Rangers During WW2: Sir Stanley Matthews

By Adam Robertson
 March 9, 2020

As part of this new series we look at Rangers during WW2 and share the stories that some supporters may not have been aware of.

Our first article is on the legendary English winger Sir Stanley Matthews. Matthews is regarded by many as one of the greatest British players to ever play the game. Born in 1915, Matthews went on to play a total of 783 club appearances for Stoke City and Blackpool and managed to hang up his boots at the ripe age of 50.

Matthews had an incredible 35 year professional career, winning the English FA Cup in 1953, the final that was later dubbed as the 'Matthews Final' when Blackpool beat Bolton Wanderers 4-3. He also went on to play 54 times for England winning 9 British Home Championships.

Matthews also played against Rangers in October 1937, when the club were invited to a match to raise funds for the dependants of the victims of the Holditch Colliery disaster. Matthews later spoke about the match saying “to get Rangers down here was a big feat”.

Stoke City chairman Sir Francis Joseph gifted Rangers their own Loving Cup (one of only 30 made) and asked that at the first home game of each calendar year, the club toast the reigning monarch.

World War 2 would put a stop to Matthews professional career, where he joined the Royal Air Force at the age of 24 and rose to the rank of corporal. Matthews would be based just outside Blackpool during the war and was given permission to play friendly matches with the government imposing a fifty mile travelling limit. He would go on to appear for teams such as Stoke, Blackpool, Arsenal and Manchester United during this time.

Matthews also found himself in Scotland during WW2 where he would appear for Glasgow Rangers Football Club, not once but twice.

With many professional footballers in Scotland signed up to fight in the war, Scottish football was suspended and clubs would look to field guest players in the regional league competitions that were set up.

Rangers vs Morton: 30th March 1940

Sir Stanley Matthews on the ball at Ibrox Park.

Matthews first guested for Rangers on 30th March 1940 in a game against Morton at Ibrox.

Rangers went on to win the game 1-0. When asked about his appearance for Rangers, Matthews said “I have enjoyed my visit immensely, but I did not feel I was playing as well as I should have liked”.

‘I enjoyed it’ Matthews in the papers after appearance against Morton.

Rangers vs Partick Thistle: Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup Final 1941

Hampden Park, the venue for the 1941 Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup Final.

Matthews also appeared in the Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup (known as the Glasgow Charity Cup) against Partick Thistle on 31st May 1941.

The game was played at Hampden Park with Rangers running out 3-0 winners. Not much is known about this match, but we do know that Matthews played and received a winners medal. I guess we had our own 'Matthews Final' at Rangers then?

A little bit about the Glasgow Merchants Charity Cup by Forrest H.C. Robertson.

In the next article of 'Rangers during WW2' we will be looking at the honours won by the club during the war.

Written by Adam Robertson

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