Famous footballer holidayed in Morecambe

Len Shackleton pictured in 1938.Len Shackleton pictured in 1938.
Len Shackleton pictured in 1938.
Local historian Terry Ainsworth looks back at a famous footballer who took his holidays in Morecambe.

Len Shackleton is pictured here at the age of 16 in 1938 cutting grass as a member of the Arsenal ground staff.

A year later the Arsenal manager, George Allison, told him to “go back to Yorkshire and get a job, you will never make the grade as a professional footballer.”

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Len scored 126 goals in 384 League games, mostly for Sunderland, and is widely regarded as one of the most brilliant and unorthodox players in the years after the Second World War.

During the war, Len and a Bradford Park Avenue team-mate, Jimmy Stephen were on holiday with their wives in Morecambe when Jimmy announced he was going to enter the open tennis tournament in Regent’s Park.

A very keen tennis player, Jimmy invited Len to join him using his wife’s racket.

The trouble was that Len had never played the game and in the absence of TV didn’t even know how to score.

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Needless to say, the complete novice went on to win the tournament by virtue of his ability to control and manipulate a moving ball better than 99 per cent of people.

All this means that somewhere in Morecambe is a hotel or boarding house that had one of the greatest football players of all time as a guest.

If you have any memories of anyone famous holidaying in Morecambe then please call 01524 385 932 or email [email protected].