£50 for a piece of footballing history - Sir Stanley's old slippers

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Sir Stanley Matthews wasn't one for a fuss, so quite what he would have thought about the clamour to buy his old slippers in his home town of Stoke-on-Trent yesterday is anyone's guess.

Sir Stanley Matthews wasn't one for a fuss, so quite what he would have thought about the clamour to buy his old slippers in his home town of Stoke-on-Trent yesterday is anyone's guess.

They were snapped up for £50, with his rather unfashionable Hi-tec trainers, several of his worn-out tracksuits and more than 450 other pieces of memorabilia - mostly mementoes which he had kept as a record of others' affection for him after a playing career that saw him win 54 caps for England before and after the Second World War.

In a makeshift salesroom overlooking the Britannia Stadium where his beloved club Stoke City play, the headline item was a pair of lightweight boots made especially to allow Sir Stanley - who died earlier this year aged 85 - to run fast on the wing for Stoke in the 1950s. He always wore out their light material quickly but kept the one pair. There was also the first medal he ever won, a 1929 English Schools Football Association medal he was awarded aged 13.

But Jim Cross, a 42-year-old Blackpool postman, was only interested in Sir Stanley's passports. He paid £500 for two of the three that belonged to Lady Matthews. "They are unique. I prefer the unusual type of objects and you can't get more unusual than this," said Mr Cross, a tireless collector of Blackpool Football Club memorabilia (another of Sir Stanley's old teams).

The local auctioneers Louis Taylor had promised lots that would fetch prices between £10 and £8,000, "something to suit everyone's pocket and ... an opportunity for those many supporters and fans of Sir Stan's day to buy a piece of sporting history". They rather underestimated the clamour.

Bill Clee, a 68-year-old who tells a vivid story about cycling all the way to Sheffield in the rain to see Sir Stanley's Stoke promoted in 1949, rather fancied a gilt medallion commemorating the 40th anniversary of England's famous 6-3 win over Hungary in which Sir Stanley starred. It was listed at £20 but went for £90.

Mementoes marking considerably lesser occasions were also beyond many pockets. The Corgi bus model marking the launch of a local charity coach seven years ago more than doubled its £60 list price.

He may have been football's first knight but Sir Stanley's collecting demonstrated his need for occasional encouragement. He had lovingly framed a Sunday Express article celebrating his 80th birthday in which Tommy Lawton told how Sir Stanley "used to put the ball on my centre parting" when he crossed from the wing.

The sale also showed how the world from the Province of Ontario to the Scottish Football Association needed no excuse to award him something.

But it is the people of Stoke, a club he played for 700 times before retiring at the age of 50 in 1965, who cherish him most. Sam Rossiter-Stead from nearby Newport, Shropshire, had bagged several ties by lunchtime and promised to be back to buy something for his father. "Sir Stan was my dad's main hero," he said. "You can't put a price on any of this."

Comments