This BST column is mostly in the words of ‘W’ and recounts the personal impact of two Blackpool heroes, the Stanleys Matthews and Mortensen.
“I was born at the latter end of 1947 and so only saw a limited number of games played by the best duo ever to grace a football field, but looking at them through a child’s eyes I can still remember them both and was to cross paths with them later in their lives.
“Sir Stanley Matthews remains the only footballer to have been knighted whilst still playing the game. His skills were both magnificent and mind-boggling, mesmerising opposition players who often resorted to bone-crunching tackles to try to stop him.
“Sir Stan just ghosted past them and then provided the perfect cross or pass to a fellow forward, often Morty, to slot into the goal.
“There was always a distinct feeling of excitement and anticipation in the crowd when Sir Stan was in full flow. Matthews’ runs were mesmerising, his opponents spellbound.
“I had the privilege of cooking for him when I was a young Commis Chef in St Annes. One day Stan, a strict vegetarian, asked to meet the chef who had cooked his omelettes. I was paraded in front of him, humbled and excited. I have never forgotten his words: ‘Thank you for providing perfection each time I dine.’ Well, Stanley, I’d like to thank you for providing perfection each time you played.
“Mortensen scored 197 goals in 317 games for Blackpool, including the only hat-trick in an FA Cup Final. That 1953 Wembley triumph should have been called the Morty Final not the Matthews Final!
“My memory of Morty is that he wasn’t a particularly big centre forward. He was quick and tricky, lethal with both his feet and his head, and you knew that if the ball came to him in front of goal he would score.
“My Dad always used to say if you want to head a ball properly just watch how Mortensen does it. He wasn’t a mean player and would pass if he felt a colleague had a better chance of scoring. That said, his record shows who the real goalscorer in the team was.
“Morty became manager at Blackpool (1967-69) and was hugely popular. His sacking was not well received and many still believe this was the beginning of Blackpool’s slide from grace from the late 1960s.
“I was fortunate enough to see Morty regularly in the cocktail bar at the Blackpool hotel where I was assistant manager and he stole the show every time he entered the room. FA Cups made from the silver paper in fag packets adorned the ceiling each time he left. He was a charming, unassuming man, with a lovely wife, and he brought a great deal of pleasure to my life.
“Morty is still loved by generations of Blackpool fans. His statue graces the northern approach to Bloomfield Road and it was a disgraceful act on behalf of the owners to remove it. The two Stanleys, giants of the game, encapsulate my earliest memories of football, a game I have loved ever since I was a twinkle in my Dad’s eye. I look forward to the day I can again see my heroes at home and not just away.”
Talking of heroes, on November 11 there will be Remembrance Day observances at football grounds around the country. Blackpool play at home to Portsmouth.
Supporters’ trusts represent fans in the community and it is very sad that the majority of Blackpool fans are unable to be part of the official Blackpool FC observance.
Therefore Blackpool Supporters’ Trust is organising a poppy wreath and two minutes’ silence on behalf of all the football fans who will not be inside the stadium.
Everyone is welcome to stand with the BST committee, members of the Trust and visiting supporters from Pompey at our usual spot opposite the main entrance at the West stand, when two military veterans and our BST youth representative will lay a wreath in memory of all those who have given their lives in defence of our country. This will be followed by two minutes, silence.