In an era when English football had some of the greatest players ever to tread the turf, Frank Worthington was among the best.
Many tributes have been paid to the former Huddersfield Town legend who has died at the age of 72 after battling a long illness.
I met Frank on a number of occasions at the John Smith’s Stadium when going to watch my beloved Terriers. I regularly sat two rows behind him whilst commentating for Huddersfield Hospital Radio.
Frank always came across as a genuine and lovely bloke, so down to earth despite his flamboyant reputation as a player. Fame hadn’t affected him.
Playing alongside and against greats of the game like Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Sir Geoff Hurst, Nobby Stiles and more, Frank didn’t look out of place with any of them.
Once described as ‘the working man’s George Best’ by former Town boss Ian Greaves, Frank’s talent on the ball was up there with the best. However the quote from Greaves tells us much more. Whilst Frank did enjoy life off the pitch, all the fame and glamour didn’t go to his head.
Born in Halifax into a footballing family, his father and two eldest brothers played for Halifax Town. Frank, however, signed for the Terriers in 1966 and scored his first goal for Town in a League cup tie in 1967 against a star-studded West Ham United. His first league goal was scored against QPR.
Frank stayed with the club in the following few years developing his skills and style of play. Quick feet and strong on the ball he could see a pass and had an eye for goal. He helped the club gain promotion to the First Division in 1970. The Terriers got off to a great start in their new league by beating Blackpool 3-0.
With Town only surviving in the First Division for two seasons many players left including Frank. He joined Leicester City in 1972. During his time at Leicester he won all six of his England caps. SIX. Just six!
He also played for the likes of Bolton and Leeds United. He retired from the game in 1992 where he was player/coach at Halifax Town.
Frank and his sideburns had travelled the world. From Halifax to Huddersfield to America where he played for Philadelphia Fury and eventually back again. His love for the sport which had made his name was clear for all to see.
In his latter years he was a regular – in his fedora – at the John Smith’s Stadium. He got to see Town reach the promised land of the top flight again, nearly half a century since he played in that 1970 legendary side. I’m grateful he got to see us promoted to the Premier League.
Although Frank had travelled the globe, Huddersfield Town and its supporters clearly left a lasting impression on him. And he’s left an indelible impression on us.
It was an honour and pleasure to meet one of the greats of our game. Frank will be remembered for his skill, his passion, those sideburns but – most importantly – for being a fabulous bloke.
Tributes have flooded in on social media. Legend. Hero. Character. He was all those but so much more.
Everyone at Huddersfield Hub sends our deepest sympathies to Frank’s family and friends including his wife Carol at this sad time.
RIP Frank Worthington, once a Terrier, always a Terrier.