“Team Patriarch”

Converts, basketball champions, and patriarchs

Patriarchs basketball
The Liverpool District basketball team 1969 Back standing left to right: David Morris, Frank Hitchmough, John Morris, Alan Duvall Front kneeling left to right: Bill Gibson, Arthur Ireland (Photo credit Alan Duvall)

The Liverpool District basketball team of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints won the All-British Athletics Association championship not once but twice in the late 1960s; once in Glasgow, Scotland and again in Manchester, England in August of 1969.

Basketball layup

These were hard-fought games for the lads of Liverpool and in the finals at Glasgow, Scotland they were paired against a team that was primarily made up of American Air Force personnel who were members of a nearby Air Force base branch of the Church. Although there was a great difference in height and experience between the two teams, the talented and hard playing Liverpool lads came out as victors in the end proving they were indeed the true All-British Athletics Basketball champions that their title claimed them to be.

Basketball players

In the early 1970s, the Liverpool District basketball team dissolved as many married and moved on to greater adventures. John and David Morris moved to New Zealand while Frank Hitchmough emigrated to Canada. Others remained in England and although they managed a few more basketball triumphs, they would never play together as they once had in the glory days of the late 1960s. Still, each member of the team went on to marry and serve in many leadership positions in the Church including each serving as bishop and amazingly each team member has since been ordained a patriarch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

David Morris
David Morris, Patriarch, Mt. Roskill Stake, New Zealand

First to be called was David Morris in 2001 as patriarch of the Mt. Roskill Stake in New Zealand. Then in September of 2007, David’s brother and fellow Liverpool teammate, John Morris, was also called as patriarch of the Mt. Roskill Stake in New Zealand.

John Morris
John Morris, Patriarch, Mt. Roskill Stake, New Zealand

Arthur Ireland was next to be called as patriarch of the Chester England Stake in 2010, followed by Alan Duvall as patriarch of the Liverpool Stake in 2016. Of note, Alan Duvall, before he was called as patriarch, had just served a senior mission with his wife in Victoria BC, Canada where fellow teammate Frank Hitchmough was serving as stake president.

Left to right: Arthur Ireland, Patriarch, Chester Stake, England; Alan Duvall, Patriarch, Liverpool Stake, England; Frank Hitchmough, Patriarch, Victoria BC Stake, Canada

Finally, in February of 2024, the fifth remaining member of the championship team, Frank Hitchmough, was ordained patriarch of the Victoria British Columbia Stake in Canada. The All-British Athletics Association basketball champions were once again united in a cause; that of serving their respective stakes as patriarchs providing blessings from their Heavenly Father. Today all are active patriarchs with the exception of John who has non-functioning status at this time, and Bill Gibson who unfortunately passed away early in his life.

Patriarch Frank Hitchmough said of this heavenly-stacked team of converts from a small district in Liverpool, “This is a great testimony to the fact that from small and humble beginnings amazing things can be accomplished in the Lord.” He then quipped, “The basketball championship team is now affectionately referred to as ‘Team Patriarch!’'

All are indeed on the winning side of the Lord and have a testimony that as one plays and works hard, the Lord uses us to accomplish His important and sacred work no matter the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in our way.