Frank Buckley (footballer)

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Frank Buckley
File:Major Frank Buckley.jpg
Personal information
Full name Franklin Charles Buckley
Date of birth (1882-11-09)9 November 1882
Place of birth Urmston, Lancashire, England
Date of death 21 December 1964(1964-12-21) (aged 82)
Place of death Walsall, West Midlands, England
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Playing position Defender
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1902–1904 Aston Villa 0 (0)
1904–1905 Brighton & Hove Albion ? (?)
1905–1906 Manchester United 3 (0)
1907–1908 Manchester City 11 (0)
1909–1913 Birmingham City 55 (4)
1913–1914 Derby County 92 (3)
1913–1914 Bradford City 4 (0)
1919–1920 Norwich City 1 (0)
National team
1914 England 1 (0)
Teams managed
1919–1920 Norwich City
1923–1927 Blackpool
1927–1944 Wolverhampton Wanderers
1944–1946 Notts County
1946–1948 Hull City
1948–1953 Leeds United
1953–1955 Walsall

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Franklin Charles Buckley (more commonly known as Major Frank Buckley) (3 October 1882 – 21 December 1964) was an English football player and, later, manager. He is the brother of Chris Buckley who played for Aston Villa.

Early life

Buckley was born in Urmston, Lancashire. He joined the army and bought himself out in 1902 to join a football club.

Playing career

He went from Aston Villa to Brighton to Manchester United and Manchester City all within six years and found something approaching stability only with Birmingham City, where he made 56 appearances. Soon after that he was on the move again, this time to Derby County. It was with the Rams that he gained his sole England cap, in 1914 in a shock 3–0 defeat by Ireland at Ayresome Park, before upping sticks, again, to join Bradford City; his stay in Yorkshire shortened by the start of World War I.

Managerial career

Introduction to management

Buckley went to war with the 17th Middlesex Regiment (where he commanded the Football Battalion) seeing action and receiving wounds to his lung and shoulder in the Battle of the Somme and rose to the rank of Major. On his return, he was appointed manager of Norwich City. The Canaries had been so debt-ridden that the receivers had wound the club up, but following an extraordinary general meeting, the club was resurrected and Buckley was placed in charge in February 1919 and returned the club to Southern League football. Despite retiring from playing during the war, Buckley played one game for Norwich in September 1919, when he was the club's secretary-manager.

Once again Buckley’s stay was short. By July 1920 he was gone, financial disputes precipitating a wholesale change of personnel.[1]


As a result, Buckley's influence on the rise of the Blackpool and Wolves sides of the 1950s, of the Leeds United 'club culture' of the 1960s and 1970s should never be understated. His principles may not have been adopted directly by Busby, Shankly, Clough and Ferguson but they were innovative principles that are quite commonplace now. Buckley's financial acumen may well have come from his stint as a travelling salesman in the early 1920s,[original research?] but he returned to football management with Blackpool on 6 October 1923, and it was there that Buckley’s ideas started to come to the fore. He was lured to Bloomfield Road with the promise of an extremely high salary and enough money to strengthen the squad. Buckley is credited with implementing a youth system and scouting scheme to the Seasiders.[2]

Despite a total change of tactics, Buckley did not have much more success with Blackpool than did his predecessor, Bill Norman. During the 1924–25 season, he sold established players such as Herbert Jones and Harry Bedford, which proved unpopular amongst the fans.[2]

As of 2013, Buckley is the eighth longest serving Blackpool manager in terms of Football League games in charge.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

In July 1927, Buckley took up an appointment with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Stan Cullis wrote of him: "I soon realised that Major Buckley was one out of the top drawer. He did not suffer fools gladly. His style of management in football was very similar to his attitude in the army. Major Buckley implanted into my mind the direct method of playing which did away with close interpassing and square-ball play. If you didn't like his style you'd very soon be on your bicycle to another club. He didn't like defenders over-elaborating in their defensive positions. Major Buckley also knew how to deal with the press." (Cullis, quoted in Taylor and Ward, 1995, pp. 31–2)[3]

