Lawton's letter

Links With The Past: Lawton’s 1939 Letter To Leicester City

This season, Club Historian John Hutchinson reveals some more unseen treasures from the Club’s historic collections and archives.

Tommy Lawton, who was one of the greatest players in the 20th century, played for both Leicester City and Brentford during his illustrious career.

In the Club’s archives, we have an extremely valuable letter, which has been on display at the National Football Museum. It was written to Leicester by Lawton 10 days after Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September, 1939.  

The outbreak of war caused the suspension of the Football League and the cancellation of all players’ contracts.  

However, plans were being formulated for regional competitions to replace the Football League fixtures and this prompted Tommy Lawton, one of the greatest centre-forwards of the 20th century, to write to Filbert Street, expressing an interest in playing for City.

Four months earlier, as a 19 year-old, England international Lawton had been Everton’s top scorer with 34 league goals helping the Toffees to become league champions.

In this letter to Filbert Street, Lawton said he was willing to play for Leicester on condition that his uncle from Liverpool could live come with him, and that the wages on offer were acceptable.

Lawton’s connection with City was with the manager Tom Bromilow, who had been his manager at Burnley where he had started his career before his move to Everton.

Lawton’s offer was accepted by Leicester. Between 25 November and 16 December, Lawton played three games and scored five goals for the Club, playing in the Midland Division of the Wartime Regional League. During this four-week spell, he also scored for England in a wartime international against Scotland.

Lawton went on to score over 280 goals in wartime football guesting for various clubs. These included 24 goals in 23 wartime internationals for England.

As well as playing for Leicester, Lawton also played for Second Division side Brentford between March 1952 and September 1953, after he’d had spells at Chelsea and Notts County.

He succeeded the future England manager Ron Greenwood as captain at Griffin Park before becoming Brentford’s player-manager in January 1953. He resigned in September 1953 after a poor start to the season and resumed his playing career at Arsenal.

He subsequently managed Kettering Town and Notts County and was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2003.

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