Rangers player and policeman

Born: April 13, 1936;

Died: June 18, 2017

ALBERT Franks, who has died aged 81, was a former footballer, best-known in Scotland for a short spell with Rangers.

More than 25 years before “the Souness Revolution” which supposedly introduced the concept of English players moving to Ibrox, Franks did just that, Scot Symon paying £6500 to take wing-half (as midfielders were then known) from Newcastle United to the Glasgow club in March, 1960. He is believed to have been the first English player to play for the club.

The move was not a success, with Franks playing a mere three games for the club. He made his debut in a 2-0 Ibrox loss to Motherwell on 18 April, 1960, when he was voted Man of the Match. He made his second appearance on 27 April, a 4-1 loss to Clyde at Shawfield, then made his third and last appearance, in the final game of that season, a 2-1 Ibrox loss to Third Lanark, on 7 May.

The following season, he moved to Morton, but this proved as unhappy as his time at Ibrox; he only played 13 games for the club and Franks returned to England, to Lincoln City. He also had a short spell back in Scotland with Queen of the South, for whom he made 10 appearances.

From a coal-mining background, he was born in the Durham pit village of Boldon Colliery, playing for the local Boldon Colliery Welfare team, from whom he joined Newcastle United in 1953. His career at St James' Park was interrupted by two years of national service in the RAF, during which he captained the RAF team, and he did not make the first of his 75 appearances for the Magpies until 1956.

Famous for his long throw-ins – he would practise using a medicine ball - he was a regular member of a very good Newcastle side. He was in the reserves when they won the FA Cup in 1955 and when he broke through to the big team, his team mates included Gallowgate legends such as Ronnie Simpson, Jimmy Scoular and Bob Stokoe – he once broke up a training ground between the two by sitting on Scoular – Jackie Milburn, Ivor Allchurch and Bobby Mitchell, but fell out of favour when Charlie Mitten became manager, and he was sold to Rangers.

Self-depreciating, Franks would reel off the internationalists in the Magpies teams of the time, then ad: “Guess who was the worst player in the side”.

There was also a short spell as player-manager with Scarborough, before he hung up his boots and quit football, aged only 29.

Franks's mother had been a Methodist lay preacher who instilled great discipline in himr. He had been a police cadet when he joined Newcastle, and it was to the force that he returned after his football career ended, re-joining the Durham Constabulary.

He served in the police force for 22 years, mainly as a detective at Chester-le-Street, earning 13 commendations before he retired. He then became an international retail security expert, prior to retiring to the small village of Vigo, near Birtley in Co. Durham.

Franks was an all-round sportsman, captaining both the Durham County football and cricket teams at school and, as a player with Boldon, scoring what was then the fastest century in the history of the Durham Coast League.

In an interview in 2008, Franks recalled the day he was signed by Newcastle. "Quite a few clubs had been interested," he said. "It was a Sunday and my mother was a Methodist preacher. I had to ask her if it was all right to sign on the Sabbath."

His Methodist background may also help explain his lifelong teetotalism, which was and is a rarity among footballers. "I still socialised, " he said. "The lads would try to get me to have a pint, but I'd just invite them to try what I was having instead. I smelled beer once and it was disgusting. I certainly didn't want it in my mouth."

Franks recalled that Rangers paid £6,500 for him, more than twice what he had paid for his first house. "Most people were very friendly," he said. "I was even made president of one of the branches of the supporters' association. I suppose the only time I didn't get on with the other players was the Monday morning in training after England had beaten Scotland at Wembley. All I did was keep on telling them I wouldn't mention the match."

Of his time in the police force, he said: "I'd always had an investigative mind, I loved detective work. I could maybe have been a sergeant, but I didn't want to wear a pointy hat."

Albert Franks was pre-deceased by Heather, his wife and is survived by his daughter Glenda and grand-children Aidan and Hannah.