A MUSEUM claims to have traced the owner of a mystery pair of football boots as Blackpool FC legend Sir Stanley Matthews.
The boots had been at Hitchin Museum since the 1980s when it inherited items from the town’s former football museum.
But in preparation for a move to the new £4.2m North Hertfordshire Museum staff trawled through old papers and photographs to verify the owner.
While sorting through the football collection, paperwork and images were found which confirmed the pair of well-worn brown leather boots, size seven, belonged to the Blackpool, Stoke and England winger noted for his dribbling ability.
The boots had been collected by former Hitchin Town Football Club museum curator Vic Wayling when he toured the clubs of the country in the 1950s hunting for memorabilia.
Now David Hodges, from the North Hertfordshire museum, says: “Everything matched up perfectly.
“We were looking through boxes of paper archives which talked of them and we wondered if they were the same ones. Then we unearthed some photographs and they were exactly the same.”
The collection also includes a 1889 Stoke City silk football cap – the oldest in the world, one of the first football annuals from 1897, a tankard from Crystal Palace Football Club dating back to 1873 and the neckbrace worn by Bert Trautmann, who played for Manchester City and famously broke his neck during the 1956 FA Cup Final against Birmingham.
Blackpool FC historian Gerry Wolstenholme said that judging from their appearance these boots were from the early days when Sir Stan played for Blackpool.
He said: “He was the first player to use the continental style lighter boots so these heavier ones with the toe-cap and high ankle are from before that.
“I am pretty sure he wore the continental style boots in the 1953 cup final.
“He was so proud of his special boots.
“He always carried a pair in the boot of his car to show people.
“They were specially made for him by the Co-op.”
He added if they were indeed boots Sir Stan wore when he mesmerised opposing defenders, the museum had itself a top quality exhibit.
North Hertfordshire Coun Tricia Cowley added: “This is an extremely exciting rediscovery and is a measure of the quality of the Football Collection at Hitchin Museum.”