Thomas Lawton (6 October 1919 – 6 November 1996) was an English football player and manager. A strong centre-forward with excellent all-round attacking skills, he was able to head the ball with tremendous power and accuracy.
Tommy Lawton (ca.1951)
|Full name||Thomas Lawton|
|Date of birth||6 October 1919|
|Place of birth||Farnworth, England|
|Date of death||6 November 1996 77)(aged|
|Place of death||Nottingham, England|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|1939–19??||The Football League XI||3||(2)|
|1939–1946||→ England (wartime)||23||(24)|
|1956–1957||Kettering Town (player-manager)|
|1963–1964||Kettering Town (caretaker-manager)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Born in Farnworth and raised in Bolton, he played amateur football at Rossendale United, before he turned professional at Burnley on his 17th birthday. He also played cricket for Burnley Cricket Club, before his potential as a footballer won him a £6,500 move to Everton in January 1937. He went on to finish as the First Division's top-scorer in 1938 and 1939, helping Everton to finish as champions of the Football League in the latter campaign. League football was then suspended for seven full seasons due to the outbreak of war in Europe, during which time he scored 24 goals in 23 appearances for England whilst guesting for Everton and a number of other clubs. In November 1945, he moved to Chelsea for £14,000, and scored a club record 26 goals in 34 league games in the 1946–47 season.
In November 1947, he made a surprise move to Third Division South club Notts County for a British record transfer fee of £20,000. He helped the club to win promotion as champions in 1949–50, before he moved on to Brentford in March 1952 for a club record £16,000. In January 1953, Brentford appointed him player-manager, though he would only remain in charge for nine months. He joined Arsenal as a player in November 1953 for £10,000, where he saw out the remainder of his playing career. Despite losing much of his best years to World War II, he scored 260 goals in 433 league and cup competitions in 14 full seasons in the Football League.
He had a promising start to his managerial career by leading Kettering Town to the Southern League title in 1956–57, but then only had two more seasons as manager, getting relegated with Notts County in 1957–58 and then relegated with Kettering Town in 1963–64. During the 1970s he struggled with debt and related legal problems, which were reported in the media as an example of a celebrated person having fallen from grace.
He scored 22 goals in his 23 England appearances over a ten-year international career from 1938 to 1948, including four against Portugal in May 1947. He helped England to win two British Home Championship titles outright (1946–47 and 1947–48), and to share the Championship in 1938–39. He fell out of international contention at the age of 28 due to his contempt for manager Walter Winterbottom, his decision to drop out of the First Division, and the emergence of Jackie Milburn and Nat Lofthouse. As well as his England caps, he also represented The Football League XI and played in a special Great Britain game against Europe in 1947. He married twice, and had two children and one step-child. His ashes are held in the National Football Museum, and he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2003.