Salford born inside forward Stan Pearson began his football career with Adelphi Lads Club before signing for Second Division Manchester United in December 1935 as an amateur, turning professional in May 1937. He made his Football League debut at Chesterfield in November 1937 in a 7-1 victory, scoring his first goal a week later in a 3-1 home victory over Aston Villa, but it wasn’t until the start of the 1939-40 season that he was a first team regular, starting each of the first 3 matches in the abandoned season due to the outbreak of the Second World War, by when he had scored 5 goals in 24 appearances.
When his career was interrupted by the War, he served with the 2nd/4th Lancashires. After the War he helped United to win the 1948 FA Cup, in which he scored 8 goals during the Cup run including scoring in the Final in a 4-2 win over Blackpool, and 1952 League Championship, when he missed only one game and scored a career best 22 League goals. When he left United in 1953 he had scored 149 career goals (good for 9th in the club’s history) in 346 appearances, just two goals behind Ruud van Nistelrooy. During his time at Manchester United, he scored five hat-tricks; four in the League and one in the FA Cup. in the 1948 FA Cup semi-final he scored all the goals when United won 3-1 against Derby County at Hillsborough. His first hat-trick came in the 5-0 victory over Liverpool in September 1946 occurred at Maine Road (due to bomb damage to Old Trafford), and would be the last hat-trick by a Manchester United player against the Anfield club until September 2010, when Bulgarian Dimitar Berbatov scored all three of United’s goals in a 3-2 league win at Old Trafford.
He made his England debut in a 2-0 victory over Scotland at Hampden Park in April 1948, and a month later went on England B’s summer tour, scoring in a B international win over Switzerland. He won 7 further England caps, scoring 5 goals, between October 1948 and May 1952, including both goals in a 2-1 victory over Scotland at Hampden Park in April 1952.
Pearson joined Bury in February 1954 and went on to average more than one goal every two games in three and a half years at Bury, scoring 57 goals in 128 appearances, before his playing career ended with two years at Chester from October 1957 to 1959. At 40 years, 101 days, Pearson remains the oldest player to make a Football League appearance for the club when he played his final match against Crewe Alexandra on 22nd April 1959.
Upon his retirement, Pearson was a popular appointment as Chester manager in April 1959 after John Harris moved to Sheffield United. Despite making signings such as his former Manchester United colleague Frank Clempson, Chester struggled during Pearson’s reign in charge. After finishing 20th and 24th in successive Division Four seasons, Pearson left the club following a 1-0 FA Cup home defeat to non-league Morecambe in November 1961.