Born in Chorley in 1888, Mather had become Manchester City’s assistant-secretary in 1910, before moving to Bolton Wanderers as manager in the summer 1915. He held this post until 1919, but as he also served in the Royal Navy during these First World War years, his job at Bolton had to be covered by others.
When Southend United became founder members of the new Football League Third Division in 1920/21, they appointed Mather as their new manager. He stayed one season, achieving 17th place in that division.
Two years later, in October 1923, he became manager of Stoke (renamed Stoke City in 1925) who had rejoined the Football League in 1919/20 and who had just been relegated again after one season in the top flight.
Mather’s years at Stoke were turbulent.
His attempts to deal with financial problems in 1924 by not re-signing some players and cutting the pay of others led to some of them returning to the ground and smashing up the offices and changing rooms.
Leicester City 1945/46
Tom Mather is pictured with his Leicester City 1945/46 Leicester City team.
Stoke City were relegated to Division Three in 1926, but they bounced back as Champions the following season. In March 1932 he gave a Football League debut to 17 year-old Stanley Matthews. He led Stoke City back to the old First Division in 1933 and reached FA cup quarter-finals in 1934.
In June 1935 Mather left Stoke City, well established in the top flight, to join Second Division Newcastle United but had little success there and left St James Park on the outbreak of the Second World War.
When Leicester City’s wartime manager Tom Bromilow left Filbert Street in May 1945, the Board quickly appointed Mather as the new manager at Filbert Street. He held this post for only nine months.
During this time he managed Leicester City in the Wartime Football League South as League football did not resume until August 1946. However the FA Cup competition did resume that season, on a two leg basis. In the third round, Leicester City drew 1-1 at Stamford Bridge, before losing 0-2 at Filbert Street.
Mather resigned before the season ended as financial constraints hindered his attempts to rebuild the side for the post-war years.
Nevertheless, he did make one big money signing in September 1945, when he signed war-time England international Frank Soo for £4,500 from Stoke City.
Soo was a skilful midfield player who became the first player of Chinese heritage to play in the Football League when Mather had given him his debut for Stoke City in November 1933.
Unfortunately for Leicester Soo was sold to Luton Town for £3,000 only 10 months and 14 games later. Mather’s departure had unsettled him. Mather’s final spell as a football manager was at Kilmarnock between June 1947 and March 1948. He died nine years later.
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