Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1915, was born Stanley Matthews. 

 Matthews was the greatest footballer of all time. He was never booked or sent off in one of the longest playing careers in professional football.  

Matthews was born in 1915, at Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, the son of a barber and boxer. Matthews was educated at St Luke’s School, Stoke, which he left aged fourteen to begin his outstanding career.  

Matthews started with his local side, Stoke City, and showed early promise. He was picked for England boys and made such an impression on City’s manager, that he was allowed to sign professional forms aged seventeen. His international debut came in 1934, when Matthews played for England, scoring in the four nil win over Wales. In 1937, Matthews scored a hat trick for England against Czechoslovakia. In 1938, when Matthews demanded a transfer from Stoke City, thousands joined a protest mach bearing placards and persuaded him to stay. 

 Matthews had a remarkable individual style. He worked on the right wing, slowly shuffling the ball and when challenged would perform a ‘body swerve’, first one way and then the next, until he had sent the opponent the wrong way and passed him. This particular skill earned him the title of ‘The Wizard of Dribble’.  

Matthews’ career was interrupted by the Second World War, during which he served in the Royal Air Force, stationed at Blackpool. In 1947, he asked to be transferred to Blackpool where he was an immediate success, teaming up with Stan Mortensen and Jackie Mudie to make Blackpool one of the major teams in the Football League. Mathews’ greatest moment was in the 1953 Cup Final, when he took Blackpool to victory from a desperate position, creating three goals in the last twenty minutes of the game. Although it was Mortensen who scored a hat trick, the game was dubbed The Stanley Matthews Final, and became probably the greatest cup final of all time. A recording was released on cine film and was shown to tireless football fans for decades.  

In 1961, at the age of forty-six, Matthews rejoined his hometown club, Stoke City and helped them win the Second Division Championship. Matthews remained with Stoke City until he retired on 1965 aged fifty. In 1965, Matthews became the first footballing knight when he received an accolade for services to sport. Matthews had a series of coaching jobs, first with Port Vale F.C., and then for teams in Malta and South Africa.  

Matthews died, aged eighty-five, in February 2000. His funeral cortege was witnessed by over 100,000 mourners. His ashes are buried beneath the pitch of the Britannia stadium, the home ground of Stoke City F.C.

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