Stanley Matthews - Football History - 1923-39

In 1923, the FA Cup was moved to Wembley, the former site of the British Empire Exhibition.  Again, the railway access was the reason and over 270,000 people travelled to see the first FA Cup game played there, between West Ham United FC (West Ham FC) and Bolton FC.  In 1936, 22,000 people travelled down from Scotland, courtesy of the London Midland and Scottish Railway, to see the Arsenal FC v Sheffield United FC game.

By 1923, the Football League had expanded dramatically and now boasted three Divisions, including Division 3 North and Division 3 South.  All football leagues contained 22 clubs, totalling 88 clubs.

In 1926, Huddersfield Town FC made history by being the first club to complete a hat-trick of League titles.  This was largely due to the efforts of the manager, Herbert Chapman, who managed Huddersfield in their first two championship seasons in 1923-24 & 24-25, before moving to Arsenal FC, who were next to accomplish the same hat-trick, in 1935.



Fans invade pitch,

1923 League Final

Sadly, Chapman did not see this happen, due to his sudden death on 6th January, 1934, from pneumonia.

The Everton FC star Dixie Dean, shone strongly between 1928 and 1939.  In 1928, he became the most prolific goal scorer in history, with 60 League goals.  This was helped by the new 1920's rules being relaxed, allowing scoring from a corner kick and the offside rule being changed.  Everton also won the League in 1932 & 39 and the FA Cup in 1933.

Another notable club of the 1930's was Sheffield Wednesday FC, who won the League in 1929-30 and the FA Cup in 1935.  During 1930-36, they finished in the top three in all but one season.  In the 1927 Final, Cardiff City FC became the first Welsh team to win the FA Cup, beating Arsenal FC 1-0.



Dixie Dean

In 1930, the inaugural FIFA World Cup was played out during July in Montevideo, Uruguay.  It is the World Championship for men's national association football.  FIFA selected Uruguay as the first host nation because they were firstly celebrating the centenary of their first constitution and the national team had won the 1928 Olympics.

Travel to South America, across the Atlantic Ocean, was long and arduous journey in the 1930's, taking over 3 weeks each way.  So, only four European teams played; France, Belgium, Romania and Yugoslavia.  England, having previously lost for the first time, against Spain, in Madrid, refused to take part.  It was Lucien Laurent of France who is recorded as the first goal scorer in FIFA World Cup history.  The host nation, Uruguay, won the first World Cup, beating Argentina 4-2, in front 93,000 spectators.

On 29th September 1934, Sir Stanley Matthews (1915-2000) played his first international in the England v. Wales match at Ninian Park, scoring one of the goals in the 4-0 win.  On 26th June 1954, he became the oldest (outfield) player to feature in a World Cup final.  Aged 39 years, 145 days, he played for England against Uruguay, losing 2-4.

Known as the "wizard of dribble", Sir Stanley Matthews is a true legend of the game of football and the 'superstar' of the new 'high definition public TV', first broadcast by the BBC in 1936.  He first played for Stoke City in 1932, having been 'talent spotted' as a player for England Schoolboys.  He nearly left Stoke FC in 1938, but 4,000 fans rose up and begged him to stay.

Sir Stanley was by far the fastest player of his time and, playing out on the wing, was able to cross a football onto the boot of his centre forward team mate.  As his nickname suggests, dribbling the ball, he made it seem as though the ball was stuck to his foot.  A truly talented player.



Sir Stanley Matthews

Previous Index Next