Playing in the same team as Stanley Matthews

Duration: 2:44 minutes
Accession No: TWCMS : 2009.455
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Tom tells us about playing in the same football team as Stanley Matthews.

By Tom Kelly

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Playing in the same football team as Stanley Matthews, Blackpool and England international star, 1956.

Whilst serving with the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry in Kenya, east Africa, as part of my national service I was privileged to be chosen to play in the same Kenya FA eleven as the England star Stanley Matthews who was giving exhibitions in Kenya and now representing the Kenya FA eleven at the African stadium, Nairobi.

Waiting in the changing room, ready to go onto the pitch, a young Asian reporter came up to Matthews and asked to see his football boots. Stan was sitting next to me and was wearing a well worn creamy white raincoat that went right down to the ground covering his  boots. ‘Certainly’ said Matthews, as he showed an old scruffy pair of boots that almost matched his raincoat for condition, but not quite. The look of shock on that young lad’s face as he said ‘thank you’ and walked away. Matthews turned to me and just smiled and I smiled back. We both knew what they expected to see – a new pair of football boots. But Stan was wearing a very well worn pair of boots, perfect on the hard ground of Africa.

Shortly after that we were led out and lined up to be introduced to the governor of Kenya and members of the Kenyan FA committee. Matthews was playing in his usually position, on the right wing, and I was on the left wing. So far into the first half I was caught on my shin by a clumsy tackle and I went down in pain. Our African opponents were all bare footed and it must have been his big toe that caught me. Soon I was up, shook hands and noticed the big smile and big white teeth as the African walked after apologising. At half time we all stayed on the pitch and were surprised by the appearance of an old witch doctor who walked and danced around the ground. Dressed in old clothing he had a few small skulls and other pieces of what I suppose were articles for his rituals. He performed all round the ground and finally disappeared. The second half started, 1 each and I accidentally stood on the foot of a defender. He just stood looking at me, another big smile on his face as much as to say ‘that’s evens’.

The game ended in a 2-1 win for us with me scoring our winning goal. A celebration event had been organised on honour of Stanley Matthews on the night in the posh Nairobi railway and country club for us to be personally introduced to the great man.  

What an amazing experience. Posted on 15/09/2010 at 04:19:58

Fantastic.Posted on 10/11/2012 at 17:34:54

I also played in that match and was at right back behind the great man my name is Brindley Powell i remember the sundowner at the Railway Club very well he also visited us at Muthaiga camp when we were training he was a lovely man Posted on 10/11/2012 at 17:38:39

Furher to my notes above Clive Catley from Hereford played Right Half also Bob Picken from Donnington played Centre Foreward Stan played afurther two matches in the Stadium and i was lucky enough to play in them the one was for us The Combined Services side we played an Asian Eleven and lost in the final match we played for the Stanley Mathews Trophy we represented The European Soccer League Stan played against us ouride included six from the Ksli we won 1 0 in near darkness at full back i didnt see the goal the six that played from our regiment was myself John Knight Bob Picken Alan Welch Charlie Monaghan and Harry Phillips Happy DaysPosted on 10/11/2012 at 18:12:26

i was at the niarobi country club with the lads from 77co rasc had our photo taken with him by the local paper brian jones hull Posted on 26/07/2013 at 23:11:29

As an 8 year old I sat in the stands and watched this match with my godfather Ted O'Connor who was a lifelong Everton fan. This was my first introduction to football. John BarrettPosted on 26/05/2017 at 13:16:05

hi, my granddad was john knight and I believe played in this game, we still have the cup/medals/ programme . please please please can someone get in touch with me so I can find out more information? email address. jayknight1990@gmail.comPosted on 01/09/2017 at 13:02:59

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