‘Every time I spoke to Frank I would always learn something new about local football’

By Terry Ainsworth

I was very fortunate to meet Frank Parkinson late in life as he contacted me after visiting my exhibition of football photographs in the Lancaster Reference Library about a decade ago.We often talked in his house on Chequers Avenue about his early life in Lancaster, football and what a fascinating story it was.

Frank was born on October 28, 1930 and sadly died on June 2 . Every time I spoke to Frank on my visits I would always learn something new about local football. He was a mine of information to anyone like me who is passionate about the history of the game. The first time we see Frank is as a pupil at Scotforth School where he played as a goalkeeper on the Easter Field.

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It was estimated that 15,000 people were present on the Giant Axe on Easter Monday for the William Smith Festival in March 1940. Probably the most interesting and enjoyable part of the festival was the football competition.

The junior competition which produced keen rivalry among the boys started at 9.30am and each game lasted for 16 minutes.

The final of this competition was a real ding-dong battle between St Peter’s and Scotforth.

They were very evenly matched with sound defences.

As there was no decision at the end of 16 minutes extra time had to be played and finally St Peter’s were victorious by one goal, two corners, to Scotforth’s one goal.

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The referees for both the senior and junior competitions were Mr Sam Price and Mr G Miller.

All Lancastrians were proud to be associated with Waring & Gillow which was a noted firm of English furniture manufacturers formed in 1897 by the merger of Gillow of Lancaster and Waring of Liverpool.

During the Second World War the factory produced parts for gliders and the Mosquito aircraft, while kit-bags, tents and camouflage nets were made by the upholstery department.

Waring & Gillow, Oxford Street Branch, London paid a goodwill visit to Lancaster in March 1950.

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They met Warison’s (Waring & Gillow, Lancaster) in a friendly match at Cork Road and won by three goals to two.

Frank was a skilled cabinet maker for Waring & Gillows and it is easy to imagine pieces that Frank created would be worth many thousands of pounds now.

Tommy Mulroy opened the scoring for Lancaster with a fine shot that gave the London goalkeeper no chance.

The visitors equalised from a penalty and went ahead with a picture goal to give them a half-time lead of 2-1.

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Shortly after the restart Oxford Street scored a further goal to widen the margin to 3-1. Towards the end of the match, with the heavier side tiring, the home side applied greater pressure and before the final whistle Frank Parkinson scored to reduce the arrears although on balance a draw would have been a fair result.

It seems to me Frank left the world a better place and always looked for the best in others.

I will remember this wonderful gentleman with the words of a poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye called, Do not stand at my grave and weep.

“I am a thousand winds that blow,

“I am the diamond glints on snow,

“I am the sun on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain”.

Rest in peace Frank I will never forget you especially in the autumn rain on a football field.