Tommy Lawton's heartbreaking letter to Sir Richard Attenborough

14/01/2016  35 Comments  [Jump to last]
The ex-Everton and England striker, who scored 65 goals in 87 appearances before his career was disrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War, wrote to the late film-maker and Chelsea director asking for a loan in 1970.

» Read the full article at Daily Mail

Reader Comments (35)

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Helen Mallon
1 Posted 14/01/2016 at 19:57:53
So sad he sounded desperate. Well done to Richard Attenborough for lending the £100 a lot of money in those days.
Trevor Lynes
2 Posted 14/01/2016 at 20:00:10
I actually watched him play against us when he was with Notts County. They beat us 4-1 at Goodison and Lawton won every header even though he was in his twilight years.
Tony Hill
3 Posted 14/01/2016 at 20:33:47
One of our true greats. I remember going to his testimonial in the early 70s. A lot of footballers fell on hard times then. Indeed, apart from a select few, there were top division players up to the Sky intervention who were not especially well paid.

But Lawton was a giant among footballers, though I had to rely on my father for tales of his days with us.

Colin Glassar
4 Posted 14/01/2016 at 20:40:13
A lot of players used to end up being pub landlords, builders or went into insurance, car sales, retail make ends meet. A car and a semi-detached were considered the pinnacles of luxury. Not like the overpaid, spoilt, pampered sods today.
Dave Abrahams
5 Posted 14/01/2016 at 20:51:06
Tony (#3) yes they were really hard done to by the clubs who owned them, semi slaves if the truth was known. I went to that testimonial, think it earned him something like £6,000 which wasn't bad then.

I saw him play for Notts County in a Second Division at Goodison Park, County won 5-1 if I'm not mistaken, an inside right named Jackson scored four. Tommy was the centre forward, he played for a few teams but his best years, like a lot of players then, were ruined by the war... he had a lot to answer for, that fucking Hitler.

Colin Glassar
6 Posted 14/01/2016 at 20:54:42
Tell me about it Dave, my dad said that '39 league winning team would've dominated football for a few more years if it wasn't for that fucking Austrian corporal.
Tony Hill
7 Posted 14/01/2016 at 21:21:06
I see he scored 90 in 151 games for Notts County, Dave. My father said he was the best header of the ball he saw, including Dixie.
Mike Hughes
8 Posted 14/01/2016 at 21:44:16
It was very sad reading that letter from Tommy Lawton. How desperate he must have been. Thankfully EFC pretty much lead the way with the Former Players' Foundation and in the community. Given the inflated wages these days, I think the community work will increase in importance.

Mike Hughes
14 Posted 14/01/2016 at 22:19:05
In all seriousness - and getting back to the theme of the thread - the Tommy Lawton letter is actually tragic and humiliating.

Being a footballer - probably even up to the late 1970's / early 1980's was probably not the golden ticket we all assume. Jimmy Hill's influence in that respect was beneficial.

But - the PL wages by comparison cannot be described as anything but obscene. Even mediocrity gets rewarded.

Eddie Dunn
17 Posted 14/01/2016 at 22:43:26
In the early 80's I was a student in Nottingham, and Tommy Lawton could be found on occasion in the Radford Arms, where he would hold court about all things football. Incidentally, my old tutor who used to chat to him, regularly played in his National Service team alongside Duncan Edwards and Bobby Charlton.
Mike Hughes
18 Posted 14/01/2016 at 22:53:13
Eddie - that story indicates how things will never be the same as they were with respect to footballers. Has any occupation been so elevated in status over the (recent) decades as that of a footballer? There's the link to Tommy Lawton's plight - and he was a top, top player / legend - but it would be difficult to imagine that of any established middle-of-the-road pro today.

Only this morning while walking our Dixie, I got talking to two Blues in the local park. One of them mentioned how his father had met the real Dixie Dean in some pub in Chester (the Dublin Packet?) and how Dixie ended up buying his father (he'd never met him before) a pint. Can't imagine it from a modern day player (except perhaps the likes of Naismith or Cahill) as I get the impression they're too self-absorbed in their blacked-out Daimlers.

