Saturday, 9 May 2020


Following on from yesterday's VE Day 75th Anniversary, I thought I'd show you this programme from a match that took place the day after VE Day.

There must have been a few sore heads the following morning, but 25,000 people trooped along to Wembley Stadium to see the Combined Services XI play the National Police & Civil Defence, in what had become an annual charity match.

They were essentially teams packed full of well-known professional footballers, who were all serving in these various services throughout the War. 

And looking through the two teams, there are some very interesting names ...

The National Police & Civil Defence side boasted a star front line, including three England Internationals. 
Arsenal's famous striker Cliff Bastin, who held their goalscoring record for decades, Len Goulden of West Ham, who bagged 14 caps, and Chelsea winger Dick Spence, who carried on serving the club for many years as a youth team coach.

The Combined Services team had some players who all went on to achieve significant success.
The right back Harry Ferrier won two League Championships with Portsmouth in 1949 and 1950, while Ron Burgess also won the Title with Tottenham. 
There were also two famous future managers, Ted Fenton, who was in charge of West Ham for 11 years, winning a Second Division Championship, and Vic Buckingham who had an extraordinary managerial career. He won the FA Cup with West Brom in 1954, and went on to manage a host of clubs throughout Europe, including the giants Ajax and Barcelona.

The stand-out name on their teamsheet though, is Stan Mortensen, who at this time, was just embarking on his immortal career with Blackpool. The game would oddly also serve as a precursor to his finest hour.

Although nearly all the players who appeared in this match had decent careers in the game, the tragedy for all of their generation is that they lost 6 years to the War.
Some of the finest players of this time only had a few years in the professional game.
As shown here, most joined the services or the police, as they were effectively out of a job when the War started. Although as football continued in a regionalised format, they were able to at least keep playing the game when time allowed. 
It also produced the quirk of any player turning up to play for any team, as players were stationed all over the country.

So what was the score of this match?!

The Combined Services XI won 3-1.

Stan Mortensen hit all three of their goals!

Hat-tricks at Wembley are a rare thing, so this remains a significant moment in history, but Stan repeated this feat in the most famous game of his career. 
The 1953 FA Cup Final victory over Bolton, which forever became known as the 'Matthews Final', in honour of Stanley Matthews finally winning the Cup. 
Stan remains the only player to score a hat-trick in a Wembley Final.
For the record, Len Goulden scored the consolation for the other side.

Looking at the back of the programme, coming up was a Victory International against France on 26th May, in which 65,000 turned up, and saw an honourable 2-2 draw. And a Middlesex Senior Red Cross Competition Cup Final, where Golders Green beat Tufnell Park 4-1! 

This programme serves as a unique snapshot in time, as the War in Europe was finally over and people could think about the simple pleasures of just seeing a football match again.
Its also the oldest programme in my collection!

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