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13 November 2014

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You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > History > Local Heroes > Sir Stanley Matthews

Sir Stan takes on his opponent

Sir Stan takes on his opponent

Sir Stanley Matthews

Stoke City's favourite son, Sir Stanley Matthews, graced the football field with his silky skills for over 30 years. We look back over his career with photos, expert comment and your memories.

Sir Stanley Matthews - the first professional footballer to be knighted - was the most renowned player of modern times.
His professional career covered some 33 years. When he retired in 1965 -aged 50 - he had made nearly 700 League appearances for Stoke City and Blackpool and had played for England 84 times, including two appearances for Great Britain.

As an outside-right he was without compare.
A thin, frail-looking man, he had a marvellous sense of balance and timing; his sudden bursts of speed over 20 yards or so was one of the wonders of the game, and earned him the nickname "the wizard of dribble".

His passing was extraordinarily accurate, and he was not so much a scorer as a creator of goals for others. Moreover, his sportsmanship was exemplary, and he was often referred to as "the first gentleman of soccer".

It was said Matthews' presence in a team could add 10,000 to away gates.

'Wizard of dribble'

Known as the 'Wizard of Dribble', Stanley Matthews was born February 1st, 1915 at Seymour Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.
Son of a professional featherweight boxer, he joined Stoke City straight from school at the age of fourteen.

In 1932 he became a full-time professional, and two years later played for England in a full international for the first time.

In 1947, after war service in the RAF, he left Stoke City, and joined Blackpool Football Club, with which he stayed for 14 years.

"The Matthews Cup Final"

It was during this period that he achieved his greatest triumph in what became known as "the Matthews Cup Final" of 1953, paving the way for Blackpool's last-minute victory against Bolton Wanderers.

In 1956, the first-ever European Footballer of the Year award ceremony was held, and, almost inevitably, it was Mathews who received the tribute.
He played his last international - against Scotland - in 1957, and in the same year was made a CBE.

Clean slate (he was never booked) Matthews rejoined Stoke City in 1961, when they were near the bottom of the second division.
The team was transformed, gates rose from 9,000 to 36,000 and the following year they were promoted.

The player was knighted in 1965, and played his last game in the same year, five days after his 50th birthday.
Great players from all over Europe - men like Yashin, di Stefano, Masopust and Schnellinger - came to Stoke to take part in his testimonial match on 28th April of that year.

It's astonishing to think that the man only won one major medal, that of an FA Cup winner.  However many Stoke City fans believe that their team would have won the First Division title in 1947, had not the club decided to sell him to Blackpool with just a few games remaining in the season.

Later Life

After giving up playing, Sir Stan took on the thankless task of reviving Port Vale's fortunes as their manager (he was a Vale fan from his youth, ironically); but turned away from management after that unsuccessful stint to become better known as a coach, particularly in Malta and South Africa.

He never lost sight of his home town though, and in his last years returned to Stoke to live in the Penkhull district.
He was feted by Stoke City and made Club President - an honorary title, but one that Sir Stan much appreciated. Recently, the club has teamed up with the Stanley Matthews Foundation (which is behind the 'Sir Stan Day' idea) to mount a small museum in his memory at the Britannia.

Following the death of his beloved wife, Sir Stan became more and more frail, and died in February 2000.
It's estimated that 10,000 people stood in tribute as his funeral procession passed through the city.

BBC Radio Stoke was present at Sir Stan's funeral in 2000. To remember the day, we have searched the archive and found the two documentaries made about the day.  To hear both the programmes, click on the links on the top-right hand side of this page. (You will need Real Player installed to hear it.)

For more articles and photos about Sir Stan and his legacy in the city, see the links in the top right-hand corner of this page.

What do you think about Sir Stan?

If you saw the great man in action, or met him in later life, or have a handed-down memory - let us know on the comments board, below.
And if you're too young to have known the great man, but have seen his skills on film, you can comment on that instead!

last updated: 04/01/2010 at 08:34
created: 20/04/2006

Have Your Say

THANKS FOR ALL YOUR COMMENTS. THIS BOARD IS NOW CLOSED.

evie
i am related 2 him he is my grandads uncle

sir connor emery the 3rd
stan was a great friend of mine , and id just like to say that its stupendus to get this much support from the city public, he would be proud...

Sandra Clements
Sir Stan was a very good friend to my father Harry Bishop when they were together at Wellington Road school in Hanley. My Father was also on Sir Stans "This is your Life IN THE 50's of which I still have the Script and Photo's even on my Father 80th Birthday he received a card form Sir Stan. Saddly they are now both gone to the big Football club in the sky.

Simon Pinnell
Many years ago, I was on holiday as a child with my parents in Malta. We were wandering round just outside of the capital Valetta and obviously looking lost when a car pulled up with a very nicely spoken English gent in it, asking if he could help. We told him where we were trying to get to and he offered us a lift. I sat in the front and the driver and I got talking about the upcoming FA Cup Final. He told me that some of the Arsenal players would be coming out to stay with him after the game (it was either 1979 or 1980). It wasn't until he had dropped us off and told me he hoed I would enjoy the game (I'm an Arsenal fan) that I realised the kind driver was the great Sir Stanley Matthews. Not only the wizard of the dribble but the magician of the Maltese roads! What a gent! I only wished I had realised who he was when I was in his car and got his autograph!

trey
he was an amazing player and i would love to meet him....and i wish he could help me write this research paper about him!

RAY FARRUGIA MALTA
I have very fond memories of Sir Stan...I had invited him to play at a friendly football match between lecturers and students at the University of Malta in the late 70's. He had accepted gladly. Sir Stan still showed us a trick or two during a very entertaining game...I still treasure a hand written letter he had sent me to accept my invitation and a group photo with Sir Stan autographed by the master himself.

g.greensmith@hotmail.com
i was a staunch supporter of stoke and the great stan for many years and had the pleasure of meeting him in the stoke gym i would like to know where i could purchase some of stans soccer games on video thank you always asupporter of stoke best wishes from Canada

gj and lb ltd bg
DAWN WE COULD SAY HIS MIDDLE NAME WAS EARNEST BECAUSE THAT WAS WHAT HE WAS HONEST I SAW HIM DOWN THE OLD GROUND LIKE BILL MY WIFE AND I WENT FOR A DRINK IN THE TERACE IN PENKHULL AND SIR STAN AND MR GIFFORD WERE THERE THEY ALL CHATED AWAY THEN THET LEFT RAINE MY WIFE SAID WHAT NICE MEN THEY WERE WHO WERE THEY I TOLD HER MR GIFFORD WAS THE SWIMMMING INSTUCTOR MANY YEARS AGO AT STOKE BATHS AND OTHER GENTLEMAN WAS THE CHAP WHO HAD THE PEACOCKS AS SECURITY SIR STAN SHE ALLMOST FELL OVER I HOPE YOU FIND OUT THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION BUT SIR STAN AND EARNEST ARE RELATED

BIll Broun
I was lucky enough to see Stan play many tmes, I will never forget his dribbles and those accurate passes to the goal mouth! Yes!I can say my home team WBA fans all loved to see him show up at the Hawthorns!His memory will never die,

dawn
did he have a brother or close relative called Ernest?

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