(First posted on Facebook, March 17th, 2016)
Happy Birthday Frank who will be 60 today. Frank was always a bit of an enigma, once he got the ball you just didn’t know what he was going to do with it but credit to him whether he twisted left or to the right or fall on his face, he did have an eye for goal as I’m sure St. Mirren and Celtic fans will testify.
Frank had been signed to St. Mirren by no less a man than Alex Ferguson and it would be Bob Paisley at Liverpool who would fork out £270,000 for him in 1979. Frank would be at Liverpool for less than a year before coming back up to Scotland to play for Celtic for the same fee.
However, although he never played in a League game for the Anfield club, he did gain two Scotland caps as a Liverpool player under another managing legend Jock Stein. He made the briefest of appearances (89th minute) in a Home International match against Northern Ireland in May 1979 at Hampden, coming on for Arthur Graham of Leeds United who had scored the only goal of the game.
He would get to start in a game a fortnight later as a young precocious Maradona ran riot at the legendary game at Hampden, where Argentina won 3-1 and Diego announced his arrival on the World scene with a dazzling display. Once more Arthur Graham would provide Scotland‘s only goal.
So that was it for Frank for over four years until he was recalled to face South American opposition once more in September, 1983 lining up alongside Kenny Dalglish in attack against Uruguay. However, Frank was injured and taken off after only 17 minutes and replaced by Davie Dodds (is elephant man) of Dundee United. John Robertson would open the scoring with a penalty and Frank’s replacement would score in the second half as the Scots won 2-0.
For Frank though this was actually the start of a run of five games in a row. Next up Frank played against Belgium in a Euro Qualifier in October at Hampden coming on as a sub for Charlie Nicholas in the 74th minute. It was Nicholas who scored Scotland’s goal as they drew 1-1.
Scotland were already well out of contention when they faced East Germany in their final group game in the Kurt Wabbel Stadion in Halle. The Scots lost 2-0 with Frank coming on for Paul McStay in the second half as they chased goals with a 2-0 deficit by half time. Eamonn Bannon of Dundee United would pull one back in the 78th minute and that would end the scoring.
Home International action against Northern Ireland followed in December, which saw the Scots lose 2-0 and Frank come off for Mark McGhee of Aberdeen in 60 minutes.
It is obvious that Jock was looking for his next main striker and he would find it, in his next game but unfortunately for Frank as he left the field at half time at Hampden in February 1984 with the Scots leading 1-0 through a Davie Cooper penalty, it would be the last International action he would see. The player who replaced him and the scorer of the winning goal that night as Scotland won 2-1 was no less a player than Maurice Johnston, then of Watford.
Frank of course would go on to play for Celtic for another year or so before heading back down to Love Street way and a return to St. Mirren.
The picture is possibly of the away strip for the 1978 World Cup; I have no idea why Frank is wearing it and the context of this photo, however it is a cracker. Happy Birthday Frank.