Tony Hill
19 Posted 14/01/2016 at 23:08:28
Labone used to love a pint with the fans, what a humble gent he was. He was good mates with Ian Callaghan, another lovely, modest man despite his unfortunate judgment.
Colin Glassar
20 Posted 14/01/2016 at 23:18:03
I think Paul Pogba's (gold threaded) jacket at the balon d'or bash was probably worth more than a player like Lawton earned during his career.
Mike Hughes
21 Posted 14/01/2016 at 23:19:44
They're not cheap Colin.
But they are surprisingly warm.
Paul Ferry
22 Posted 15/01/2016 at 03:19:15
That letter from Lord Dickie Attenborough to Tommy about non-payment for the final tickets tells you all you need to know about this particular relationship and this particular person for whom that money was not a drop not even a blip or the slightest merest touch in the ocean.

It's distressing to read Tommy's deferential appeals to the paternalistic Attenborough's charity. Tommy was ten times the player that Dickie Darling was an actor.

Jimmy Hill (RIP) started something in the early '60s to take better care of the likes of Tommy - although too late for him - and today watching piennar or osman do virtually nothing but pick up more in a week than the average Evertonian's ten-month (twelve-month) salary is xxxxx obscene.

Tommy - or erm Vardy, Carroll, Benteke, erm ....... Jerome ......

Colin, written by a fella who grew up in a semi-detached house in Crosby mate on Manor Road!

Harold Matthews
23 Posted 15/01/2016 at 07:53:11
I probably watched the great Tommy Lawton but can't remember much these days. We watched all the stars after the war, at both grounds.

Amazing aerial skill. Legend has it that they would help train him with a long row of bottles on the goal-line, each one marked with a number. As the ball was crossed, they called out a number and Tommy would knock the bottle over.

Not read the letters. Too personal. None of my business.

Eddie Dunn
24 Posted 15/01/2016 at 09:10:07
Mike, My Dad who is 84 reminded me that when I was a nipper, we lived in Tranmere, and Dixie Dean lived round the corner, and we would walk past him on the way to the park. He would always say hello. Little did I know at the time, but it is nice to look back on.

The auld feller also had a few pints in the Dublin Packet... here's a link to some pictures in the Chester Chronicle.
John Hughes
25 Posted 15/01/2016 at 10:42:40
On about The Dublin Packet, when me and mates go for a pint in Chester, we still go to "DIxies" – mind you, we are in our mid 70s.

Interesting though across the market square The Shropshire Arms, mine host was Alex Stevenson, who played before and after the war. Charlie Leyfield also had the City Arms and I think George Burnett the 'keeper had a pub in Chester.

I know lots of useless information!
Colin Glassar
26 Posted 15/01/2016 at 10:59:01
Lawton was one of those players we let go far too early. He could've changed our post-war history if he had stayed.

Good to see you back Mr Ferry. From Crosby to Hyde Park eh? You have come up in the world.

Kevin Elliott
27 Posted 15/01/2016 at 12:38:04
Paul Ferry.
Great post mate.
Peter Barry
28 Posted 15/01/2016 at 13:13:53
My first ex-wife lived on Melrose Drive in a semi-detached house opposite the RS ground and her next door neighbour was Chris Lawler.

As youngsters, we regularly used to see the RS and Everton players in the city clubs like the Beachcomber and the She Club after matches on Saturday evening. You would never see today's players slumming it like that.

My Father and Grandfather, who took me to my first Everton games when I was about eight years old in the mid '50s, used to remember the days when the players would be on the same buses or trams as the fans going to the grounds on a Saturday afternoon.
Mike Hughes
29 Posted 15/01/2016 at 15:15:12
I've just read the entire Daily Mail article including the letter from Luvvie Attenborough to Tommy Lawton asking for payment for the tickets.

A tenner. The tight-fisted, snivelling get.

I thought all his films were crap as well. Take 'Gandhi' – what a load of bollocks – would never have happened!!!

Eddie Dunn
30 Posted 15/01/2016 at 15:40:37

I just read the whole thing... the Mail headline seemed to make out that Dickie was being kind, but he comes out of this very badly.

