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The Way It Was - My Autobiography Hardcover – 4 Mar 2000
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"I have no regrets about anything I have done in my career or my life. I would have liked my mother and father to be around now to hear all the wonderful and complimentary things people so often say about me because my father would be very proud and my mother would believe them."
It is both sad and fitting that Sir Stanley Matthew's touching biography ended on such a personal note with him thinking, as he so often did, about other people rather than himself. But for once, all attention is on him in his timely autobiography, The Way it Was. It's a classic from rags to riches tale that takes him from the streets of Hanley in Stoke on Trent to the dizzy heights of football stardom, but the road was never an easy one and never once does Sir Stanley let us, or himself forget that. What comes across so well in this engaging and beautifully written biography, completed with the help of his close friend Les Scott, is how down to earth he really was; he was very conscious that the rewards in life only come with hard work and determination. It is the close bond he shared with his parents, especially that of his father, that comes across so memorably: "Never expect. Never take anything for granted. That way you'll never be too disappointed or hurt," his father tells him. It is advice that Stanley followed the rest of his life. Sir Stanley's untimely death means the inclusion of a tribute section penned by Les and dozens of emotional tributes from friends, colleagues, fellow players and fans that speak volumes about how highly regarded he was held both in and beyond the world of football. This is a beautiful tale, absorbing and well told, that, like the great man himself, is full of good humour, charm and pure class. --Jonathan Weir
There is a heartfelt, elegiac quality [to] THE WAY IT WAS ... It is only a pity he is not here to see it published (Chris Maume, Independent)
The book is an appropriate and nearly always engrossing chronicle of an illustrious career, and good to have (Ian Hamilton, Sunday Telegraph)
Especially rewarding, though, are Stan's descriptions of his technical perfectionism (Brian Glanville, Sunday Times)
A fascinating and amusing insight into the inner workings of football during its golden era (Saul David, Daily Telegraph)
THE WAY IT WAS is a ticket to a different era, when the game wasn't saturated with money and men like Sir Stanley upheld sporting ideals (Mike Pattenden, Times)
Brings vividly to life some of the greatest games of the time and features his perceptive analysis of the characters who illuminated the age (Independent)
The story of one of the greatest footballers of all time ... is told in great detail and with an unexpected sense of humour. It is his vivid memory that makes THE WAY IT WAS such a good read (FourFourTwo)
A gracefully crafted autobiography filled with entertaining anecdotes reflecting an age when the game was uncorrupted by greed and hooliganism (Birmingham Post)
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Stan himself comes over as a humble football visionary, taking diet and fitness seriously about 40 years before anyone else and a true talent. There are some episodes of his personal life he skips over like his divorce and re-marriage but this is a real insight to the golden age of football and a true footballing great.
I was at Wembley watching an International (England/Brazil?) when they announced Sir Stan had died, a poignant place to be but it did feel the right place to mourn the passing of one of our greatest footballers.
Matthews accounts are of the utmost intimate matters, as an example: playing a friendly against Nazi Germany in May, 1938 before a crowd of over 100,000 people in Berlin. The English players actually gave a Nazi salute before the game and there is a famous photograph of this. In this book, you will find out what was going on behind the scenes.
You will find out in those early days of International soccer fixtures, friendlies were regarded as just as important as the World Cup or Olympic games, whereas some tournaments were boycotted back then or not even attended at all with the ominous signs of war growing in Europe and around the world.
The summer of 1939 saw a similar incident, as the English team went into Milan to play the Italian team, the streets were filled with thousands of well-wishers. In the hotel lobby was a Maltese fans expressing their support for the 3 Lions buoyed it seems by a feeling of vulnerability to the Axis powers, Germany and Italy. In this famous game at the San Siro stadium, just like in the 1934 World Cup where referees were suspended for aiding Italy in its wins, this game again, saw farcical refereeing by a German to aid the host team. In reference, the movie Victory with Pele, Caine and Stallone is not really far from the truth in the manner it was directed. The game ended 2-2. 1948 and 1949 again, reflected the true matters at hand, with England winning at home over Italy 2-0 and then in Italy 4-0. Of course, don't tell anyone, Ireland won over England in England 2-0 less than a year before the USA's momentous victory at Belo Horizonte.
Matthews playing in the service during World War II, Matthews receiving a bit more than a pick me up from a doctor during his career and in fact, even Matthews playing until he was seventy years old and yes, retiring due to injury are all covered in this book along with apparently Matthews being a bit of a health nut way back in the day, maintaining a healthy diet and not drinking. One will also read of other major sports figures of the day and of course, of Matthews professional career mainly with Stoke City and Blackpool
The editorial reviews above reads: "'A gracefully crafted autobiography filled with entertaining anecdotes reflecting an age when the game was uncorrupted by greed and hooliganism' -- Birmingham Post
Okay, basically right but it was not uncorrupted as before a players' union was set up in England, the owners were the benefactors of much of the revenue. Likewise, I don't know about hooliganism, but this book does contain an extraordinary memoir of the Burnden (fire) stadium tragedy which demonstrates that events like Hillborough was not the first time events like this had marred the sports scene though it seems to largely be the last time an event of that magnitude happened.
If we still practised the skills of dribbling the ball that he had in abundance we would be a more effective and feared world football power still.
I liked the bit about him being completely outplayed by the German leftback in his first game against them and then his working out how to better himself next time, for which he did in some style, England winning in Nazi Germany 6-3! His father was the driving force behind him.
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