting an uphill game, he hit up 131 in two hours and a quarter. Thanks to his fine hitting and his timely declaration, Harrow won at twenty minutes past seven by 79 runs.”
Whilst still in his teens he played a number of times for his native county, Lancashire but only came to prominence in the game two years later playing for Surrey. His form saw him chosen for the M.C.C. team that toured South Africa in the winter of 1909-10 and he visited the country again with the 1913-14 team. In all he played in 10 test matches scoring 280 runs and taking 10 wickets. He captained Surrey from 1911 to 1913, scoring over 1000 runs in each of the seasons 1910,1911 and 1913.
During the First World War he was a second-lieutenant in the 1st Royal Devon Yeomanry, serving in the Dardanelles where he contracted dysentery which caused long-term damage to his health. After the war he spent some time as cricket coach at his old school, Harrow, and later undertook the same duties at the Oval.
In 1920 he married Mary Edith ‘Molly’ Hinds in Calcutta, India. He died on 9th December 1933 at Rizwan Nursing Home, Broadstone, Poole, having been seriously ill for some years.
The Bird family home in the 1880's.
The location of Croxteth Lodge and its grounds on the 1907 OS Map. It stands just by the junction of Ullet Road - Smithdown Road - Greenbank Drive.
© Liverpool Footprints