Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Tommy Lawton finished top scorer in Division One in 1937/8 and 1938/39


Everton 1937-38

29 goals (out of 79) 19 home, 10 away. Percentage: 36.7%

Runner-up: Dave McCulloch (Brentford) 26

Finished fourteenth 


Everton 1938-39

34 goals (out of 88) 20 home, 14 away. Percentage: 38.6%

Joint top scorer with Mick Fenton (Middlesbrough)



The article is from this book, published in 2012. 

In their book ‘The Essential History of England’ published in 2002, writers Andrew Mourant and Jack Rollin wrote: ‘Lawton combined brawn and delicacy; one moment a blood-and-thunder centre-forward, the next executing some manoeuvre of wit and subtlety.’
One contemporary said that he was ‘...the lightest mover of any big man who ever played football’ while another wrote ‘everything was about him was a threat: from his coolness, to the jut of his head on a muscular neck that could flick a heavy ball into goal like a stone from a catapult.’

Yes, indeed, he was a great centre-forward, brilliant on the ground, absolutely supreme in the air and a constant threat to defences throughout his career.... and all this despite having flat feet!

The only player to have scored in five consecutive England internationals on two separate occasions, he still holds the best post-war strike-rate of any England forward, netting 16 goals in 15 appearances for his country (1946-48)... doing so when there weren’t too many under-par footballing nationals around! He also scored one of the quickest-ever goals by an Englishman, netting after just 17 seconds against Portugal in 1947.

Over a period of 20 years, from his professional debut in 1935 until his retirement in 1956, Lawton scored a total of 292 goals in 471 competitive matches, including 232 in 390 League games. He also netted almost 160 goals in 125 wartime games (152 in 114 starts for Everton), struck 22 goals in 23 appearances for England, including two fours versus Holland in 1946 and Portugal in 1947, bagged another 24 goals in 23 Wartime and Victory internationals and notched two in his three appearances for the Football League.

He also scored another 200 goals in various friendly, tour and other wartime matches. That’s some record.
 Tommy Lawton was born in Bolton on 6 October 1919 - his father was a signalman on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, his mother, a weaver. 
A pupil at Tongue Moor and Castle Hill Schools, Bolton, he represented Lancashire Boys (playing for the North v. the South in 1933) and scored a staggering 570 goals in just three seasons for his school and for weekend team, Hayes Athletic. An amateur with Bolton and a trialist with Sheffield Wednesday, he also played for Rossendale United before joining Burnley as a 15 year-old in May 1935, turning professional in October 1936.

Lawton became Burnley’s youngest ever League debutant when he played against Doncaster Rovers in March 1936 at the age of 16 years, 174 days. Seven months later, he was the youngest-ever player (at that time) to score a League hat-trick, netting three times for the Clarets against Spurs. Then, following his move from Turf Moor to Goodison Park in December 1936 for £6,500 – a record for a teenager - he became the youngest-ever scorer in a Merseyside derby, obliging against Liverpool at the age of 17 years, 362 days in October 1937.

He went on to top the First Division scoring charts in season 1937-38 with 29 goals and the following year he helped Everton win the League championship with a haul of 34 goals, which saw him top the scoring charts again, this time jointly with Micky Fenton of Middlesbrough.

Remaining at Goodison Park for nine years – and having played as a wartime guest for Aldershot, Morton and Tranmere Rovers - he switched his allegiance to Chelsea for £11,000 in November 1945. After spending two years at Stamford Bridge – and falling out with manager Billy Burrell - he was transferred to Notts County for a record fee of £20,000. He helped the Magpies win the Third Division (S) championship in 1950 and following a spell at Brentford (from March 1952 to September 1953) he wound down his career with Arsenal whom he joined in a £10,000 cash/player-exchange deal involving James Robertson.

