Francis "Frank" Barrett

Goal-keepers are usually a little slow to mature, at least they are nowadays. But that could not be said of Francis "Frank" Barrett. At sixteen he was playing for Johnstone Athletic, the Dundee not the Renfrewshire, junior version, at seventeen for the local Catholic club, Dundee Harp and in 1893 at twenty-one for Dundee at it was elected to the Scottish League's First Division. And there he was to stay for three seasons, gradually building a reputation and winning two caps before in 1896 Newton Heath, today's Manchester Utd., then in the English Second Division, came in for him as its first choice with possibly more to come. 

However, the four years he spent from the age of twenty-four to twenty-eight at United's then ground, Bank St., were to prove the high-point of his career, one hundred plus appearances in that time and the team never out of the top four in the division. In the first season he made thirty-five starts and continued on much the same lines. Yet in 1900, probably on the basis of money he made the decision to move club to New Brighton Tower. It was a mistake. 

Despite doing well, also in the Second Division, in fact finishing well above Newton Heath as it without him dropped to mid-table, at the end of the 1900-01 season, as the Wirral club was wound up, he found himself out of job and had to return to Scotland. But he did it to an extended family. Frank had been born in 1872 to Irish immigrants, one of eight children, six boys and two girls, his father working as a Jute Mill gate-keeper. And he himself would have four children, three of whom survived, all born in Dundee, having in 1895, before heading South and recorded as a Carpet Weaver, married Rose Murray. So, whilst his unemployment did not last long, Manchester but the City version soon recruiting him, there was considerable incentive to find a club closer to home. 

In fact City made it easy. Although finally with the prospect of appearances in the First Division he made just five League starts all season, ten in all with the FA Cup, essentially as third choice. And this was as what looked a stellar forward-line could not find the net, the team scored fewer goals than any of its competition, finished in bottom spot, was relegated, Barrett found himself released and headed home once more, this time for good.

However, once back on Tayside there was still some demand for his services, albeit not at the highest level. He joined Dundee Wanderers. It played in the Northern League and, although by November he is said to have stepped to the First Division with rival Dundee, there is no mention of him in First Team action and in any case at the end of the season he was on the move once more, although this time with prospects.

He went to Aberdeen, just created from the merger of three local clubs - the original Aberdeen, Victoria and Orion. It began life again in the Northern League in a first, 1903-4 season, finishing third but taking the Aberdeenshire Cup. Then the following year it was elected to the Scottish Second Division and the year after that, 1905-6, to the First Division. In that first season Frank made with twenty the fourth highest number of starts, but in the second just one and in the third none. The reason was not loss of form but his health. It would by 1905 force him to retire from the game entirely. Indeed so debilitating was it that The Dons in 1906 arranged a benefit match for him and by August 1907 he was, at the age of just thirty-five, dead, buried with family in Dundee's Eastern Cemetery.

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