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Frank Joyner

Francis McNab Joyner, footballer; born, St Andrews, Fife, 20 August, 1918, died; Paisley 25 April, 1997

FRANCIS (Frank) Joyner, who has died aged 78, was a remarkable footballer of yesteryear, whose career with 14 British clubs was interrupted by war service in France and Burma, where he reached the rank of Army Captain. Born in St Andrews and brought up in the neighbouring village of Strathkinnes, Frank was a pupil at Madras College, where he was athletics champion. His soccer career took off on a Saturday afternoon in 1934. After playing rugby for Madras he went to spectate at a St Andrews University v Lochgelly Albert junior match. St Andrews United were a player short, Frank was invited to play and scored three goals! He played trials for several clubs including Dundee and Hamilton, and at the age of 18, signed for Raith Rovers to become part of a legend-ary team which won prom-otion and achieved a goalscoring record which remains unbeaten. Raith won a promotion to the First League, and the team of 1937-38 set up a record aggregate for the season of 142 league goals. In April, 1938, aged 19, Frank was transferred to Sheffield United for a then substantial fee of #1650. When war broke out he joined the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and when stationed at East Kilbride, guested for Third Lanark. A return with his regiment to the London area gave Frank the chance to guest for Chelsea. He fought in France, behind German lines, later returning to East Anglia where he guested for Norwich City, and in December 1940 married Gwen Lewis in Tinsley Church, at Tinsley, Sheffield. His next posting was to India, where his soccer skills were still in demand. For more than two years he served in the Burma jungle, taking part in numerous missions, setting up a battle school and achieving the rank of Captain. In 1944 - he was summoned from the jungle to Delhi and asked to create a football team to entertain the British forces in outlying areas - the Inter Services Sports Touring Circus was formed. Frank had star footballers to pick from - including Tommy Walker of Hearts; Ted Ditchburn, Spurs; Dennis Compton and other internationalists. Known throughout the command as ''Joyner's Football Circus'', the team travelled from camp to camp playing representative sides. Delhi, Calcutta, Trincomalee, Galle Face, Ranchi, Chittagong, wherever they played they proved unbeatable. The scheme was reckoned a success - boosting morale as the forces could identify with ''Saturday afternoons back home'' with a bit more thrown in. Frank also played for the Indian Crescent Club, and was eventually selected to play for the Indian FA against Afghanistan. He scored two goals to clinch the game for India. The opposition centre half was duly impressed - to the extent he wanted to have Frank return to Afghanistan to play here. The seriousness of the invitation was apparent when the centre half's identity was revealed - as the Royal Prince Faruk of Afghanistan. Frank politely declined. On his return from India in March 1946, Frank signed for Dundee. He was transferred to Raith Rovers and was with them on March 12, 1949, when Raith reached the final of the Scottish League Cup. Their opponents at Hampden Park: Rangers. Rangers won 2-0. Frank was later transferred to Hamilton Accies, played for then Southern League team, Kettering Town and also Falkirk, Forfar and Stirling Albion - one of two teams in later years he also managed. A prolific goal-scorer, the outside left had gained a promotion hat trick, helping three separate clubs to achieve league promotion when he played for them, Raith Rovers, Sheffield United and Dundee. He retired from active football life to become a successful sports writer and businessman. He was also Group Scoutmaster of the 121 (Clarkston) Boy Scouts for several years, and since 1973 Frank was a member of Glasgow Rotary Club. Golf became his main sporting ''passion'', and he was a past member of a number of clubs including Cathcart Castle, Eastwood, and Pollok, Glasgow, and also at his beloved St Andrews. In recent years Frank, and his wife, Gwen, have lived in retirement in Newton Mearns, Glasgow. In the final few months of his life, the sporting star who always had a smile on his face, sadly was overcome by dementia. He died in Dykebar Hospital, Paisley. Frank is survived by his wife, Gwen; son, Bob; daughter, Wendy: grandchildren Dorothy, Derek, Gayle and Mark, and great-granddaughter Megan.

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