He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of the 20th century, was the first ever winner of the prestigious Ballon d’Or award and first player to be knighted by The Queen.
Now thanks to a Bo’ness-born film producer, a feature-long documentary detailing his remarkable life is about to be published.
The name of Stanley Matthews remains one of the most evocative in the history of British football. He was the consummate professional, he was teetotal, a vegetarian and was years ahead of his time with his self-discipline and strict training regime.
He is the only player to have played professionally for 35 years and was never booked or sent off during that time.
But what separated Matthews from the rest of his peers was what he did off the park which is shown in a new documentary titled Matthews by director Ryan Scott Warren, executive producers Joe Pierce and Stanley Matthews junior.
Joe (65), who grew up in Deanfield and played for St Mary’s Primary School team, said: “I was fitba’ daft growing up in Bo’ness and Stanley Matthews was the focal point on the limited black and white TV broadcasts.
“I have played all my life and still do and I wore a No.7 – the same as Matthews – on my back for any team I played for.
“My 40-year friendship with his son Stanley Junior and hearing the personal story of this remarkable man was the motivation to start this production.”
Joe, who some may remember as Joseph McAloon Pierce, has lived in the USA for many years where he became firm friends with Stanley Matthews’ son. Stan jnr also has claims to major sporting fame himself as he was the 1962 Wimbledon boy’s champion and was therefore the last male Wimbledon champion before Andy Murray.
Tennis is one of the things that Stan and Joe have in common as both ran rival indoor tennis clubs in Connecticut. It was football though that brought them together as they both played for local American soccer teams.
It is well documented that Matthews had a glittering playing career but he failed to reach the same heights as a manager and a local team heralded the start of his greatest managerial crisis. Matthews was in charge of struggling English side Port Vale and Bo’ness United accused the team of poaching their 17-year-old forward Roddy Georgeson. This was the start of a run of controversial issues that resulted in calls for the club’s expulsion, which Matthews narrowly averted.
Joe said: “This incident was devastating to Sir Stanley. As a new manager he was not aware of or involved in this but took the brunt of blame and publicity. A glitch on a spotless career.”
Now the producer Joe has been instrumental in bringing to the public attention a timely reminder of the stature and greatness of a man whom Pele said: “Taught us the way football should be played.”
The documentary looks at the life of the footballing great. From his humble beginnings from Stoke on Trent, to playing for Stoke City, Blackpool and England, to using his status as the world’s first global superstar to defy the apartheid in South Africa and teach football in the all-black townships of Johannesburg.
Matthews would become a regular visitor to Africa, playing and coaching in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa with his first trip in 1955 at the age of 40.
He would continue to make that commitment for the next 25 years. He died aged 85 in 2000.
In 1975, Sir Stan arranged for a team of young black players from Soweto to tour Brazil and meet Pele, helping to forever change their lives. They would be affectionately known as Stan’s Men.
Joe said: “These footballers were taught that playing the game with dignity can elevate you and make you capable of incredible feats.”
Never before seen archive footage, photographs and interviews come together in this full length feature documentary to tell the incredible true story of one of international sports’ most legendary figures.
Joe said: “The challenge we had was to make a film about a true British treasure that most of the world would not know while respecting those that knew what he took in his tea.
“To be instrumental in helping get this project off the ground was almost a schoolboy dream in itself.”
Matthews is available on iTunes or Amazon and can be bought on DVD from Monday.
Brush with one of the greats
Bo’ness born film producer Joe Pierce grew up playing football with one of the Scottish greats never to be capped for his country.
Joe by his own admission was “fitba daft” and rarely turned down the opportunity to have a kickabout.
He said: “I would tag along with the older boys hoping to get in a game which would happen when they were desperate. Paddy Duffy, Bert Auld and John McGovern were a few of the stars and one of them went a bit further in his career!”
That man was McGovern who twice won the European Cup with Nottingham Forest. He used to play on the streets in Bo’ness when he visited his grandmother during the summer holidays as a youngster.
Joe said: “He was one of the few older players I looked up to. This was when we around ten years old and a two-year difference was a big deal.”