England Caps : 25
Goals : 23
Player : 1947-1953
As names fade into the memory there are still a few players from after the Second World War who linger and Stan Mortensen, of Blackpool and England, is one of those names.
Playing initially as an amateur he signed professional terms for Blackpool just before the outbreak of the war, after being signed as a makeweight in a deal to secure another player from the same side.
The war put paid to much organised football with Mortensen among the many players who were active in the war, in his case as a wireless operator with the RAF. During that time he was involved in two serious incidents, the first a near strangulation in 1941 when a practice parachute jump went wrong, and secondly a bomber crash where Mortensen was the only survivor, suffering extensive back and head injuries and staying on the critical list for some time. This was before the invention of metatarsal and cruciate ligament injuries.
Recovering well, post-war club football saw Mortensen scoring on his debut and quickly becoming a fixture in the Blackpool side as a centre forward with good distribution to the wings as well as goal-scoring ability.
International Debuts – One for Wales, one for England!In a bizarre incident, Mortensen accidentally made his international debut for Wales. In a game in 1943 (although the FA do not list this game as it was an unofficial match) Ivor Powell was injured and the Welsh did not have a substitute available, so Mortensen stepped in. He then played in a further three internationals, this time for England, during the war.
His official debut for England was after the war, against Portugal in 1947, when he scored 4 goals in a 10-0 rout. He is still the only person to have scored four goals on an England debut, and was the first person for 65 years to score four in one international match. There are only eight other post-war English players to have scored four in an international at all, one of them being Tommy Lawton, who did it in the same match as Mortensen.
Post-War Scoring SuccessDuring 1947 and 1948 he established himself as a permanent fixture in the national side, playing in six internationals on the trot. Mortensen scored two hat tricks, one against Sweden in 1947 and another against Ireland in 1948, and he would end up being a prolific scorer for England, with 23 goals from 25 matches throughout his career.
In club football he was a great success, getting Blackpool to the FA Cup Final in 1948, 1951 and finally winning it in 1953.This must have been some disappointment for him as although Mortensen had scored 30 goals in the FA Cup (at that point a record) including a so far unique hat trick in the final, the final is forever known as the “Matthew’s Final”, with Stanley Mathews dribbling mastery hailed as Blackpool overhauled Bolton Wanderers from 1-3 down to win 4-3.
A Drubbing at the EndBack to the international scene, ‘Morty’, as he was universally known, carried on playing and scoring, including netting the first ever World Cup goal for England in Brazil against Chile in 1950, in a 2-0 win.
He was unfortunate in that his last international match in 1953, although he scored once more, was the humbling of England by Ferenc Puskas and his “Mighty Magyars”, the Hungarian national side, who demonstrated how the game had developed abroad. Their fluid movement, balls skills and previously unseen 4-2-4 formation resulted in a 3-6 victory for the Hungarians and is widely marked as a watershed in English football history, the first defeat ever by a team outside the British Isles and a milestone in the evolution of modern football.
The Gentleman PlayerStan Mortensen left Blackpool in 1955 and went on playing off and on until 1962. He was proud of playing in one of the most skilful English forward lines ever, with the likes of Matthews, Lawton, Tom Finney and Wilf Mannion. He was respectful of fellow players and others in the game and they in return spoke well of him.
He died in 1991 on the day that Blackpool were to make their first appearance at Wembley since the Matthews Final, in a play-off for a promotion place to the Third Division.