At first, I thought the letters from Dickie's office, posted while he was away filming, must have been an oversight, but to see the follow-up from Attenbro' asking for the dosh, and expressing how embarrassed he had been, was totally disgusting.

I hated him in his films, and I hated Gandhi too – so that's two of us!

Dave Abrahams
31 Posted 15/01/2016 at 18:18:47
Colin (19) being honest, I think it was the case that Tommy wanted to go, and although they were treated badly and were chronically underpaid, a lot of money was paid under the counter to big stars, Tommy was in the elite class when it came to ability, and he did move around a bit once he left Everton.

In the '50s Sunderland were heavily fined for paying wages and signing on fees to well known players at the time.

Dave Abrahams
32 Posted 15/01/2016 at 18:23:31
I should have said Sunderland were heavily fined for paying wages and signing on fees without declaring them, under-the-counter payments.
Bill Gall
33 Posted 15/01/2016 at 18:40:40
Still have the video "The Official History Of Everton FC" that describes the club for over a century of achievements. In it, Tommy Lawton describes going to Goodison on the tramcar and at the training sessions the trainers would tie the ball on a rope from the rafters so you had to jump up and head it. If you missed it, you would get a whack on your backside with a stick.

Can you imagine today's prima donnas putting up with that, or even the OHS... my, how times change.

Andy Crooks
34 Posted 15/01/2016 at 21:50:02
Good post, Ferry, I agree with you.

Harold, I read the letters and felt saddened by them. It seems to me that the Luvvy enjoyed the association with Tommy Lawton and their "friendship", only went just as far as the Luvvy wanted.

I don't think they should have been published and they reflect badly on Attenborough. Nor do I think they should be used to bash modern players.

I would expect that, if Wayne Rooney, or indeed many current players, received such an anguished request, help would be given quietly and not in the form of a loan.

Andy Crooks
35 Posted 15/01/2016 at 21:52:56
Sorry, Paul, I didn't mean to leave your first name out... I must have come across a bit Dickie Attenborough.
Paul Ferry
36 Posted 16/01/2016 at 02:32:22
Not at all, Andy mate... hahaha – but thanks, I always love reading your posts.
Ian Jones
37 Posted 16/01/2016 at 08:14:08
I don't agree that these letters were published. Doesn't help the memory of either party.

But I find the suggestion that the letters are to be sold is worse. Wonder who gets the money. It would be good to think that the money raised would go to one of the causes set up to help some of the older footballers who are struggling etc.

Phil Sammon
38 Posted 16/01/2016 at 08:46:09
Very sad that Lawton fell on hard times and the requests for money must have pained him to write.

The requests for the tickets, however... he didn't need to ask that of a man he was already indebted to.

We've all known people who have no shame in asking favour after favour. I don't know either party, but is it possible that Lawton simply asked Attenborough for one too many favours?

Geoff Evans
39 Posted 16/01/2016 at 14:29:39
Paul @15: Super thread, well said.
Conor Skelly
40 Posted 18/01/2016 at 16:30:00
I'd agree with you on that, Phil. It seemed he was taking liberties a bit with the tickets considering he was already in the mans debt.
Ernie Baywood
41 Posted 20/01/2016 at 01:55:08
The letters are fascinating, but I would have preferred that they were not published. A man's lowest points communicated to a friend should never be for public release.

On Attenborough, I thought he came across quite well. The 100 pound was a 'loan' but Attenborough never used the word and made it clear that it's repayment was up to Tommy. I thought that was quite a dignified way to give it - not charity but also not hard arsed with it.

On the tickets, again, I can understand. It wasn't the money, it was the embarrassment to Attenborough of it going through the club books and not being collected.

None of this clouds my view of Tommy. It's no surprise to hear that footballers of that time were short of cash in their retirement and he was prepared to do whatever it took to find work and make ends meet.

Jim Jennings
42 Posted 20/01/2016 at 02:57:09
Agree with those who think the letters should not have been published. I just don't see who it benefits. My thoughts go to Lawton's living relatives who have to read these letters. Also disappointing that people see fit to slag off Attenbrough when none of us know the background and full nature of their relationship.

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