Sir Stanley Matthews
|Full name||Stanley Matthews|
|Date of birth||(1915-02-01)1 February 1915|
|Place of birth||Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England|
|Date of death||23 February 2000(2000-02-23) (aged 85)|
|Place of death||Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Playing position||Outside right|
Born on 1st February 1915 in Hanley, Stoke on Trent, Matthews started his career at home town side Stoke City as a 17 year old in 1932 (although he was signed as an amateur for the youth team for the 2 years previous) and stayed with them for 15 years, a lifetime in modern football before moving on to Blackpool at the age of 32.
“You’re 32, do you think you can make it for another couple of years?” – Blackpool manager Joe Smith in 1947
The Blackpool team Matthews joined were assembled with attacking entertaining football in mind and as part of a front of four including Stan Mortenson, Jimmy McIntosh & Alex Munro they certainly delivered taking Blackpool to the FA Cup Final in 1948 where they were to lose to Matt Busby’s Manchester Utd in the final. Despite never really being title contenders crowds flocked to see ‘the seasiders’ home and away to see their attacking brand of football.
Matthews and Blackpool would again reach the FA cup Final in 1951 but this time were undone by a brace from Newcastle’s own superstar Jackie Milburn and Stanley had to settle for another runners up medal.
Just after this Stoke enquired about taking Stanley back and whilst the transfer was agreed in principle Joe Smith insisted that Matthews stay promising Matthews that an FA Cup winners medal was still possible, telling him that “a lot of people think I’m mad, but even though you’re 37, I believe your best football is still to come.”
Despite spending some three months of the season out with a muscle injury, the 1952–53 campaign proved Smith’s words to be accurate, as a 38-year-old Matthews won an FA Cup winners medal in a match which was, despite Mortensen’s hat-trick, subsequently dubbed the “Matthews Final“. Bolton were leading 3–1 with 35 minutes to go, but Matthews had “the game of his life” in “the greatest ever FA Cup final” and spurred his team on to a last gasp 4–3 victory. He always credited the team and especially Mortensen for the victory, and never accepted the nickname of the “Matthews Final”.
During the following years with each game missed or poor performance the press where keen to state how age was catching up with him, Whilst Matthews himself always maintained that this was all “balderdash” his manager kept faith and had him as a key part of the Blackpool team, however with most of the team having been rebuilt upon Joe Smiths departure as manager at the end of the 1957-58 season Stanley’s time at Blackpool would soon be up as he found himself marginalised at the club.
Remarkably though in 1961 (at the age of 46!) he was to resign for hometown team Stoke City in the second division. Stanley would go on to help Stoke win the 2nd division in the 1962-63 with Stanley Matthews earning the FWA Player of the Year Award for the 2nd time, 15 years after winning the inaugural ward. (He was also the winner of the Inaugral European Footballer of the Year award in 1955-56, narrowly defeating Alfredo de Stefano 47-44 in the poll)
Sir Stanley (as he was no known after receiving the Knighthood in the January retired in 1965 and played his last league game on 6th February 1965 just after his 50th birthday. Granted a testimonial by Stoke he played his last game in a League XI v International XI (the international team won 6-4) And was carried shoulder high from the field at full time by Puskas & Yashin
Matthews sadly died on 23rd February 2000 (85) but the ‘Wizard of the Dribble’ legend still lives on.
Blackpool Career (1947-1961)
Apps – 379
Goals – 17
- FA Cup, 1953
- FWA Footballer of the Year 1948
- Ballon d’Or 1956