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Thursday, 24 February, 2000, 02:57 GMT
The Matthews Final

Sir Stanley (right) revels in the cup final victory
Sir Stanley (right) revels in the cup final victory

It was one of the most emotional and memorable finishes to a football match in the history of the game.

During a career spanning 36 years Sir Stanley Matthews left fans with innumerable memories of his breathtaking skill.

But his finest hour came when his brilliance helped secure for Blackpool one of the most outstanding Cup Final victories of all time.

At the age of 38, the 1953 final was Matthews' third, and perhaps last, opportunity to earn a winner's medal.

Twice in the past six years, against Manchester United in 1948 and Newcastle in 1951, he had failed.

Mighty combination

Blackpool's opponents that year, Bolton, had a team which boasted internationals such as Holden, Langton and Lofthouse.

Blackpool themselves had the mighty combination of Matthews and Mortensen.

But the start did not auger well for the Seasiders.

With barely a minute gone, they were one down as Farm, in goal, was deceived by Lofthouse's low, dipping cross shot.

Soon, Bolton might have been two up, but instead, an injury to one of their players caused a formation adjustment which Stan Mortensen later said helped cost his opponents the match.

Ten minutes before half-time, Blackpool equalised, when Hassall unluckily deflected Mortensen's shot into his own net.

They were unable to capitalise on their luck and went 2-1 down after another goalkeeping error.

When Bolton went 3-1 up early in the second half, few could have imagined the drama to come.

Stanley Matthews began to turn up the heat and Blackpool were able to pull back a goal after his floated cross was met by the boot of Mortensen.

Blackpool were back in the match and maintained the pressure with Matthews continuing to dazzle the Bolton players with his skill.

With barely a minute remaining, Blackpool drew level, after gaining a free kick a couple of yards outside the penalty area.


Mortensen scored with a sensational shot and the fans believed they had at least won the chance of extra time.

Stanley Matthews however, had other ideas, and with one last burst of energy he collected the ball and using his famed acceleration, swept forward.

As he cut in towards the goal area, it seemed that he would pull the ball back to Mortensen.

Instead, after a glance, he dragged the ball back further still, into the path of the waiting Perry who in one movement drove the ball into the net.

On that special day, even Stan Mortensen's enormous achievement of being one of only a handful of players ever to score a cup final hat-trick was overshadowed - by the tenacity displayed by one of the greatest players the game has ever seen.

The game will always be remembered as "The Matthews Final".

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See also:
24 Feb 00 |  Football
Football world mourns Matthews
24 Feb 00 |  Football
Motson's boyhood memories of Matthews
23 Feb 00 |  Football
The first gentleman of soccer
23 Feb 00 |  Football
Sir Stanley in pictures
23 Feb 00 |  Football
Tributes for 'magical' Sir Stanley

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