Sir Stanley Matthews



Brian Clough has paid a special tribute to the magic of the 'Wizard of Dribble', the late Sir Stanley Matthews. The Master Manager was the guest of honour at a Legends Dinner organised in memory of the England hero.

"Sir Stanley was not only a footballer, he was a magician," Clough told an audience at Stoke City's Britannia Stadium (May 19th, 2001).

"When it comes to great footballers, his photo is the one I show to my grandchildren. He was fantastic."

The event was organised by the Sir Stanley Matthews Foundation, which was set-up in memory of the former Stoke and Blackpool star who won 54 caps for England. Sir Stanley was born in Hanley, Stoke-on Trent, in 1915. He died in February, 2000.

The foundation aims to erect a statue of him at the Britannia Stadium and to raise money to help keen footballing youngsters to play the game.

As part of the dinner, the foundation's chairman, Nigel Johnson, began a question and answer session with Old Big 'Ead. But it soon became an enthralling speech, as Clough took the microphone.

"Your hand's shaking, I'll help you out, young man," said the Master Manager as he took the microphone from the interviewer's grasp. The audience of 150 applauded and listened intently to his every word as the Great Man held court.

Among the subjects he covered was his interview for the England manager's job. There was spontaneous applause when he said the Football Association had made their biggest mistake when they failed to appoint him.

"There were ten of them on the interview panel," he said. "And four of them had been dead for a year. What's more, the other six hadn't twigged."

He also gave his opinion on the appointment of a Swedish coach as England supremo.

"I can't understand the Swedes. No wonder they have the highest rate of suicides in the world. It's so grey and cold there. They all live in wooden cabins. If someone dropped a cigarette the whole country would go up."

He ended the speech with the words: "That's all for now. Go to bed."

It was classic Clough.

Old Big 'Ead was then presented with a Sir Stanley Matthews Toby Jug by Roger Bairstow of Manor Pottery in Stoke. Clough appeared genuinely touched by the gift, which took him by surprise.

It was a hard act to follow for the guest speaker for the evening, Derek Dougan. The former Wolves and Northern Ireland star said that of all the managers he had worked for, he would have liked to have played for Clough.

"And if you had ever got your head to the ball, you wouldn't have so much hair," said the Master Manager.

During the evening, Clough signed autographs for those who wanted to meet the Great Man. At one point, a queue formed at his table as he took time to speak to them and sign their pictures and menu's. He was overheard telling one fan that he had started writing another book.

After helping to draw some of the winning raffle tickets, the Master Manager left. But it took him twenty minutes to leave the room as fans wanted to stop him and talk. He had time for them all.    

There are exclusive photos from the event HERE.