Buckley's stay at Wolves can be taken two ways. On the face of it, he appeared to achieve only modest success with the club; they won the Division Two title in 1931–32 and finished runners-up in the Division One in 1937–38 and in both the First Division and the FA Cup the following season. An alternative view is that during his stay at Molineux, Buckley once made the club a £100,000 profit within one year, purely on transfer deals; he toyed, provocatively, with the media (instigating the empty rumour that his players were using a monkey gland treatment to aid performance), he used psychologists to instill confidence in his players and was responsible for bringing through Stan Cullis and offering Billy Wright a start in professional football.[4] After he had left the club, however, the full value of his vision, not least the Wolves youth programme, came to fruition and did so much to shape the Wolves side of the 1950s, when they won three Division One championships, twice won the FA Cup, and were one of few genuine challengers to the Busby Babes.

Buckley left Wolves in 1944 and another non-committal couple of years followed at Notts County (for a then-unheard-of £4,000 a year) and Hull City before starting work at Leeds United, where one of his first discoveries was John Charles just after Christmas 1948. He was not afraid to try all manner of ideas to induce the Elland Road club out of mediocrity: dancing songs broadcast through the public address system during training days, so-called 'shooting' boxes (a contraption designed to send the ball out at different speeds and angles to players), increasing admission costs, youth development programmes. John Charles did excel during the 1954–55 season but the team failed to respond in kind.[citation needed]

Managerial stats

League games only.
Team Nation From To Record
G W L D Win %
Norwich City England 1919 1920 43 15 11 17 34.9
Blackpool England 6 October 1923 c. 31 May 1927 160 66 36 58 41.25
Wolves England 1927 1944 681 281 136 264 41.26
Notts County England 1944 1946 ? ? ? ? ?
Hull City England 1946 1948 ? ? ? ? ?
Leeds United England 1948 1953 210 81 60 69 38.57
Walsall England 1953 1955 ? ? ? ? ?


Buckley, a stern disciplinarian throughout his career, earned devotion and affection, not least because he was also a 'tracksuit' manager. He brought in Jack Charlton, who had this to say about him:

"Unlike the pros, we got just two weeks' holidays in the summer, and while they were away our job was to remove the weeds from the pitch and replace them with grass seed. I remember being sat out there one day with Keith Ripley, another ground staff boy, when Major Buckley came over to us. We must have looked pretty forlorn, the two of us, and to gee us up he said he'd give us five shillings for every bucket we filled with weeds. Now that was an offer we couldn't refuse. By the time we were finished, we had filled six buckets, and, cheeky bugger that I was, I marched straight up to the Major's office. And when he asked what I wanted, I told him I was there to claim my thirty bob for the weeds. He nearly blew a bloody gasket! 'Get out of here!' he bellowed. 'You're already getting paid to do that work – don't ever let me see you up here again with your buckets.'

"Yet beneath the gruff exterior, he was a kind man, as he demonstrated once when I met him. My shoes must have been a sight, for when he looked down at them, he asked me if they were the only pair I had. I nodded. The next morning, he summoned me to his office and handed me a pair of Irish brogues, the strongest, most beautiful shoes I'd ever seen. And I had them for years."[citation needed]

Buckley left Leeds in April 1953, moving to Walsall, but left them in September 1955.

Buckley died in Walsall in December 1964, aged 82.


Wolverhampton Wanderers


  1. EDP24: Norwich City FC centenary
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gillatt, Peter (30 November 2009). Blackpool FC on This Day: History, Facts and Figures from Every Day of the Year. Pitch Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-905411-50-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Fathom :: The Source for Online Learning
  4. BBC – Shropshire – Sport – "The Ironbridge Rocket"
  • Calley, Roy (1992). Blackpool: A Complete Record 1887–1992. Breedon Books Sport. ISBN 1-873626-07-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links