By Brian Hall
Monday 14 Nov 2011 17:47:00
Browse all Brian Hall articles




The lyrics can occasionally be heard blasting out of some  obscure, remote village pub, to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory, ( far more inspiring too that that Last Night of the Proms dirge) , as Mag buses land somewhere before or after an away match in the Deep South. It is even heard in the Irish Club near the ground if characters stay there after the match a wee bit too long. The words clearly indicate that everybody's Fatha knew Frank, and Frank knew aal their Fathas, and Clarkie knew aal them. Older Mags know all about the man who wore the Number 3 shirt for the Mags for 460 games. Many of the younger elements of the NUFC tribe join the singing, although a canny few of them probably did not know who they are singing about.



So, who was this man? Obviously, our left back for many years. Born in the Gill - or Rowlands Gill, if you prefer -he started his career at Crook, before becoming a regular feature of life at SJP until 1975. Frank has an obvious claim to fame - he is  in our proud elite. An owner of a Fairs Cup medal, when he held his own alongside Captain Bob Moncur et al in the greatest European triumph the world has ever seen. OK. A canny long time ago, but we  dont care - he was part of that team, and that ensures him a solid place in NUFC history.


In that long-gone era, he had a kind of cult status. The most obvious example of this surely occurred in the pitch invasion in a home League Cup match against the mighty Doncaster Rovers. I have to state that I was there, and even more so, admit that I was involved in the wild pitch invasion itself sparked off from the Leazes End. It should be stressed though that the mood was far from ugly - it was simply a celebration that Frank has scored - he never scored. We were actually 4-1 up, or was it 5? A mate of mine told me the other week that he heard it on the radio, and the commentator went berserk, noting that the Doncaster players were utterly baffled. They were, as half of our team and a canny few Leazes lads jumped on Frankie.


Despite his cult status, however, our Number 3 used to get some stick and abuse from the fans - admission time again for me, as I was part of that element. He had an annoying habit of jockeying against a winger - refusing to put in a tackle, backing away from a right winger, whilst shadowing him. Looking back, perhaps he was simply ahead of his time on that tactic, but it totally backfired on one occasion against a Man United player. There again, it was George Best, so it would have been a bit harsh to have shouted Get Stuck In, Man, in that game.


Frank eventually left Toon in 1975, and typically, in terms of our history, found himself in the great Brian Clough team at Nottingham Forest, won a Title medal, and added a European Cup one to his collection. He did commit some crimes along the way - assistant manager of Sunderland for a short while, and in his role as representative of the League Managers Union, defended Little Sam when we finally got rid of  him. He was also guilty, whilst a manager of Notts Forest in selling Stan Collymore to the Red Scousers in 1995. Stan the Man went on to score for that lot in the 4-3 victory in 1996 in injury time, thus putting another heavy nail into our title push coffin when we came so close under the Keegan Entertainers.


Not to worry. Frank reappeared in the Sunday Sun recently, named in our best Eleven of all time. I disagreed with that, but did not really mind. All in all,, I remain convinced of  one thing of a bloke who never forgot his roots - even as a footballer in the East Midlands, he used to return every summer to play cricket for Lintz up North West Durham. I am sure that he is proud of the only medal worth winning. That Fairs Cup one when the Mags went marching in.


Frank Clark knew my Fatha,  Fatha Knew Frank Clark.



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