Tuesday, 29 May 2012

'Big Frank' Swift

Big Frank - the story of Manchester City and England keeper Frank Swift who died at Munich.
Out in 2013. 

Frank Swift is one of the greatest English goalkeeper’s of all time. A League, FA Cup and Charity Shield winner with Manchester City, he represented his country on 33 occasions between 1941 and 1949.

At 6’ 2”, and with massive hands, Blackpool born Swift made it his business to dominate the penalty area in a constant battle with some of the games most feared forwards such as Dixie Dean, Tommy Lawton and Billy Liddell.

Although often injured, and on many occasions knocked unconscious, Swift, signed from Fleetwood Town, was fearless and unmoveable in the City goal, playing all but one of over 200 games from the day of his debut, December 25 1933, up to the start of World War Two.

By then he had won the League in 1936-37, three years after fainting at the end of the 1934 FA Cup Final victory against Portsmouth, 2-1. Revived, the emotionally drained youngster then marched up the Wembley steps to be congratulated by the King who told him “well done, you played well.”

Debuting for England during the war he was a member of the X1 that thrashed Scotland 8-0 at Maine Road in 1943, a side, containing Matthews, Carter, Mercer and Cullis that Swift rated as the finest he ever played with. When competitive football resumed, Swift, who was popular with crowds everywhere for his willingness to banter with them, was a regular between the posts for England. In 1948 he was honoured by becoming the first keeper since 1873 to captain his country when he played brilliantly in one of the countries greatest ever performances, a 4-0 success against Italy in Turin.

After helping Manchester City to regain their place in the top flight by winning Division Two in 1946-47, Swift - by now a brilliant distributor of the ball with both feet and hands - retired two seasons later after playing 376 games for the club, a figure which would have been many more if not for the War.

Successful on the pitch, ‘big Frank’, always cheerful away from it, became a big success
off it with a career in journalism at the News of the World. Flying home, with ex team mate Matt Busby, after covering the Red Star Belgrade – Manchester United European cup-tie he was one of eight journalists tragically killed at Munich in February 1958.

Forty years later in 1998, Swift was one of four Manchester City legends named in the Football League 100 legends selected to celebrate 100 seasons of League football. Long gone - but never forgotten - it was a wonderful honour for a great man and a great goalkeeper. Now in the first biography to be written on him, readers will get a chance to discover more about the keeper and his exploits.

Manchester City 1936-37 

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