The Wizard of the Dribble
A Sir Stanley Matthews fan shares their precious memories
I cannot remember Sir Stan's last game at the Victoria Ground but I was told in later years that my father carried me as a six year old on his shoulders to see him as because he was already 32 years of age I might not get on other chance to see him perform.
My first recollection of seeing him was on a tiny black and white television set in the 1953-4 Cup Final against Bolton Wanderers. Blackpool won 4-3, Stan had a "blinder “and to this day the game is known as "The Matthews Final". By then of course Stoke had been relegated, and despite a few optimistic seasons when we thought we might win promotion spread over the 1950s it never happened.
Every now and then a rumour would fly around the Potteries that Stan was coming home. But it never happened until those in eventful days in October 1961.
On the 14th October 1961 we played Preston North End in a routine Division2 game.
Stoke were going nowhere, the gate was a pathetic 8409 and the fans like me were really down in the dumps...
And then the news broke!! Stan’s coming home. And he did, and in front of 35974 yes -THIRTYFIVETHOUSANDNINEHUNDREDANDSEVENTYFOUR fans played his first match against Huddersfield Town on 28th October 1961.
We won, and the mere presence of Stan, who didn't do a lot that day, put the fear of God into the opposition.
At 46 years of age the "Wizard of the Dribble” had cast his spell and 35974 fans were in raptures. The Press were agog at this fairy tale home coming and so was the whole area. The then new Boothen Stand had just about been completed from memory and for his homecoming match I was able to jump onto the windowsill of a room right behind me in the Boothen Paddock. This I think was one of the new unfinished dressing rooms.
Across the other side on the Butler St Side was a huge banner. It said quite simply, "THANKS A MILLION STAN"
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