Becton Frank Image 2 Preston North End 1896

Becton Frank Image 2 Preston North End 1896


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Preston, Lancashire born inside forward Frank Becton began his football career with Preston Juniors and played for Fishwick Ramblers from 1889 to 1891 before joining hometown Preston North End, at the time the nation’s top club, in September 1891, making his Football League debut at West Bromwich Albion that November in a 2-1 victory at Stoney Lane. Having won the League Championship in successive seasons before Becton’s arrival, Preston finished runners up in both of his first two seasons running in 1891-92 and 1892-1893, when Becton was their leading goalscorer with 23 goals in the League and Cup before sliding down the League ladder in subsequent seasons. In the latter season Becton scored FA Cup hat-tricks against Burton Swifts and Middlesbrough Ironopolis and played in the FA Cup semi final as Preston were beaten in a second replay by Everton at Ewood Park. He also scored all four goals at the end of March in a 4-0 League win over Notts County and another hat-trick eleven days later in a 4-0 win over Wolves.

Becton scored when Second Division Liverpool famously knocked Preston out of the FA Cup on 10th February 1894, and scored a hat-trick the next season as West Bromwich Albion were beaten 5-4 at Stoney Lane in January 1895. He netted twice for England on his international debut in a 9-0 win over Ireland at The County Ground, Derby on 9th March 1895 but then shocked his employers by demanding a hefty pay rise. He claimed Aston Villa, Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers were interested in his services. Preston sold him within the month for the quite substantial sum of £100 to Liverpool, by then a First Division club, after 54 goals in 102 appearances for The Lilywhites.

He scored four goals from only five appearances by the end of that season but could not prevent Liverpool’s relegation. However, Becton, George Allan and Jimmy Ross scored a total of 66 goals as Liverpool bounced straight back into the top-flight as Second Division Champions in 1895-96, winning promotion via the Test match system, Becton’s 18 goals including hat-tricks at Burslem Port Vale and Burslem Swifts.

On Liverpool’s return to the top division Becton got into serious trouble with Liverpool’s management when he failed to turn up for training in October 1896. He was instantly relegated to the reserves, having played regularly up to that point, and matters went as far as Liverpool wanting to sell him for his insubordination. A possible move to Aston Villa fell through and in the end the player and club settled their differences and Becton returned to the first team in December. Indeed such was his form that he was recalled to the England team in March 1897, winning is second and final cap in a 4-0 win over Wales at Bramall Lane. He also represented The Football League on two occasions.

Becton was also a losing FA Cup semi finalist in March 1897 as Liverpool were beaten 3-0 by eventual double winners Aston Villa at Bramall Lane, and he played two years with Liverpool in the First Division before finally moving to League Champions Sheffield United in August 1898 after 41 goals in 86 appearances for The Reds. The Champions were struggling in the League and Becton didn’t stay long at Bramall Lane, scoring 3 goals in 13 appearances before joining Southern League Bedminster (soon to be Bristol City) in 1899.

Becton moved back to Preston in September 1900 but the glory days at Deepdale were gone and as his local club was relegated despite his 10 goals in 28 further appearances. He joined Southern League Swindon Town in August 1901. He was instrumental in keeping Swindon in Division One as he scored two goals in the Test match at the end of his first season, before returning to the club in 1902 after a brief spell at Nelson. He stayed another for the remainder of the 1902-03 season and scored a total of 15 goals in 60 games over his two spells at the club. He then joined Lancashire Combination club Ashton Town in September 1903, moving to Oldham Athletic in 1904 and finally New Brighton Tower in 1905 before retiring later the same year due to ill health. He died of tuberculosis in November 1909 aged only 36.

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