Monday, May 2, 2011

2 May 1953 - They Could Have Just Called It The Stanley Final

On 2 May 1953, Blackpool rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat Bolton 4-3 in the FA Cup Final. Although Blackpool forward Stan Mortensen scored a hat-trick, the match is nicknamed "the Matthews Final" after his teammate, winger Stanley Matthews, who inspired the comeback.

The two teams had split their meetings in the league that season, with both teams winning at home to set up the decider in the Final. It was Blackpool's third trip to the Final after losing their first two, while Bolton had already won it three times.

Playing before a crowd of 100,000 at Wembley, Bolton's Nat Lofthouse put his team ahead in only the second minute with a speculative shot from outside the box that bounced through the arms of keeper George Farm. Mortensen equalized in the 35th minute, but goals from Bobby Langton (40') and Eric Bell (55') made it look like Bolton's cup to lose.

But thirteen minutes later, the 38-year old Matthews blew through the Bolton back line and cross the ball in for a Mortensen header. In the 89th minute, Mortensen equalized with a free kick to complete his hat-trick. Blackpool controlled the ball for the remaining time, with Matthews befuddling the defense with clever dribbling and speed (though it certainly helped that two Bolton players were playing injured for the last 20 minutes). In the second minute of stoppage time, he provided another cross in from the right that was headed in by left winger Bill Perry for the win.

It was Blackpool's first major silverware and the only major club trophy won by Matthews in over 30 years of playing.

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