DON MORLEY – The ‘Godfather’ of Action Sports Photography

Don Morley 1995

Don Morley riding his ex-works 250cc Greeves Anglian in the 1995 Pre’65 Scottish Trial. Photo Copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven, Scotland. When Don Morley was made aware of this very image, he was keen to obtain a copy and willing to pay for it. Iain Lawrie immediately provided Don with a copy with his compliments!

Trials Guru recognises the talents of a man from Redhill, Reigate in Surrey who has brought literally thousands of wonderful and exciting colour sporting images into magazines, periodicals and books the world over. His name is Don Morley and what’s more he’s a trials rider! Well actually, Don is a frustrated road racer at heart as he didn’t have the funds available to race when he was a young man, so took up trials riding instead, being the less expensive motorcycle sport option!

Described as the ‘Godfather’ of sports photography by Fast Bikes Magazine in the article they ran on Don in their September 2010 edition, Morley is respected the world over by riders, athletes and team managers because of his uncanny ability to press the button just at the right moment.

Don started taking photographs for a living in the 1950’s when it was all glass negatives, progressing to processed roll film. He began his motorcycle photography as a staff photographer with Motor Cycle News in 1957.

Morley is a 100% professional sports photographer, joining forces with Tony Duffy’s “All-Sport International Photographic Agency/Don Morley” in the 1970’s, his images of sporting events and competitors are highly sought after around the globe.

CBTSTB

Morley’s book on Classic British Two-Stroke Trials Bikes a much sought after publication. Truly collectors items now.

Don is also an accomplished author, writing several books which include: Classic British Trials Bikes & Classic British Two-Stroke Trials Bikes; Spanish Trials Bikes and Trials: – A Riders Guide, to name but four!

CBTB 1984 - Don Morley

Published by Osprey in 1984, Don Morley’s Classic British Trials Bikes book was a top seller. Original copies fetch high prices to this day.

TT In camera

“TT – In Camera”, One of the many titles written by Don Morley over the years, with foreword by Geoff Duke.

Morley has photographed many events, not just sporting events, witnessed the Munich Olympic Games terrorism atrocity to name but one major international incident and much, much more. He has had a varied and interesting life as a sports photographer.

Don has owned several ex-factory trials machines in his time as a rider, including the Johnny Brittain Royal Enfield 500 Bullet HNP331. He appeared in the BBC TV series, Perpetual Motion in an edition which covered the Royal Enfield and Enfield of India story in 1992. He built a few special trials machines including a BSA B40 and also wrote a series of articles on the development of four-stroke trials machines for the Classic Motorcycle.

Don was one of the first to take up Pre’65 trials competition back in the early 1980’s on an ex-Tiger Payne AJS.

The one thing you notice about Don is his serious nature, he is a professional after all, he took photographs to make a living, but he does have a good sense of humour as well.

‘Trials Guru’ met Don Morley many years ago at the Pre’65 Scottish at Kinlochleven, initially it was a frosty meeting as ‘The Guru’ intimated that Don had made a “slight mistake with a factory registration number” in one of his books! After a good frank chat, it was all ended very amicably, as this was merely an amateur enthusiast correcting a professional. Let’s face it EVERYONE can make a mistake. Happily, from that day on ‘Trials Guru’ and Don Morley have been good friends, their paths crossing occasionally and they are always happy to meet each other.

Don saw the funny side of the argument and said jokingly: “John, that’s OK, as long as you don’t want Osprey to reprint my book to make a correction!”

Morley once took a photo of ‘The Guru’ on his G3C Matchless with the great Gordon Jackson standing alongside, at Kinlochleven, the machine which was loaned to Jackson for the 2000 parade at the Scottish Six Days. The image has been a prized possession of ‘The Guru’ ever since.

So, the next time you see a photo credit as “All-Sport/Don Morley” under an image of a racing bike at speed, you can say that this image was taken by a true enthusiast and … a trials rider!

Don Morley, Reigate, Surrey, England. – Trials Guru salutes you, because you are an enthusiast as well as a photographic professional. – Thank you also for the kind permission to use one of your wonderful photographs on this website.

Dennis Ireland RG500 Suzuki

Beyond the call of duty! – Don Morley was lying on his side taking this shot of racer Dennis Ireland on his RG500 Suzuki. Unfortunately the throttles stuck wide open, the machine went out of control just a split second after Morley clicked the button. Don suffered a broken leg, Ireland more serious injuries, spending five months in hospital, having eleven operations on leg, ankle foot and tendons. A truly evocative image taken by a true professional. – Photo: strictly not for reproduction without permission of Don Morley – All Rights Reserved. Worldwide copyright.

© – Trials Guru/Moffat Racing, John Moffat – 2014 (All Rights reserved)

© – Image World-wide copyright: All Sports/Don Morley, Reigate, Surrey UK. All Rights reserved.

© – Image World-wide copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven. All Rights reserved.

Please remember, all Don Morley’s photographs and those of his company “All-Sports” are world-wide copyright and must not be used without prior express permission.

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