Stanley Matthews Knighted
The name of Stanley Matthews still has huge weight in the sporting world, and indeed beyond it. His fame came not only from his extraordinary ability as a winger, known for his body-swerve, dribble and lightning pace over 15 or 20 yards; but also from the length of his career – he retired from the English game just after his 50th birthday, making more than 700 league appearances in spite of WWII robbing him of what should have been his finest years.
Matthews was born in Hanley in 1915 and, somewhat strangely given his subsequent 315 games for Stoke City, was in fact a Port Vale supporter – he briefly managed that club in the 1960s. His greatest moment in the game came for Blackpool, however, finally winning the FA Cup with that side in the 4-3 victory over Bolton Wanderers in 1953.
He was still playing for Stoke when knighted in the New Year’s Honours in 1965, made a Knight Bachelor – perhaps tellingly in our less than perfect system the lowest rank of knighthood.
Sir Stanley was a teetotaller, as was John Charles Clegg, an amateur player and later administrator who was the first man knighted for services to football in 1927: he gained one cap for England, playing in the first football international (against Scotland in 1872) though as a Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield FC stalwart (he went on to help found Sheffield United) he was snubbed by public school and varsity team-mates who refused to pass to him! Clegg also refereed the 1882 and 1892 Cup Finals, and became FA Chairman.