In March 1956, Lawton was appointed player-manager of Kettering Town. A year later he took over at his former club Notts County before returning to Kettering for a second spell as boss in 1963, becoming a director in 1968. Thereafter he worked as a coach and chief scout at Meadow Lane before becoming a licensee in Lowdham, Nottingham where he lived until his death in November 1996.
Back in 1936, Lawton teamed up with the great Dixie Dean at Everton and when they first met the legendary centre-forward put his arm round Lawton and said: "I know you've come here to take my place. Anything I can do to help you I will. I promise, anything at all." 
Dean, 30 years old at the time, had suffered several serious injuries and knew that there was not much time left for him at top level. 
Dean kept his promise and spent a lot of time with Lawton on the training ground. Gordon Watson, who played at inside-left for Everton, later recalled: "Lawton and Dean used to work together under the main stand, Dean throwing up a large cased ball, stuffed with wet paper to make it as heavy as a medicine ball". 
Six weeks after joining Everton, Lawton was introduced to the first team for an away match against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Dean being rested prior to a fifth round FA Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur. Lawton found it difficult playing against England’s rugged centre-half, Stan Cullis but he did he manage a consolation goal 15 minutes from the end of a devastating 7-2 defeat at Molineux. 
Everton drew their Cup-tie with Spurs and it was decided to play Lawton alongside Dean in the replay. In the second minute Lawton scored with a tremendous shot from outside the penalty-area. Dean turned to his team-mate Joe Mercer and said: "Well, that's it then. That's my swan song. That's the end of it." 
Dean realised at this point that it would not be long before Lawton would take his place in the side. 
After twenty minutes, Albert Geldard crossed for Dean to make it 2-0. Dean later added a third to no avail as Spurs scored four to go into the sixth round. 
Dean and Lawton both netted in the next game when Leeds United were thumped 7-0 and they finished the season with 34 and three goals to their credit respectively. This was the start of things to come
At the beginning of the 1937-38 season, Lawton lined up again alongside Dean, but the pairing did not work, Everton failing to win a game when the two strikers played together. In early September, Dean was dropped and Lawton switched to centre-forward for the game against Manchester City. He scored in the 4-1 victory and kept his place; Dean only played in two more games for Everton before leaving the club. 
After netting against the team he supported as a lad, Bolton Wanderers, Lawton celebrated with a goal in the 2-1 Merseyside derby win at Liverpool before scoring in six of the seven League games played in October and November, including an excellent strike against Leeds United (1-1). This made it five goals in eight games as Everton started to climb the table. However, on the Monday after the Leeds game, Lawton upset several players by walking into the dressing room at Goodison Park and saying ‘Morning boys.’ As a result he was thrown fully-clothed into the bath!
There followed a rather lean spell in December before he returned to form with a fine goal against Blackpool (won 3-1), scored another in a competent 4-1 and double-achieving victory over Bolton and claimed braces at Leeds (4-4) and in home wins over Grimsby Town (3-2) and West Bromwich Albion (5-3).
Everton finished 14th in 1937-38 and Lawton ended up as top marksman with 28 goals in 39 League games. The following season he finished top of the charts again, this time jointly with Fenton, an amazing achievement for someone so young as he was still only 18 years of age. 
Lawton scored in each of the first four League games at the start of the 1938-39 campaign (all won). The fifth match was against Arsenal, the reigning League champions, at Highbury in front of almost 65,000 fans. 
After 15 minutes Lawton laid on a goal for Alex Stevenson before powering in a second himself in the 38th minute, George Casey of the Sunday Pictorial describing it as ‘A wonder goal’. 
In the second-half, Bryn Jones scored for the Gunners from 30 yards. However, Everton held on to their lead despite Lawton getting a battering from Wilf Copping
Lawton had constantly beat the Arsenal defenders in the air and Copping warned him that he was "jumping too high" and that he would have to be "brought down to my level". 
As Lawton later recalled "Sure enough the next time we both went for a cross, I ended up on the ground, blood streaming from my nose. Copping, looking down at me said 'Ah told thee, Tom. Tha's jumping too high!' 
Lawton’s nose was broken and to make things worse, when Arsenal came to Goodison Park later in the season, Copping broke Lawton’s nose again! 
Charlie Buchan, writing in the Daily Chronicle argued that Lawton was the main reason for Everton's 2-1 victory: "....he had a lot to do with the success; he kept the wings moving and was ever dangerous in front of goal."
On target in the next game – a 5-1 home win over Portsmouth – Lawton had now scored in the first six matches. After a couple of goalless encounters, he got back on track with the winner over Wolves and also found the net at Bolton before whipping in a hat-trick in a 4-0 romp over Middlesbrough at Goodison Park, one of his goals being a stupendous header, directed with enormous power and accuracy past ‘keeper Dave Cumming.
Following up with two goals against both Manchester United (won 3-0) and Chelsea (won 4-1), Lawton was impressing all and sundry with his strong and clever centre-forward play. However, he didn’t have much success in the scoring stakes between mid-December and mid-January but stormed back with another fine goal in a 2-0 home win over Arsenal before hitting the target in home victories over Huddersfield Town (3-2), Portsmouth (1-0) and a 3-0 win at Liverpool.
Following another three-week spell without a goal, during which time Everton also slipped out of the FA Cup in the sixth round, Lawton was outstanding in the last two months of the campaign. He scored in a 4-0 win over Leicester, hammered home the first four-timer of his career in an eight-goal thriller with Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park (4-4 – with Cumming again the hapless ‘Boro ‘keeper), netted two vital goals in a 4-2 win over Birmingham, salvaged another point at home to Stoke (1-1), grabbed the winner at Sunderland (2-1) and then helped his team-mates complete the double over the Wearsiders with another smart goal in a 6-2 victory at Goodison Park.
This proved to be Lawton’s last goal of the season as one more win and a draw secured the League title ahead of Wolves. 
During this excellent campaign, Lawton won his first cap for England, lining up against Wales in October. He scored in the 27th minute but the Welsh surprisingly won the game 4-2. Four days later Lawton scored again in a 3-0 victory over FIFA and the following month netted in both games against Norway (4-0) and Northern Ireland (7-0). 
Lawton was only 20 years old when War was declared in September 1939. At the peak of his form at the time, he continued to sparkle throughout the hostilities, scoring goals galore for Everton and England. 
The British Army invited some of the best footballers to become Physical Training instructors at Aldershot. Lawton was one of them along with a certain Matt Busby.
On returning ‘home’ he continued to play for Everton before surprisingly being sold to Chelsea.
What they said about Tommy Lawton...centre-forward supreme

Len Shackleton (Sunderland and England)
“In his prime, Tommy had everything – a terrific shot with either foot, strength and accuracy with his head, the perfect physique, wonderful positional sense and a quickness off the mark that was unexpected in one of his build.”

Stanley Matthews (Blackpool and England):
“Tommy possessed a rocket of a shot, he could hit the ball equally well with either foot and was lethal in the air and, most surprisingly for a centre-forward of the time, had all the ball skill and creative prowess of the most mercurial of inside-forwards.”

Wilf Mannion (Middlesbrough and England): 
“I cannot recall any centre half who could keep him in check in his international days. He was the complete centre forward.”

Stan Mortensen (Blackpool and England)
Tommy had a wonderful knack of heading the ball from a high centre. He was marvellously equipped for the job of leading a forward line.”

* Lawton was rewarded with a belated benefit match (Notts County v. Nottingham Forest) in 1971 and a Testimonial match at Goodison Park in 1972.

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