Stan Mortensen

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Stan Mortensen
Stan Mortensen.jpg
Personal information
Full name Stanley Harding Mortensen
Date of birth (1921-05-26)26 May 1921
Place of birth South Shields, County Durham, England, UK
Date of death 22 May 1991(1991-05-22) (aged 69)
Playing position Centre forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1941–1955 Blackpool 317 (197)
1943–1944 Bath City (guest)
1944–1945 Arsenal (guest) 19 (25)
1955–1957 Hull City 42 (18)
1957–1958 Southport 36 (10)
1958–1959 Bath City 45 (27)
1960–1962 Lancaster City
National team
1943 Wales (wartime guest) 1 (0)
1944–1945 England (wartime) 3 (3)
1947–1953 England 25 (23)
Teams managed
1967–1969 Blackpool
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Stanley Harding "Stan" Mortensen (26 May 1921 – 22 May 1991) was an English professional footballer, most famous for his part in the 1953 FA Cup Final (subsequently known as the "Matthews Final"), in which he became the only player ever to score a hat-trick in a Wembley FA Cup Final. He was also both the first player to score for England in a FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign and the first England player to score in the tournament proper.

Wartime career[edit]

South Shields-born Mortensen went to war in 1939 as a wireless operator and overcame an injury – sustained when his RAF bomber crashed, leaving him as the only survivor – to become one of England's best post-war players.

During the war, he scored dozens of goals before making a strange piece of history by switching teams to play for Wales when they needed a reserve during a game against England on 25 September 1943.[1] Wales' Ivor Powell was injured and had to leave the field and, as England's reserve, Mortensen took his place in the Welsh side. Wales lost 8–3, and Stanley Matthews later wrote of the game: "Nobody in the 80,000 crowd had any idea that Mortensen was going to change. When, a quarter of an hour later, the player in the red jersey returned to the field, a cheer went up from the crowd, who — not knowing the seriousness of Powell's injury — were under the impression the injured Welsh wing half was returning. Even when "Powell" went to inside-left, the onlookers did not suspect anything unusual, as team switches are often necessary after a player has been injured. Even some of the England players did not know that Mortensen was playing on the other side, and the football reporters, whose headquarters at Wembley are at the top of the main stand, did not know of the change until after half-time."[2]

Post-war career[edit]

On 25 May 1947, Mortensen made his full England debut against Portugal and immediately announced himself on the scene by scoring four goals in a 10–0 win.[3] The next year, Mortensen played all six England internationals and scored seven goals, including a hat-trick against Sweden. He was also a member of the England team that lost 6–3 to Hungary.

In a playing career spent mostly with Blackpool, Mortensen scored 197 league goals in 317 games. By the end of his career, he had played twenty-five times for England and scored 23 goals.

Between 1945 and 1950, Mortensen scored in twelve consecutive rounds of the FA Cup, including the Final in 1948.

After nine years with Blackpool, Mortensen went on to play for Hull City, Southport, Bath City and, after coming out of retirement, Lancaster City. After retiring for good, he returned to Blackpool as manager between 1967 and 1969, when he was sacked. He also auctioned his football medals in order to help Blackpool through a tough spell.

Mortensen topped the First Division goalscoring charts in 1950–51, with 30 goals. His most famous performance occurred two years later in the 1953 FA Cup Final, when he helped Blackpool to a 4–3 win against Bolton Wanderers, after being 3–1 down, by scoring a hat-trick. Mortensen's third goal came with just a minute left in the game, and Bill Perry's injury-time goal sealed the victory.

After joining Southport, Mortensen announced his retirement from playing on 24 April 1958, at the age of 37. "I have been having trouble with my knee and have had several injections," he said, after deciding against renewing his contract. "Making the decision was not easy."[2] Despite the announcement, he went on to play for two more non-League clubs over four years.

Blackpool F.C. Hall of Fame[edit]

Mortensen was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Bloomfield Road, when it was officially opened by former Blackpool player Jimmy Armfield in April 2006.[4] Organised by the Blackpool Supporters Association, Blackpool fans around the world voted on their all-time heroes. Five players from each decade are inducted; Mortensen is in the 1950s.[5]


Mortensen was Blackpool manager from 1967 to 1969.

