Some great players have turned out on Boston United's York Street ground over the years, but none greater than the one that Pelé described as "The man who taught us the way football should be played" and of whom Brian Clough said: "A god to those of us who aspired to play the game". When a Port Vale XI visited Boston for a friendly match in 1967 it wasn't the thought of playing against a good Fourth Division side that brought out the spectators, it was a chance to catch a glimpse of their 52 year old player manager Sir Stanley Matthews.
|One of football's greatest ever players, Stanley Matthews had begun his footballing career in 1932 as a seventeen year old with Stoke City. He played for Stoke until 1947 when he moved to Blackpool, helping them to three FA Cup finals in the next six seasons, eventually winning it in 1953 in one of the most amazing games in FA Cup history. The 4-3 win against Bolton Wanderers, after Blackpool had been 3-1 down, with the winner coming in injury time was truly inspiring. He returned to Stoke in 1961 and had finished his Football League playing career in 1965. Along the way he won 54 caps for England and in 1965 became the first footballer ever to be knighted. In all he completed more than 1800 matches and was never once booked or sent off.||
Sir Stanley Matthews
Even at 52 years old, it was clear what a great player Stanley Matthews had been. He still had wonderful control of the ball and could put on a fair turn of speed over ten yards. Boston United were on the verge of winning their second successive league title under Don Donovan's management when Port Vale visited. They only required one more point from their last two games to ensure they won the West Midlands League title ahead of Kidderminster Harriers. Jimmy Fell proved to be the star of the Boston side in the first half. FELL opened the Boston scoring when he hit home a bouncing ball for a fine goal. He then provided an accurate centre for Bobby BAKER to extend Boston's lead. Before half time arrived Jimmy RAYNER had made the score 3-0 and RAYNER then scored again almost from the start of the second half. Matthews was always eager to be in the game and his passes nearly always found their man. As the second half progressed he began to control play from midfield. Paddy ROCHE eventually scored a fifth goal for Boston, and then near the end it was Matthews who fittingly set up Ian LAWSON to give Port Vale a consolation goal.
Before he left the ground, Sir Stanley found time to present the Social Club's darts trophies to Mrs Pat Bray and Mr Robin Mottram.
Boston went on to win the West Midlands League title after defeating Atherstone Town 4-1 in the last game of the season. Not bad for a side that only used 17 players in total all season! Top goal scorer was Jimmy Rayner with 49 goals from 51 games. Peter Thompson didn't do too badly either - he got 42 goals in 46 appearances. Boston would win the West Midlands League title again the following season before moving on to become founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1968.
Sir Stanley Matthews would continue playing the game he loved until he decided to hang up his boots at the age of 70 after turning out for an England Veteran XI against a team of Brazilian veterans in Rio de Janeiro in 1985.
United team: Ken Oxford, Geoff Barrowcliffe, Geoff Snade, Brian Clifton, Don Donovan, Billy Howells, David Robinson, Jimmy Rayner, Bobby Baker, Paddy Roche, Jimmy Fell.
Port Vale: James O'Neill, Gordon Logan, Roy Sproson, Carter, John James, Stote, Stanley Matthews, Ian Lawson, Keith Broomhall, William McCartney, Malcolm McKenzie.
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