Wednesday would have been Sir Stanley Matthews’ 102nd birthday. To mark the occasion, local author Tony Flood recalls how the Blackpool legend was hauled before the FA to explain why he made an expenses claim for six pence.
That’s the amount the wing wizard paid for a cup of tea and a scone on his way to Hampden Park to play for England against Scotland.
Matthews was not given the respect he deserved from some of his ‘masters’ at the FA, according to Flood in his celebrity book, My Life with the Stars.
Tony says: “I interviewed Sir Stanley and I remember him saying that when he travelled to Scotland in 1948 he changed trains at Carlisle, where he spent sixpence in the station buffet.
“He submitted an expense claim for this to the FA and had it rejected by some petty accounts person!
“Here was England’s top star, who helped to attract a massive crowd of around 130,000 to Hampden Park, being scolded over charging expenses of less than £1 in present day values for a cup of tea and a scone.”
Flood, whose book also features Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali, George Best and a host of other stars, adds: “Can you imagine what would happen if the FA did that to one of today’s overpaid stars? Matthews’ match fee for helping England beat the Scots was a meagre £14 and he had to travel from Stoke to Glasgow on a second-class rail ticket.”
Flood describes Matthews and another former England star Tom Finney as “two of the most charming male personalities I’ve interviewed.”
And that is some compliment from the former Fleet Street journalist who worked with World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore and played in charity matches with both Moore and George Best.
Flood also played in a charity match in Blackpool with Stan Mortensen and other members of Blackpool’s 1953 FA Cup winning team.
He adds: “Stan didn’t like to criticise others and would avoid talking about controversial issues.
“Instead of moaning about the way he was treated or the fact he missed out on the massive earnings that players received in later years, he confined himself to saying: “It was an honour to play at the highest level and to be appreciated by the fans and my fellow professionals.
“I was proud to stay in the game so long and never be cautioned throughout my career.”
The book provides a lot more information about Blackpool and Stoke icon Matthews, including the fact that he never earned more than the then maximum wage of £20 a week before he played his final game, aged 50, for Stoke on February 6, 1965.
Tony is making donations to Children with Cancer UK from the sales of My Life with the Stars.
Signed copies can be obtained by sending a cheque, payable to ‘Sportsworld Communications’ for £5.99, including postage, to ‘Special Book Offer’, 24 Brisbane Quay, Eastbourne BN23 5PD.
Tony Flood is also making donations to Children with Cancer UK from the sales of his other books, including spicy crime thriller Triple Tease, endorsed by best selling author Peter James, and fantasy adventure The Secret Potion, recommended for Harry Potter fans by actress June Whitfield. Details of special offers on these books are available at www.celebritiesconfessions.com and www.fantasyadventurebooks.com