When Blackpool legend Sir Stanley Matthews got the better of his Preston adversary Sir Tom Finney

Ahead of Saturday’s derby, the first at Bloomfield Road in 12 years, we take a look back at a memorable festive double header in 1958, when Stanley Matthews outshone his Preston adversary...

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 1:00 pm

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Blackpool 4-2 Preston North End

December 25, 1958

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You can have too much of a good thing - but try telling that to Blackpool fans in the winter of 1958.

It doesn’t get any better than two wins over the old enemy, Preston North End, in two days and on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Two wins like that ensured that it was anything but a (Lily) White Christmas!

It was indeed a double-whammy as Blackpool beat North End 4-2 at Bloomfield Road on December 25 and the following day hit three without reply at Deepdale.

Sir Tom Finney and Sir Stanley Matthews in later life

It seems a novelty to have matches on Christmas Day, let alone games on successive days.

And to think managers complain about football overload at Christmas and New Year with two many matches crammed in.

At the time it was a milestone for Blackpool, their first Christmas double in 22 years. The previous occasion was in 1936 when the Seasiders, on their way to promotion, won their match in the old Second Division match at Fulham 3-0 on December 25 and the following day they trounced Leicester City 6-3 on the 26th.

It was a busy festive time and there was no respite for sportsmen.

On Boxing Day, Blackpool Borough Rugby League team travelled up to Craven Park to take on Barrow, losing 13-9 in a hard-fought encounter in front of 7,000 fans.

There was a different kind of fight at Blackpool Tower Circus, and famous Blackpool grappler Jack Pye had little time to celebrate Christmas. He got his leotard out twice to wrestle.

Pye was given a good test by Reg Williams, of Birmingham, but won by two falls to one.

Jim Nicholson, later to earn national fame as a crime reporter rejoicing in the name The Prince Of Darkness, was on the sports beat at Bloomfield Road, watching the Seasiders’ reserve team get the better of North End by 4-3.

Peter Doherty, one of the greatest players Northern Ireland has ever produced, wrote a regular column in The Gazette at the time and his chosen subject was to praise the merits of the new inaugurated FA Youth Cup.

In sunnier climes the England cricket team were involved in a tussle with South Australia.

In Blackpool’s Christmas Day win, Bill Perry scored a hat-trick, but it was Stanley Matthews who earned the plaudits of Don Creedy, who covered the match for The Gazette.

Creedy wrote: “What a treat Matthews gave the crowd with a sparkling display that bewitched full-back (Joe) Walton and any other Preston defender who tried to intervene.”

He added: “(Peter) Hauser (Jimmy) Armfield and (Jackie) Mudie supplied Matthews with a seemingly endless stream of passes, and with (Tom) Finney having an off-day all eyes were riveted on Matthews as he tore Preston’s defence to shreds.

“Magical Matthews showed anything but the spirit of goodwill towards North End’s defence, ripping through it with ease to lay on a succession of scoring chances.”

Clearly not a journalist for under-playing things, Creedy continued: “This was not a one-man success.

“Jimmy Kelly has an astonishingly triumphant game at inside-left, providing an effective link between the forwards and the half-backs.

“Three-goal Parry showed the shooting form that could regain him international honours.”

Creedy added: “(Ray) Charnley held the line together like a veteran and Mudie has never served Matthews better.

“The defence refused to be shaken after conceding two goals in four minutes (both of them by North End’s Tommy Thompson).”

On the day Matthews out-shone the man to whom he was so often compared, namely Tom Finney.

Creedy wrote that Finney was ‘only a shadow of his brilliant self.”

Preston’s most famous player eventually had to leave the field injured.

For Blackpool, Creedy wrote that Hugh Kelly was in ‘dominant’ form.

Hugh Kelly is widely regarded as being one of the Seasiders’ finest servants of all time and had a spell skippering the side.

He was so eager to play for Blackpool that in his early days at Bloomfield Road he used to commute from his native Scotland for every match - can you imagine that happening these days?

He made a total of 471 appearances, re-paying the small fee paid to secure his services from Jeanfield Swifts a thousand-fold or more.

With his namesake Jim Kelly, they were reckoned to be one of the finest wing-half partnerships in British football.

Hugh Kelly played for Blackpool in the 4-2 defeat at the hands of Manchester United in the 1948 FA Cup Final.

He was absent from the triumph over Bolton five years later, having been sidelined by an ankle injury at the time - the Blackpool board asked the FA for a special medal to be cast for him and that was quite rightly obtained, though it must never quite have made up for missing the big day.

Hugh Kelly won his one and only Scotland cap in the 6-0 win over the United States in 1952 and when his Blackpool career came to a close he moved to Ashton United, of the old Lancashire Combination, taking on the role of player-manager.

Matthews was missing from the Blackpool line-up the following day, as was Finney.

Again it was a story of Blackpool dominance as they prevailed with two goals by Ray Charnley and one for Jimmy Kelly.

Mudie took over the right-wing lot normally the preserve of Matthews and the Scot performed at the top of his game.

Jimmy Kelly ‘worked like a slave’ according to Creedy.

He also wrote: “Charnley, cheated of a Christmas Day goal, made up for it with two fine opportunist goals.

“(Roy) Gratrix had matters firmly under control in midfield and there were no better defenders on view than Armfield and (Jackie) Wright)”

The first match at Bloomfield Road attracted a holiday crowd of 24,411, with 36,450 at Deepdale to see Blackpool football history.

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