Francis John “Frank” Harrison was born in Gateshead but his family moved to Hull in the mid 1930s. He impressed as a youngster during the closing stages of World War 2, being regularly selected for the East Riding Schoolboys team and twice being capped by England’s Youth XI. Those caps came in 1949 at the age of 17, shortly after he had signed amateur terms for the Tigers. His first cap came against Austria during an April tournament in Holland, while his second cap came in May 1949 against Ireland at Hull City’s newly completed Boothferry Park stadium, a tie in which Harrison’s was bestowed the honour of captaining his country. Harrison thus came to the attention of the Hull public at a young age, his fine tackling ability being matched with a desire to receive the ball and start attacks from a wide defensive position, not a common trait amongst full backs in the 1940s.
His footballing apprenticeship and his National Service conspired to mean Harrison didn’t sign full time professional terms until February 1952, having signed part-time terms three years earlier immediately after his England Youth team caps. He made his first team debut for the Tigers in September 1952, the same day that record appearance maker Andy Davidson made his bow. City were still reeling from the resignation of Raich Carter as City manager and the subsequent relegation fight that the Tigers won once Raich returned to the club in a playing capacity. City had appointed Bob Jackson as their new manager, a man who had piloted Portsmouth to two league titles in recent years and whose pedigree was impeccable. Jackson initially used the young Harrison as a half back but competition in those positions was strong and his appearances were infrequent. It wasn’t until the early weeks of the 1953/54 season that Harrison was moved to his favoured right full back position, selected ahead of experienced Tynesider Ernie Phillips, and Harrison made the position his own – he missed only three of 66 senior matches between September 1953 and December 1954. In a match against Leeds United in December 1954 Harrison broke his leg in two places, an injury that kept him out of the game for 15 months. By the time he returned to action in February 1956 Jackson had left the club and Bob Brocklebank was the City manager. By April 1956 Brocklebank was again entrusting the right back role to Harrison on a regular basis and Frank missed only three games in the 1956/57 season as City adjusted to life back in Division Three North after relegation in May 1956.
Harrison missed the first three months of the 1957/58 season but returned to the first team and commenced another consistent run that saw him miss only four of the 88 senior fixtures between December 1957 and October 1959, helping the Tigers to promotion back to the Second Division in May 1959. However as the 1960s began Harrison was competing with his old contemporary Andy Davidson for the right full back shirt, it was Jock who prevailed and Frank started only four more matches in February 1960 before leaving the club that summer.
In July 1960, with league clubs apparently unwilling to raise the £3,500 price tag City had put on Harrison’s head, he made the adventurous decision to move to Southern League side Margate on the North Kent coast. Regarded as a star signing by the Margate board, Harrison’s time in Kent was short lived and unhappy as an ankle injury sustained after only six appearances ended his tenure with the club and his time as a football professional. He returned to the Hull area and managed Bridlington Trinity during the 1962/63 season. He worked in a bank in York for two decades, perhaps making use of his multi-lingual fluency in French and German, before tragically dying in the Acomb district of York in November 1981, nine days before his 50th birthday.
Date/Place of Birth: 12 November 1931, Gateshead
Hull City First Game: 8 September 1952, Blackburn Rovers A (Division Two), 20 years, 301 days old
Hull City Final Game: 27 February 1960, Lincoln City A (Division Two), 28 years, 107 days old
Hull City (1949-1960), Margate (1960)
Hull City Record
Career: 214 apps, 0 goalsFrank Harrison