Born: January 1, 1932;

Died: May 23, 2021.

FRANK Mooney, who has died aged 89, was a talented footballer who represented Scotland several times in youth internationals before enjoying a professional career, mostly in England, where he played nearly 200 games.

He joined Manchester United as an 18-year-old in 1950 and signed professional, having been invited to Old Trafford by the manager, Matt Busby, for a month’s training the previous summer. He remained with United until 1954.

Given his youth, the intense competition for places, and the interruption of two years’ National Service in the RAF in Rhodesia, it was hardly surprising that Frank did not reach the first team, but he thoroughly enjoyed his time there.

His team-mates included such later well-known names as Mark Jones and Roger Byrne, who were both victims in the 1958 Munich air disaster. He also shared digs at one time with another three of the Munich victims – David Pegg, Liam (Billy) Whelan and Eddie Colman.

After Old Trafford, he moved on to Blackburn Rovers, Carlisle United and, finally, Berwick Rangers, where he played nine games before retiring in 1960.

Although not a household name in Scotland, Frank was one of many highly regarded Scots then playing in England. Mostly fielded as a winger, and occasionally at centre forward, he was pacy and a good crosser of the ball with an eye for goal. Later in life he fulfilled a long-held ambition to become a teacher, latterly teaching in Livingston.

Frank Mooney was the second youngest of six children born to John, a miner, and Mary, née Regan. He was brought up in Fauldhouse, where he attended St John’s primary school before going to St Mary’s Academy, Bathgate. His elder brother, John, also became a professional footballer, with Doncaster Rovers.

At St Mary’s Frank was both academically bright and a gifted young sportsman, starring for the football team and winning County Schools’ sprint titles. His talent was noted and in October 1948 he made a winning debut for Scotland in a youth international at Aberdeen against England, whose team included the future celebrated cricketer, Brian Close.

Next he represented Scottish Schools against the A.T.C. and played in further youth internationals against Wales and Ireland and in an international tournament in Holland.

His team-mates included Ronnie Simpson, who would win the European Cup with Celtic, and Tom Sutherland of Rangers, who would become an American academic; his kidnap in Beirut in 1985 and subsequent six years as a hostage were widely publicised.

Proud of his Scotland appearances, Frank insisted on keeping his last international jersey, unwashed, as a memento.

Though he never quite made the breakthrough at Manchester United, he did at least play in a first-team friendly in February 1953, which was significant as not only did he score a hat trick but his captain was United legend Johnny Carey, who made Frank his first signing on becoming manager of Blackburn Rovers.

In February 1954 Frank played the first of 59 games for Rovers against Oldham in the old Second Division and helped the team to third place in the league. In season 1954/55 he memorably notched a hat-trick in Rovers’ 9-0 demolition of Middlesbrough as the team finished sixth after scoring a record 114 goals.

Although he was a regular first-team player the side’s poor start the next season, combined with the emergence of international right-winger Bryan Douglas, limited his appearances and he played his last game in March 1956. While at Ewood Park, Frank played in good company, alongside Ally MacLeod, the future Scotland manager, and internationals Ronnie Clayton and Bill Eckersley, in front of average crowds of 27,000.

He next joined Carlisle United then in the old Third Division [North] where he remained until 1960, playing 137 games, alongside English international Ivor Broadis and latterly under former Scotland manager Andy Beattie.

After nine games for Berwick Rangers in the old Scottish Second Division, he retired from football as family life took priority.

In 1960, at St John the Baptist Church, Fauldhouse, Frank married Mary Warrington.They had known each other since schooldays and while Frank was playing football, Mary worked as a midwife in Canada.

On her return she became a district nurse and they began married life in Bathgate before moving to Fauldhouse, where they remained. Frank was employed at Plessey’s Bathgate factory where he became Production Control Manager.

The couple enjoyed nearly forty years of happy marriage until Mary’s death in 1999. They had a daughter, Susan, and son, Francis.

Having always valued education highly, he fulfilled his ambition to become a teacher, attending Callendar Park Teacher College at Falkirk and graduating with distinction in 1982. After an initial spell in Fauldhouse, he taught at Harrysmuir Primary in Livingston, retiring in 1996.

He then enjoyed a family holiday to Los Angeles, visiting Francis at home there. He and Mary also enjoyed trips throughout Scotland.

He was President of Fauldhouse Miners’ Youth Band and oversaw their rise from Grade IV to Grade I, including competing at the National Championships in London’s Royal Albert Hall. Religion was important to him and he regularly attended his local St John Baptist Church.

His family was uppermost in his life – he doted on his grandson, Michael, while football remained an abiding interest. A modest, kindly individual with a good sense of humour, who always looked out for people, he was widely considered a complete gentleman. He is survived by his children and grandson.