Wilf Mannion

Boro's golden boy

Player Biography
Full name: Wilfred James Mannion
Date of birth: May 16, 1918
Date of death: April 14, 2000
Clubs played for: Middlesbrough, Hull, Cambridge
Huddersfield v Middlesbrough, 1949
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Huddersfield v Middlesbrough, 1949 Wilf Mannion, 1947 Wilf Mannion, 1947 Wilf Mannion statue
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Club Career

A Teessider through and through, Mannion signed for Middlesbrough at the age of 18, having impressed in the local leagues. The gifted inside-forward made his first-team debut a year after putting pen to paper, but his progress was cut short by the war. On his return to action, he scored Boro's first post-war goal. He went on to score more than 100 times in the red shirt before his time at Ayresome Park turned sour.

He wanted a move to Third Division Oldham, which would have enabled him to run a business at the same time to boost his earnings, an option not open to him in the top-flight. Boro slapped a huge price tag on him, and the move collapsed. Mannion eventually signed for Hull, but this move also brought trouble when he was suspended for making allegations about under-the-counter payments in the game. The ban was eventually lifted and he ended his career at non-league Cambridge.

Club Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1936-54 Middlesbrough 368 110
1954-56 Hull 16 1

International Career

Having cemented his place in the Boro first-team, Mannion wasted little time earning a regular starting berth in Walter Winterbottom's side, grabbing three goals on his England debut. He was selected for the 1950 World Cup, netting England's second goal in their opening win over Chile. The Three Lions were sent packing after defeats to the USA and Spain, however, and Mannion's international career came to an end soon after.

International Career Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1946-51 England 26 11

Key Games

Middlesbrough 9-2 Blackpool (First Division, December 10, 1938)

Middlesbrough recorded the biggest victory in their history, thanks largely to the exploits of Wilf Mannion. The Boro-bred forward found the net no fewer than four times in a stunning display. Having raced into a 5-0 lead at the interval, Boro added to their tally in the second half with three goals from Micky Fenton and one from Cliff Chadwick.

Northern Ireland 2-7 England (Home International Championship, September 28, 1946)

Mannion eventually made his debut for England following the end of World War II, and it was well worth the wait. He fired a hat-trick against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park to mark his international bow in style. England took the lead as early as the first minute through Raich Carter, and Mannion opened his account six minutes later. He completed his hat-trick after the interval as England hammered the Irish, much to the dismay of the home crowd.

Middlesbrough 4-0 Blackpool (First Division, November 22, 1947)

Despite not scoring himself, Mannion's performance against Blackpool at a packed Ayresome Park was so great that the game was branded 'The Mannion Match'. He had a hand in all four goals, setting up two for Cec McCormack and one each for Mickey Fenton and Johnny Spuhler.

Did You Know...?

There is a statue of Wilf Mannion outside Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium

Despite being posted in the Middle East, Mannion made four wartime appearances for England

He later ran a pub in Stevenage and worked for ICI on Teesside.

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From the back pages

Middlesbrough 9-2 Blackpool Published: December 12, 1938

First Division match report

Northern Ireland 2-7 England Published: September 30, 1946

Home International match report

Middlesbrough 4-0 Blackpool Published: November 24, 1947

First Division match report

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