The slightly smaller than life-size statue depicts Matthews about to take a kick, the football lying just in front of him. His weight is on his left foot, and his arms are away from his sides.The pose was chosen by Sir Stanley, who wanted to catch the moment when he transfixed his footballing opponent before sprinting away with the ball.
The statue resulted from a chance meeting between the sculptor and Sir Stanley. It began as a portrait head only but, following favourable comment in the Press, the clay head was repositioned on a new metal armature and a full figure developed. Some people complained that he was not depicted in his characteristically baggy shorts, but Stanley Matthews insisted he be shown in the more modern kit he wore when he returned to Stoke City in 1961. He had been reticent about the project when the sculptor first outlined it to him, but later personally unveiled the statue. Colin Melbourne is himself a Stoke City fan, and was taken to see Stanley Matthews play by his father as a child.
Sir Stanley Matthews C.B.E. (b.1915) was born in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. He began his footballing career playing for Stoke City in 1932, winning the first of his 54 full England caps in 1934 against Wales. Like so many players of his generation, his career was put on hold during the Second World War, though he played in 24 wartime and five Victory internationals and also represented the Football League, the Football League XI and the FA XI. His first stay at Stoke ended in 1947, when, aged 32, he moved to Blackpool for £11,500, helping them to win the FA Cup in 1953. He returned to Stoke in 1961, going on to play for a further four years and helping them to gain promotion to the First Division football in 1963. On 6 February 1965, five days after his 50th birthday, he retired from competitive football. He is the oldest player ever to win a full England cap, and was knighted in 1965, having received the CBE nine years earlier. He played for England 54 times, and was twice Footballer of the Year in 1948 and 1963. He was awarded the European Footballer of the Year Award in 1956.
After leaving Stoke he toured the world, coaching in many countries, and in 1967-68 returned to manage Port Vale, before going to live in Malta, where he took charge of Hibernians. He coached in South Africa and also lived in Canada before returning to the Potteries in the late 1980s and in 1989 was appointed president of Stoke City Football Club.
He died in hospital in Stoke-on-Trent on Wednesday, 23 February 2000, aged 85.
On plaques on the front of the pedestal, first plaque: SIR STANLEY MATTHEWS C.B.E./ Born Hanley 1st February 1915./ His name is symbolic of the beauty of the/ game, his fame timeless and international, his/ sportsmanship and modesty universally acclaimed./ A magical player, of the people, for the people./ SCULPTOR COLIN MELBOURNE.
Second plaque: Stoke-on-Trent City Council./ This was unveiled by/ Sir Stanley Matthews C.B.E. to commemorate/ the completion of the Hanley Town Centre/ Pedestrianisation on 21st October 1987/ Cllr. G.J. Tuck J.P./ LORD MAYOR/ Cllr. R. Southern J.P./ LEADER OF THE CITY COUNCIL/ Cllr. J.P. Birkin/ CHAIRMAN HIGHWAYS COMMITTEE/ C.F. Everitt B.Sc., C.Eng., M.I.C.E., M.I.H.T., M.Inst.W.M.,/ CITY ENGINEER/ Main Contractor. C.J. Pearce & Co. Ltd.
PMSA recording information