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Tommy Lawton

Inducted 11 January 2014

When Notts County signed Tommy Lawton for a British record fee of £20,000 (£15,000 and £5,000 valued wing-half Bill Dickson) the footballing world stood in shock. After all, the England number nine had left the top flight to join the Division Three (South) Magpies - much like Wayne Rooney doing the same nowadays.

An astonishing coup, Lawton was a superstar of his generation, who, despite having to wear orthotics due to having flat feet, achieved fame for his pace, heading ability and two-footed ruthlessness in front of goal. Even more remarkable was that the striker agreed to make the switch from Chelsea to Nottingham at the peak of his career.

In 1946.47, Lawton had scored 26 goals in 34 league games, but had struggled to settle in London and came into conflict with Chelsea manager Billy Birrell. This led to a transfer request and a move to Meadow Lane, where he was lured by Notts boss Arther Stollery, who had previously held the position of physiotherapist at Stamford Bridge.

At the time of his arrival in 1947, County were seen as an unfashionable lower-league outfit but that image was transformed as soon as Lawton walked through the gates. Prior to his November debut, home gates had hovered around the 20,000 mark but soon swelled into 30,000 and even 40,000-plus crowds.

The Nottingham public were not disappointed as the icon scored 103 goals in 166 appearances for the club over five seasons, during which time Notts were promoted to Division Two in 1950. By this time, Lawton had lost his place in the England team, despite netting 22 goals in 23 appearances, due to the electors unwilling to persist with a player out of touch with top-flight football.

Fans of the 'Lawton Era' are united in their choice of their favourite finish - a bullet header against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, which helped to secure a 2-1 league victory in 1949. Supporters will also remember his four goals in the club's record victory - an 11-1 triumph over Newport County.

Although linked with a transfer back to the top flight, Lawton moved to Brentford of the Second Division and later became player-boss at Griffin Park. However, he finished his professional playing career at First Division Arsenal, before switching to Kettering Town as player-manager.

It was as a manager that Lawton returned to Meadow Lane, after leading Kettering to the Southern League championship. He spent a season in charge of the Magpies but later spent time running the Magna Carta pub in Lowdham, Nottingham, as well as taking on further roles as coach, chief scout and, during the 1980s, took on a popular football column in the Nottingham Post.

Lawton sadly passed away in 1996 but his ashes remain on display at the National Football Museum. His son, Tommy Junior, was present to accept his father's place in the Hall of Fame on 11 January 2014.

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