Bristol born outside right Alf Matthews began his football career with Parson Street Old Boys after the First World War before signing for hometown Second Division club Bristol City in 1921. He played regularly for The Robins’ reserve side in the Southern League, and won a Gloucestershire County cap, making his Football League debut and sole appearance for their first eleven against West Ham United that October. Released at the end of the season, Matthews signed for Exeter City in May 1922 and having made his debut at Brighton & Hove Albion in September in Exeter’s fourth match of the season, he was an ever present in the side after that not missing a game until the opening match of the following season. His best season for Exeter came in 1924-25, when he played in all 42 of their Third Division (South) matches, scoring five goals.
Matthews joined fellow Third Division (South) club Plymouth Argyle in March 1926 after 16 goals in 153 appearances for The Grecians and spent eight seasons at Home Park, scoring 5 goals in the run in to the 1925-26 season end as Plymouth finished League runners up. In his first full season he was an ever present as they once again finished runners up in the Third Division (South) for the sixth consecutive season (when only the Champions were promoted), and after third and fourth place finishes in the next two seasons, Matthews lost his regular place in The Pilgrims’ line up in September 1929 and only played 7 times as Argyle finally won the Third Division (South) Championship.
He continued as a fringe player at Home Park until the summer of 1933, when he left for Doncaster Rovers after 32 goals in 147 appearances, but his opportunities at Belle Vue proved just as limited and after a single season, having scored once in 8 appearances, he joined Crystal Palace in the 1934 close season. After failing to make the first eleven in 1934-35, he retired from professional football.