Frank McPherson
Frank McPherson
Frank McPherson
● Frank McPherson, 1922 (PIC)

born in England

Francis Comber McPherson was born on Tuesday, 14th May, 1901, in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

The 5' 8½ (10st 9lbs) forward signed for George Easton's Thistle on Friday, 18th April, 1919, having most recently been with Barrow Shipbuilders.

Aged 17, he made his only appearance on Saturday, 19th April, 1919, in a 1-1 draw away to St Mirren in the Scottish Football League.

There were no goals for Frank in his one-off appearance for Thistle.

His club-list included Barrow Shipbuilders, Partick Thistle, Chesterfield Municipal, Barrow, Manchester United, Manchester Central, Watford and Reading.

Frank died on Thursday, 5th March, 1953, in Daveyhulme, Greater Manchester, aged 51.

Bio Extra

Born in Barrow-in-Furness to parents from Aberdeen, the teenage Frank worked as a ship plater for Vickers and played football for the works team, Barrow Shipbuilders. He was one of three footballing brothers, the others being William and John, who were all raised on Barrow Island and represented the Barrow Island Boys team. John played for Barrow AFC in the Munitions League season of 1917-18, whilst Frank and William, who were both ship's platers by trade, would make their debuts the following season for the Barrow Shipbuilders team.

Work brought the untried youngster northwards and, in April 1919, he signed as an amateur for Thistle. In what was a great Thistle team (they were 4th in the League that term), it was always going to be difficult for an emerging 17-year-old to breakthrough, and, for whatever reason, his stay in Scotland proved to be temporary with Frank featuring just once in the first team. All the same, it would have been a memorable experience for him to have played first class football in front of 7,000 people.

Frank returned to Barrow Shipbuilders and played in their 1919–20 FA Cup Preliminary Round defeat to Kells White Star; however, in October 1919, he was signed by Midland League club Chesterfield Municipal, who – either ignoring his cup-tied status or unaware of it entirely – gave him his debut in their FA Cup second qualifying round match against South Normanton Colliery on 25 October; starting at centre-forward, he scored twice as Chesterfield won 5–0. After the match, South Normanton submitted an appeal to The Football Association that McPherson should not have been allowed to play, resulting in Chesterfield being disqualified from the competition and McPherson being banned for a month. Chesterfield manager Tom Callaghan protested that he was unaware that McPherson had already played in the FA Cup that season, but McPherson maintained that he had told his manager he was not available for selection. Callaghan offered McPherson £5 to retract that claim, as well as ordering club captain Peter Irvine to back him up; however, he was found out and sacked from his position, never for the football world to hear from him again!

After a couple of years at Chesterfied, Frank made his Barrow AFC debut on 26th February 1921 against Chorley and went on to make 12 appearances and score 11 goals as Barrow won the Lancashire Combination title and became founder members of Division Three North. Frank would make a further 63 appearances and score 4 goals before moving onwards… and upwards!

Frank joined Manchester United in May 1923 for a fee of £500, making his first-team debut as an outside left in the first game of the 1923–24 season against Bristol City on 25 August. He played in all but eight games in his first season with Manchester United, including two appearances in the FA Cup, his two goals coming in consecutive matches – one against Bradford City in the league on 5 January 1924, and one against Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup on 12 January. All of his games that season were played at outside left, except the final two games of the season against The Wednesday, which he played at centre-forward. Frank was a big hit at Old Trafford, scoring 45 League goals in 159 appearances between 1923 and 1928.

After a brief stint with Lancashire Combination side Manchester Central at the start of the 1928–29 season, where he played 7 games, scoring 7 times, Frank was signed by Watford for £850 in September 1928. He made his Watford debut at home to Fulham on 29 September, scoring both goals in a 6–2 defeat, before scoring a further three goals in the next two games. Despite his prodigious start in a Watford shirt, he missed their next match at home to Luton Town, but then went on an eight-game run in which he scored a further eight goals, including a hat-trick at home to Southend United. The next match – away to Northampton Town on 22 December – was the last one Frank would miss all season, and after two further hat-tricks – away to Fulham on 9 February and at home to Walsall on 29 March – he finished the season with 33 goals in 33 league appearances, a club record that stood until Cliff Holton scored 42 goals in Watford's 1959–60 season, in which they achieved promotion from the Fourth Division.

Frank was ever-present for the first 23 games of the 1929–30 season, and by 26 December, he had scored 22 of Watford's 29 total goals up to that point; Arthur Woodward (2) was the only other player to have scored more than once. The match against Torquay United on 28 December was Frank's first absence of the season. He made eight more appearances after his return, scoring three goals, before he was sold to Reading in February 1930 for a fee of £1,500 and George James in part-exchange.

After five seasons with Reading, Frank returned to Watford in June 1933. He began the 1933–34 season with a run of six games in the team, scoring twice, but then made just one appearance in the next three months. He then had a short spell back in the team, playing three games towards the end of December, but it did not last and he only made one more appearance before the end of the season, in the penultimate game against Swindon Town on 28 April 1934; Watford won 4–0 with Frank scoring twice. Although his first-team appearances decreased with age, Frank played with Watford until 1936.

After returning to the shipyards, Frank was offered the chance to train with the Barrow players as a means of "keeping fit" but eventually found himself back in first team action with a scoring return against Gateshead on 13th March 1937. Two more appearances followed with another goal to take Frank McPherson's Barrow total to 78 games and 17 goals. After his retirement from football, Frank became the licensee of the Greaves Arms Hotel in Oldham, a position he held until his sudden death in Davyhulme on 5 March 1953.


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