Friday, October 18, 2013

18 October 1961 - Stanley Matthews Comes Home

On 18 October 1961, former Stoke hero Stanley Matthews returned to the club after a fourteen-year absence and finished his career there.

Matthews, who had been born in Stoke in 1915, originally joined the club's youth academy in 1930, then cracked the first team in 1932. He remained there for fifteen years (but only ten seasons, as World War II brought a halt to league play from 1939 to 1945). In that time, he helped lead the club out of the Second Division and made them top flight title challengers; they finished fourth in 1936 and again in 1947.

But in May 1947, dissatisfaction with the club prompted then then 32-year old Matthews to move to to Blackpool. There, he won his only major honor, the 1953 FA Cup Final, and came close to a few others, reaching the cup final in 1948 and 1951, as well as finishing as league runners-up in 1956.

After fourteen seasons with the club, Matthews saw his playing time decrease and negotiated a move back to Stoke for a fee of £3,500. The club had slipped back into Division Two in the meantime, but Matthews again helped them earn promotion, reaching the top flight for the 1963-64 season. He retired in 1965 having made a total of 358 appearances for Stoke out of his career total of 783.

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