1932 – 2021
We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Frank Mooney at the age of 89. Frank passed away at the Crofthead Nursing Home, in his native Fauldhouse, on Sunday 23rd May 2021. Frank was the last surviving member of the famous forward line that scored 114 League goals for Rovers during the 1954-55 season.
A native of Fauldhouse, West Lothian in Scotland, Frank, who was a Scottish youth international, had signed for Manchester United in 1949. However, National Service, spent with the RAF in Rhodesia, had meant limited opportunities for him until he returned to England. His older brother John, was also a professional footballer in England, playing with Doncaster Rovers and prior to that had played with Hamilton Academicals.
It was at Old Trafford that Frank would find himself coming into contact with Johnny Carey, the man who would bring him to Ewood Park. Whilst Carey was approaching the end of his playing career, Frank was just starting out and the two did appear together in a friendly match, at the Cliff training ground against Northern Nomads, in December 1952 when Frank hit at hat-trick.
Whilst Frank languished in the reserves at Old Trafford, Carey hung up his boots to become manager of Blackburn Rovers in June 1953.
Frank joined Rovers in February 1954 as Carey attempted to fill what had become a problem position at outside-right. Having made his debut against Oldham Athletic, in February 1954, Frank became the automatic first choice for the position and proved to be a key component in the most prolific forward line that the club has produced.
The 1954-55 campaign produced goals galore as Rovers front five remained virtually unchanged for a whole season and netted 114 League goals. Frank, along with Bobby Langton was an ever-present whilst Tommy Briggs missed one League game and Eddie Crossan and Eddie Quigley two each. All five reached double figures in terms of goals with Frank contributing sixteen from the right-wing. He also provided plenty of assists with his pace and ability to deliver an accurate cross proving an invaluable weapon for Carey’s side.
Frank was the baby of that forward line with the other four approaching the end of their playing careers. Langton, Crossan and Quigley would leave Ewood at the end of the 1955-56 campaign whilst Briggs would be phased out during the 1957-58 campaign. It was, therefore, something of a surprise that Frank, a mere youngster in comparison with the others, should be the first to fall from favour in terms of first team selection.
When the Rovers lost their opening two games of the 1955-56 season, Frank was the only one of the front five to be axed. He became a regular with the reserve team but his only other first team appearance came as a stand-in for Bobby Langton against Port Vale on 24th March 1956. The emergence of Bryan Douglas, in the outside-right position, meant that there was no way back for Frank. Having been transfer-listed, he moved north to Carlisle United in May 1956.
At Brunton Park, Frank found the regular first team football that he had sought since being deposed by Douglas at Ewood Park.
Frank made his debut for Carlisle against Oldham Athletic on 18th August 1956 at Brunton Park and ended the campaign with ten goals from 36 appearances in the Third Division North. In total he scored 25 goals from 136 League and Cup appearances for the Cumbrian club before he left at the end of the 1959-60 season.
Frank ended his playing career with a season in Scottish football at Berwick Rangers but only made nine League appearances for the club during the 1960-61 season.
Frank returned to West Lothian and became the manager of an electronics firm in Bathgate before embarking on further education and entering a teacher training college which resulted in him becoming a teacher for the remainder of his working life. The Blackburn Rovers Former Players Association wish to express their deepest sympathy to Frank’s family and friends at this sad time.