Life in Elmbridge
Sir Stanley Matthews association with the Elmbridge area dates back to the 1980s when he was, for a short period, the President of Walton and Hersham Football Club. He was invited to join in 1984 by his old friend, then chairman, Alfred Galustian (current FA technical consultant). However, due to the large distance between the football club and Matthews' home in Stoke-on-Trent, he was unable to see most games. During his stint as President the club's fortunes varied. The club finished twelfth out of twenty-two clubs in the Isthmian League Division One, winning sixteen, drawing eight and losing eighteen, whilst scoring sixty and conceding sixty nine. They finished on fifty- five points after getting one point deducted. In the FA Cup they lost 1-0 in the first qualifying round to Gravesend and Northfleet, after beating Eastbourne United 1-0 in the preliminary, while in the FA Trophy the club lost in the first qualifying round to Metropolitan Police.
Life beyond Elmbridge
The son of a barber, Matthews was nicknamed the 'Wizard of the Dribble' for his outstanding skills on the pitch. He had the longest football league career of any player, playing for thirty- three years. Matthews turned professional in 1932 at the age of seventeen for local club Stoke City. He made his full England debut just two years later in a 4-0 away win over Wales. Overall, Sir Stanley Matthews was capped fifty-four times by England, with his last game at the age of forty- two. However, the club he is most associated with is Blackpool United, signing for them in 1946. In 1948, Matthews became the first player to win the prestigious Ballon D'Or award, a prize that has since been won by such modern greats as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Matthews' most memorable moment came in the 1953 FA Cup final against Bolton Wanderers. With a last minute comeback, Blackpool won thanks to a hat-trick from Matthews' teammate Stan Mortensen. However, despite this the final was known as the Stanley Matthews Final due to his amazing performance on the wing. After the event, there was a joke that said that in the future Mortensen's funeral would be known as The Stanley Matthews Funeral. Shortly before his retirement in 1965 at the age of fifty, Matthews became the first footballer ever to be knighted and is the only footballer to have been knighted whilst still playing the game. His farewell match featured legends of the game such as Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenç Puskas and Lev Yashin. Matthews was known to be a gentleman both on and off the pitch, as proven by the fact he was never booked or sent off in his long career. Demonstrating what a great player he was, Brazilian legend Pele described him as 'The man who taught us the way football should be played'.