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Stan Mortensen

 

English forward who starred for England and Blackpool in the 1940s and 1950s. Nicknamed the Blackpool Bombshell, the Electric Eel or Electric Heels, he bewildered defences with his ability to weave through them and reach the goal.

Stanley Mortensen was born at 23 Lord Nelson Street, South Shields, on 26 May 1921.  His Scandinavian surname, the cause of many journalistic misprints, was inherited from his Norwegian grandfather, a sailor based in South Shields. Educated at St Mary's School, Tyne Dock, he was selected for the school football team when only nine years old and for South Shields schoolboys at the age of thirteen.

After leaving school at fourteen he worked in a timber yard for three years before joining Blackpool United Football Club as an inside-right in 1938, after impressing club scouts in a junior match. During the Second World War he joined the RAF as a wireless operator–gunner; he subsequently survived an aircrash near Lossiemouth which killed two members of the crew and saw a third lose a leg.

Although he received serious head injuries, he soon resumed his football career, and played for at least eleven clubs in various wartime competitions. He made his international debut during the war, turning out for Wales against England in 1943 when the Welsh left-half was injured shortly before the game.

When the Football League programme resumed in 1946, Mortensen was an automatic choice in the Blackpool side, either at inside-right or centre-forward. His acceleration, ability to shoot fiercely from awkward angles, and general quick-wittedness, soon made him one of the most effective goal-scorers in the English game.

Between 1946 and 1955 he scored 197 goals for his club in 325 league games and a further 25 in 29 FA cup games: he scored in every round (including the final) in 1947–8. He finished on the losing side in 1948 and again in 1951, but in 1953, against Bolton Wanderers, he became the first player to score a hat-trick in a Wembley FA cup final in the game now remembered as the Matthews Final. Bill Perry, who scored the winning goal for Blackpool, later recalled: "I did feel sorry for Stan Mortensen because he scored a hat-trick that day and no-one really said much about it."

Mortensen was also a prolific goal-scorer at international level, particularly in his early games: he scored four times on his full international début in a 10–0 defeat of Portugal in 1947, and completed a hat-trick against Sweden later in the year. Overall, he scored twenty-three times in twenty-five England appearances between 1947 and 1953.

Mortensen left Blackpool in October 1955 for Hull City, then joined Southport for the 1956–7 season. Between 1957 and 1962 he played non-league football with Bath and then Lancaster City, before finally retiring in 1962 to run a betting shop and a sports outfitter's in Blackpool, where he also served as a Conservative councillor.

He returned to football in February 1967 as manager of Blackpool, but despite only narrowly failing to secure the team promotion to the first division in the following year, he was sacked in April 1969.

Mortensen died at the Victoria Hospital, Blackpool, following a heart attack, on 22 May 1991.  Mortensen was undoubtedly one of the best players of his generation, much liked and respected by his fellow players, and a major attraction at grounds throughout the country in the ten years after the Second World War.