Eddie Was Real Deal

Man City Aren’t Alone In Frequent Madrid Meetings!

Eddie Stuart flanked by Alfredo di Stefano as Stoke and Real Madrid prepare for battle in 1963.

Eddie Stuart might have thought he had left the big time behind when he made his exit from Wolves to join Second Division Stoke more than 60 years ago.

In many ways he had but memorable days and nights still came his way in North Staffordshire over the following season or two. 

The South African never replicated the thrill he had experienced at Molineux of being part of the winning of three League crowns and leading a side who reached an FA Cup final but he still became a title winner once more and faced Real Madrid for the third time.

Such a CV confirmed that Wolves saw the best of Eddie and he saw the best of them. They were in decline by the time he transferred in his 30s up the A449 and A34 for £8,000 in July, 1962.

But Stoke manager Tony Waddington still saw enough to make him skipper of a team containing Eddie Clamp and Stanley Matthews and he led the side out when they emerged from the tunnel with the Spanish superstars in the Potters’ centenary celebration match in April, 1963.

Stuart, who had considerable captaincy experience from his decade and a bit at Molineux, was promoted from Stoke’s regular ranks within a few weeks of tasting Division Two football for the first time and had the excitement of partaking in a worthy draw with Madrid in front of a 44,000 crowd.

His two-year stay at the Victoria Ground also brought promotion in his first season, the so-called ‘Old Crocks’ like he, Clamp, Matthews, Dennis Viollet and Jackie Mudie doing much to help lift the Second Division title in 1962-63, a point clear of both Chelsea and third-placed Sunderland.

As a Wolves player, Stuart had been part of a victorious side against multi European Cup winners Real in the West Midlands in October, 1957, and then also played in the return two months later. That meeting in the Bernabeu, like the Stoke v Real clash, was a 2-2 draw.

Stuart in action against Tottenham at Molineux.

All of these occasions would have been surpassed, though, had he not been squeezed out of Wolves’ FA Cup final side against Blackburn in 1960 following race riots in South Africa and the subsequent publicity here. He carried that regret for the rest of his life.

Stuart, used by Wolves as a right-back or centre-half after curiously making his debut against Albion as a centre-forward 72 years ago yesterday, later moved on to Tranmere and joined Stockport in 1966 before dropping into non-League with Worcester.

He died ten years ago this coming autumn, aged 83, with representatives of his different clubs in attendance at the funeral in Wrexham.

 

 

 

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