On 20 October 1983, at the Blackpool supporters' annual general meeting, Mortensen was voted vice-president.[2]

On 18 November 1989, Mortensen led the Blackpool team out onto the Bloomfield Road pitch for their FA Cup first-round tie with Bolton Wanderers. Former Bolton Wanderers forward Nat Lofthouse, who faced Mortensen and Blackpool in the 1953 FA Cup Final, led the visitors out.

Twelve days later, on 30 November, a tribute dinner for Mortensen was held at Blackpool's Savoy Hotel. Attended by many former Blackpool players, the event was arranged to honour Morty's fifty years of service to both Blackpool Football Club and the town.[2]

Death and legacy[edit]

Statue outside Bloomfield Road

Mortensen died four days before his 70th birthday, on 22 May 1991, the day Blackpool reached Wembley for the first time since 1953. They had beaten Scunthorpe United 3–2 on aggregate to reach the Fourth Division play-off final. A minute's silence was held before the final against Torquay United. Blackpool went on to lose the match to Torquay on penalties.

On his death, it was said, "They'll probably call it the Matthews funeral,"[6] in reference to Mortensen's overshadowing by Stanley Matthews after the 1953 FA Cup Final. His funeral was held at St John's parish church, Blackpool, and he was cremated at Carleton Crematorium in Carleton, Lancashire.

The month of May became associated with much of his life. During May, he was born, signed professionally, made his England debut, won the FA Cup, and died.[7]

Mortensen is mentioned with admiration in the song "1966 and All That" on the 1986 vinyl EP The Trumpton Riots (incorporated into the 2003 CD re-release of the 1985 album Back in the DHSS) by the indie band Half Man Half Biscuit, who call him "The Tangerine Wizard"[Note 1] and "The Jesus Christ of Bloomfield Road".[8][9][10]

In 2003, Mortensen was posthumously inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his talent and achievements.

On 23 August 2005, a statue of Mortensen was unveiled by his widow, Jean, and former Blackpool teammate Jimmy Armfield in front of Bloomfield Road's new North Stand, which now bears his name.[11] "Of all the honours that Stan won in football, he would think this was top of the league. He was so very proud of playing for Blackpool and loved everything about the town. Nothing was ever too much trouble for him when the club or town came knocking. For him to be remembered in a statue, he would think it was the creme de la creme. A massive thank-you has to go to the generous people of Blackpool, who have dug deep to raise money for this. Stan would have been really proud."[2] Jean Mortensen died in July 2009 at the age of 88.[12]

In the 2005 film The Game of Their Lives he is portrayed by Gavin Rossdale of Bush fame. The BBC notes that some viewers may be amused by the fact that "Mortensen – a working class Geordie – [is] portrayed [in the film] as [a] sneering toff", suggesting that the American film stereotyped English players in a "wooden and cliched" manner.[13]




  1. ^ Blackpool F.C. are nicknamed "The Tangerines".


  1. ^ Guest Player for Wales
  2. ^ a b c d e Gillatt, Peter (30 November 2009). Blackpool FC on This Day: History, Facts and Figures from Every Day of the Year. Pitch Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-905411-50-2. 
  3. ^ – Match Statistics
  4. ^ Singleton, Steve, ed. (2007). Legends: The great players of Blackpool FC (1 ed.). Blackpool: Blackpool Gazette. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-84547-182-8. 
  5. ^ "The Hall Of Fame – 1950's". Blackpool Supporters Association. Retrieved 29 November 2009. 
  6. ^ Maume, Chris (12 April 2000). "They don't make 'em like Stan any more". The Independent. Retrieved 9 June 2008. 
  7. ^ – Archive
  8. ^ "1966 And All That". The Half Man Half Biscuit Lyrics Project. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  9. ^ Half Man Half Biscuit: 1966 and All That at AllMusic. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  10. ^ Half Man Half Biscuit – The Trumpton Riots E.P. at Discogs (list of releases)
  11. ^ Legend 'Morty' remembered
  12. ^ "Widow of Seasiders' Cup hero dies at 88". Clitheroe Advertiser and Times. 24 July 2009. 
  13. ^ "World Cup: US v England match recalls 1950 upset", BBC, 2 June 2010

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]