National Recording Project


Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Stanley Matthews Sculpture


Type Sculpture , Statue

     These three larger than life statues of Stanley Matthews at different stages of his career are highly visible from the A50 as you approach the stadium. On the right, he appears as a sixteen year old making his professional debut in the baggy shorts of the 1930s. In both of the other two statues, he appears in his No.7 shirt, but the one in the centre shows a younger man in longer shorts at the height of his career while the statue on the left shows him at the age of fifty, after his comeback to Stoke in the 1960s. By including three figures, the piece catches the longevity of his footballing as well as conveying a greater sense of movement than a single figure ever could.
     All three sculptors were great fans of Sir Stanley Matthews, and warmed to Kevin Keegan's suggestion that there should be memorials to him at Wembley, Blackpool and Stoke. The three of them set up Artcycle specifically in order to carry out this commission. They were concerned that the piece in Stoke should help to launch a charitable foundation in his memory that would enable disadvantaged youngsters to take part in football and other sports. A limited edition of 250 copies of their detailed scale model for the sculpture was cast in bronze to raise money for the Sir Stanley Matthews Foundation, set up at Stoke City Football's invitation and including Sir Stan's son and daughter in law. Many local firms also contributed. For example, Royal Doulton made their Sir Stanley Matthews Character Jug in his Stoke City red and white shirt. An incredible £32,200 was raised for the foundation in the sale at Louis Taylor Auctioneers, Hanley, on 11 June 2001. Only two other copies were made - one for the Royal Doulton's own museum collection, and one for Stoke City Football Club. These efforts paid for the sculpture more than twice over, and the surplus was used to support the aims of the foundation. All of the work for the sculpture was done in public view in the foyer of the Britannia Stadium, where they exhibited a model in wax and invited members of the public to comment on it. One person brought vintage boots from the era so that they could copy the details right down to the individual eyelets; others who had played alongside him, including Gordon Banks, would make suggestions about the pose. In encouraging public comment, the sculptors hoped to promote wider participation in the arts. Many were encouraged to try their hand at modelling when invited to add clay to the models on view. The clay used for modelling Sir Stan was dug up less than four miles from the Britannia Stadium where the sculpture stands. The steel structure for supporting both the original clay models and the finished work came from new local businesses in the area.
     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.


(front of plinth) SIR STANLEY MATTHEWS CBE/1915-2000. (on plaque on left end) SIR STANLEY MATTHEWS/FOUNDATION/Statue unveiled on/27th October 2001/by/Jean gough - Patron/Kevin Keegan/ex England International and Manager/Terry Conroy - ex Stoke City/Eric Skeels - ex Stoke City/Three local children (on plaque on right end) Presented by/The Sir Stanley Matthews Foundation/27th October 2001/With grateful thanks to/Lawton Motor Building Co. Ltd./Spode/ Royal Doulton Ltd/Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Limited/The Professional Footballers' Association/The Football Association/Stokey City F.C./Sculptors/ Julian Jeffrey Carl Payne/Andrew Edwards

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Jeffrey, Julian Sculptor
Payne, Carl Sculptor
Edwards, Andrew Sculptor

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Plinth Stone 2m high x 6m long x 1.75m deep
Figures Bronze 2.75m high

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
STskSKxx022 BM
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • No damage
Structural condition
  • None
  • None
Road Stanley Matthews Way
Precise location Boothen (northern) end of the Britannia Stadium
A-Z ref 72 2B
OS ref None

Sorry, we have no precise geographical information for this item.

Date of design 2001
Year of unveiling 2001
Unveiling details 2001
Commissioned by Stanley Matthews Foundation
Duty of care Stoke City Football Club
Listing status Not listed
At risk? No known risk

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