Tommy Lawton

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.[3][4][2]

Tommy Lawton
Tommy Lawton (ca.1951)
Personal information
Full name Thomas Lawton[1]
Date of birth (1919-10-06)6 October 1919
Place of birth Farnworth, England
Date of death 6 November 1996(1996-11-06) (aged 77)
Place of death Nottingham, England
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)[2]
Position(s) Centre-forward
Youth career
1933 Rossendale United
1933–1936 Burnley
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1936–1937 Burnley 25 (16)
1937–1945 Everton 87 (65)
1945–1947 Chelsea 42 (30)
1947–1952 Notts County 151 (90)
1952–1953 Brentford 50 (17)
1953–1955 Arsenal 35 (13)
1955–1956 Kettering Town 30 (15)
Total 420 (246)
National team
1939–19?? The Football League XI 3 (2)
1938–1948 England 23 (22)
1939–1946England (wartime) 23 (24)
1947 Great Britain 1 (2)
Teams managed
1953 Brentford (player-manager)
1956–1957 Kettering Town (player-manager)
1957–1958 Notts County
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.[3][4][2]

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.[3][4][2]

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.[3][4][2]

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.[3][4][2][5]