Football's Pioneers: Stan Mortensen
Only three players have scored a hat-trick in FA Cup Finals – William Townley (Blackburn Rovers) and James Logan (Notts County) back in the 1890s - and Stan Mortensen for Blackpool against Bolton Wanderers at Wembley in 1953.
It is unfortunate that ‘Morty’s’ outstanding contribution to Blackpool’s famous victory has often been overlooked; media attention focused on his team-mate, Stanley Matthews, then 38, winning the medal that had eluded him for so long. But the match belonged to Mortensen as much as it did to the other famous Stan.
Mortensen, born in South Shields, is forever associated with the ‘Seasiders’, a major power in English football in the early post-war years. Having signed for the club just before the start of the war, Mortensen’s early career was disrupted by the demands of military service – he joined the RAF and was fortunate to survive a crash in a Wellington bomber – but his talents were soon in evidence and much in demand, as he made guest appearances for Aberdeen and Arsenal.
He made his international debut at Wembley in 1943 in unusual circumstances. Called up as a reserve for England, Mortensen found himself donning a red shirt and turning out for Wales when they were reduced to ten men.
On returning to Blackpool, then a significant power in the top tier of English football, Mortensen established himself as a prolific scorer, his 317 appearances for the club bringing him 197 goals before he moved on to Hull City in 1955.
Mortensen became a legendary figure at Blackpool.
Matthews, after joining Blackpool from Stoke City in 1947, might be credited with supplying the bullets that he fired, but Mortensen’s uncanny knack of arriving in the right place at the right time should not be underestimated. From Hull he moved on to Southport before finishing his playing career in non-league football with Bath City and Lancaster City, where he finally, and very reluctantly, hung up his boots in 1962.
Mortensen was capable of rising to the big occasion, scoring four on his England debut, a 10-0 away victory against Portugal in 1947. He scored two further hat-tricks in his international career – against Sweden in 1947 and Northern Ireland in 1948.
His best goal at this level - a brilliant individual effort - came early in the match against Italy in 1948, when he turned a defender near the byline and drove the ball past the advancing 'keeper into the top corner from a narrow angle.
He played 25 times for his country, scoring 23 goals, including one on his final appearance in the match against Ferenc Puskás and the ‘Magnificent Magyars’ at Wembley in 1953 when Hungary beat England 6-3. It marked the end of an era in more ways than one.
‘Morty’ remained closely associated with Blackpool in retirement. He had sports shops in the town and was briefly manager of his old club from 1965 to 1967. A statue in his honour was erected at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road ground in 2005.
For more information about sports history at DMU visit www.dmu.ac.uk/sportshistory.
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