Writer: Peverell Green
Date:Monday June 9 2014
It's back to the 1920's and 30's for a look at the career of Alf Matthews for this installment in the Where Are They Now series.
ALF MATTHEWS - Born 28th April 1901 Bristol, England.
Alf started playing football for his school Parson Street in Bristol and after leaving school continued to play for Parson Street Old Boys, it was while he was with them he was spotted by a scout from Bristol City.
He signed for them initially as an amateur and then as a professional, he made his debut during the 1921-22 season. His debut was the only first team appearance he made for the club before being transferred to Exeter City.
Alf's time at Exeter was a lot more productive for him, he spent four seasons with them and was a first team regular, making a total of 153 appearances and scoring 17 goals, nine of which were penalties. During his time at St.James Park he made 117 consecutive appearances before picking up an injury to break that run.
When Argyle manager Bob Jack was looking for a quick right winger who had an eye for goal he sent a scout to watch Alf play, he must have gave a good report when he returned as Bob made a bid of £750 which was accepted. Alf made his Argyle debut on 13th March in a 2-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers with Jack Cock scoring the Argyle goal. He scored his first goal two games later in a 5-0 thrashing of Charlton at the Valley he scored the fifth after Fred Forbes, Jack Cock and Jack Leslie (2) had all scored. In the next game Alf scored again in a 3-0 win at home to Merthyr Town when he scored in between goals from Jack Leslie and Jimmy Logan.
In the very next game Alf got the third goal in a 3-1 win at home to his first club, Bristol City, with the two Fred`s, McKenzie and Forbes getting the first two. On 24th April he scored again against Charlton in a 1-0 win at Home Park. Two days later in the next to last game of the season Argyle drew 2-2 at Brentford with Alf and Fred Forbes scoring the goals. It was Alf's fifth goal in twelve appearances but unfortunately they lost their last game 2-0 at Gillingham and, were overtaken by Reading and for the sixth successive season finished second in the table and missed out on promotion.
Alf was an ever present throughout the 1926-27 season with his speed and accurate crosses providing many goal assists for Jack Cock and Sammy Black. He also managed to score eight times himself, the first coming in a 3-1 win at home to Swindon, after he had scored the first, with goals from Fred McKenzie and Jack Leslie making the points safe.
He also scored the first goal in the next game, a 2-2 draw at Bristol Rovers with Jack Cock also scoring. Argyle beat local rivals Exeter 2-0 at St. James Park on Christmas Day and 24 hours later repeated the score in the reverse fixture at Home Park thanks to goals from Sammy Black and Alf.
At the end of January Argyle went to Aberdare and just beat the home team 6-5 in what must have been an exciting game to watch, obviously not a day to be a defender. After Alf had scored the first Jack Leslie, Jack Cock (2) and Sammy Black (2) all got on the scoresheet. Two weeks later in the next away game Argyle beat Watford 4-1, mainly thanks to a Jack Leslie hat trick with Alf getting the other goal. His next goal came in a 2-1 win at Southend, with an own goal securing another away win for the Greens.
At the end of April Alf and Fred Forbes both scored in successive home games, in the first they beat Brighton 2-0 and two days later they combined again to beat Norwich 2-1.
After playing in the first sixteen games of the 1927-28 season in which he scored one league goal, that came in a 3-2 win at home to Southend with Fred Forbes and Sammy Black also scoring. Alf picked up an injury to break a run of 71 consecutive games during a first round FA Cup game at Gillingham, despite Alf scoring Argyle lost the game 2-1.
After missing one game he returned to first team action to score the first goal in a 3-2 win at home to Millwall with Jack Leslie and Harry Bland also scoring.
Alf's next goal came in a 2-1 win over Walsall at Home Park with Frank Sloan scoring the second goal. His last goal of the season came in a derby game with Torquay, Argyle had already beaten their near neighbours 2-1 at Plainmoor earlier in the season and completed the double with an easy 4-1 win mainly thanks to a Percy Richards hat trick with Alf scoring the other goal. Percy's hat trick was the fourth of the season for Argyle players, and on top of those Fred Forbes had scored four of the five goals in the first game of the season in a 5-0 win over Merthyr at Home Park.
Alf started 1928-29 in great form scoring the first goal of the season in a 4-0 win at home to Merthyr with Raymond Bowden (2) and Jack Leslie also scoring to get the season off to a great start. He then scored in a 2-1 win at Exeter after Sammy Black had opened the scoring.
In the next away game, a 3-0 win at Norwich, Alf scored the third goal after Raymond Bowden had scored twice. Alf then got the fourth goal in a FA Cup first round game at Yeovil and Petters United after two goals from Raymond Bowden and one from Jack Leslie had broken the non-leaguers spirit.
In mid-December Brentford came to Home Park and were easily beaten 4-0 with Percy Richards, Alec Hardie, Alf and Fred Forbes all scoring. In the last game of 1928 Argyle drew 2-2 at Merthyr with Raymond Bowden and Alf both scoring.
Alf's next goal also came in a 2-2 draw, this time at home to Walsall with Sammy Black getting the first goal. He scored again in the next game a 1-1 draw with eventual runners-up Crystal Palace.
Alf's next goal came against Charlton at the Valley in a 2-1 defeat, which wasn't too bad a result, as Charlton would end the season as champions, beating Crystal Palace to promotion on goal difference.
1929-30 started the same as the previous ones had as far as Alf was concerned, he was the first choice right winger and scored in the second game of the season, a 4-3 win at Torquay, goalie Fred Craig had opened the scoring with a trademark blasted penalty with Alf, Raymond Bowden and Jack Leslie all on the scoresheet.
It would all change for Alf in the very next game, a 1-1 draw at home to Brentford when he got injured.
Unfortunately for Alf the team were in the middle of what would be an eighteen match unbeaten run and he was never able to establish himself back in the first team despite staying at the club for a further three seasons.
He made another four sporadic appearances that year as Argyle ran away with the league winning the championship by seven points from Brentford in second spot with QPR a further ten points behind them.
Alf made six appearances in Argyle's first ever season in Division 2 scoring one goal, that came in a 4-0 win at home to Barnsley when he got the fourth goal after Sammy Black (2) and Tommy Grozier had scored the first three.
1931-32 continued in the same way as the previous one, when Alf scored one goal from five appearances. His only goal came in a 3-3 draw at Bradford City in late January when he scored the first Argyle goal with Raymond Bowden and John Pullen also scoring.
Alf got off to a good start to the 1932-33 season when he scored twice in a 5-0 win at home to Preston with Jack Vidler also scoring twice after Sammy Black had opened the scoring.
The two goals were enough to keep him in the team for the next couple of games. He didn't play for the first team again until December when he played another three successive games but as soon as Tommy Grozier was fit he was back in the reserves again. Alf played his last game for the club on 25th March1933 in a 2-0 defeat at home to Notts County.
When the season ended after making 147 appearances and scoring 32 goals he was transferred to Doncaster Rovers.
His contribution to the club was recognised when he was awarded a benefit game against his former club Exeter.
Alf spent the 1933-34 season at Doncaster but never really settled there and when the season was over he moved again, this time to Crystal Palace.
While with Doncaster he made eight appearances and scored one goal.
Alf never made an appearance for Crystal Palace and retired from football after leaving them.
He returned from London to Plymouth where he lived and worked for the remainder of his life.
Sadly Alf died in 1985.
Date:Monday June 9 2014
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Stats: Plymouth Argyle v Portsmouth (Saturday November 15 2014)
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Stats: Coventry City v Plymouth Argyle (Wednesday November 12 2014)
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