I found this new biography of Sir Stanley Matthews hard going. It is a little too dry for my taste, giving plenty of facts and statistics about Sir Stanley's career but tells us relatively little about Stan the man as opposed to Stan the footballer. I'm sure that the reason for this can largely be put down to Matthews being a person who preferred to keep his private life private, but even so, I had expected to learn a bit more about him than this book offered. If anything this book left me with more questions than answers. For example there seems to be an undercurrent that suggests that he wasn't always that popular with his team-mates, was this because of Matthews was not a team player, plain jealousy or something else? Matthews doesn't appear to have been liked by many of his club managers either but the reasons given for this seem a little inadequate, leaving me feeling that there must be more to it than is stated. Then there is Matthews's attitude; one of his main motivations for doing anything seems to have been the payment he would receive in return - is this entirely fair? The book fails to provide me with enough evidence for me to form definitive opinions about Stan's true nature.
Because numerous books have been written about Stanley Matthews previously I get the distinct impression that the sole reason for publishing this book was to reveal recently unearthed information about the former life of Matthew's second wife, the Czech born Mila. Whilst the author, Jon Henderson, seems to place a great deal of importance on this, I personally found the section of the book that deals with this particularly dull, having little interest to the probable reader of the book, the football lover.
For all my misgivings this I would still recommend this book as it will be of interest to those who saw Matthews play and those who didn't but want to learn about a legendary footballer. As a companion piece I would suggest that they also read Matthew's 2001 autobiography, The Way it Was: My Autobiography, a one-sided but enjoyable alternate account of his life.
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