Right half Frank Forman was born in Aston-upon-Trent, Derbyshire, the younger brother of Fred Forman and uncle to future England goalkeeper Harry Linacre, and all three followed a similar career path. Forman played youth football for the local village side Aston-upon-Trent in 1891 before moving up to Beeston Town in 1892, where he was spotted by Derby County. County signed him in March 1894 and he made his Football League debut against Nottingham Forest in September 1894, but after making only eight appearances he was transferred to East Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest in December 1894.
By the end of his first full season with Forest he had established himself in the half back line, generally playing on the right, alongside Scotsmen John McPherson and either Peter McCracken or Alec Stewart, as Forest finished the season in thirteenth place. By 1898, Stewart had been replaced by Willie Wragg as Forest reached the FA Cup Final for the first time, after a controversial semi final.
In the 1898 FA Cup semi final between Southampton and Nottingham Forest, the first match at Bramall Lane, played on 19 March, ended in a 1-1 draw. The replay at The Crystal Palace was played four days later in a blizzard. After a scoreless first half (in which Joe Turner missed a penalty for Southampton), in the second half The Saints were on top when, with ten minutes left to play, referee John Lewis stopped the match for a time and the players left the pitch. No sooner had the game restarted than the weather worsened but Lewis decided that the match should continue. Southampton’s goalkeeper George Clawley had his eyes “choked with snow” and conceded two goals, from Tom McInnes and Charlie Richards, in the final minutes of the game. Despite Southampton’s protests the F.A. decided that the result should stand and Forest were in the Final for the first time.
In the Final, played at The Crystal Palace on 16th April 1898, Forest met Forman’s old club, Derby County, who, like Forest, were making their first FA Cup Final appearance. Derby were favourites to win, having defeated Forest 5-0 in the League a few days earlier. Forest scored first after 19 minutes when Willie Wragg’s free kick fell to Arthur Capes whose shot gave Jack Fryer in the Derby goal little chance. County now began to exert pressure on the Forest defence and Forman, “who was performing splendidly at the back” had to clear efforts from John Goodall and Steve Bloomer. Just after the half hour point, Derby were level after Forman gave away a free kick on the edge of the penalty area which was whipped in by Joe Leiper for Steve Bloomer to score with a header off the crossbar. Three minutes before the half time interval, Forest were back in front after a mistake by Fryer allowed Capes a simple tap-in. Although Derby attempted to raise their game in the second half they fell further behind with four minutes left to play when John McPherson scored after John Boag failed to clear a corner, and Forest claimed the Cup with a 3-1 victory.
Forman’s first international appearance had come shortly before the FA Cup semi final when he was selected (together with his Forest team-mate Charlie Richards) for the British Home Championship match against Ireland played at The Solitude Ground, Belfast on 5th March 1898. Although England were “expected to win with ease”, they found the Irish tougher than expected and were fortunate to return home with a 3-2 victory, courtesy of goals from Gilbert Smith, Charlie Athersmith and Tommy Morren.
Forman was picked for the match against Scotland on 2nd April, when he played alongside Charles Wreford-Brown who was making his final appearance for the national team. The match, which would decide who would win the 1898 British Home Championship, was played at Celtic Park in Glasgow. The Scots were defeated by a fast and powerful England side who ran out 3-1 winners and took the trophy, with goals from Steve Bloomer (2) and Fred Wheldon.
Forman was selected to play for England in all three matches in the 1899 British Home Championship. For the match against Ireland, played at Roker Park on 2nd March 1899, Forman’s brother Fred made his international debut. They thus became the first brothers from the same professional club to represent England at the same time, a record that stood until Manchester United’s Neville brothers repeated the feat in 1996, nearly a century later. England totally dominated the Irish team and the England forwards “scored at will” with four from Gilbert Smith, three from Jimmy Settle and two each from Fred Forman and Steve Bloomer. Frank Forman also got on the score-sheet with the opening goal as England ran out victors by a 13-2 margin. This is still the record number of goals scored by England in a single match and the highest aggregate goals (15) in a match involving England. Forman retained his place for the next two matches which resulted in victories over Wales (4-0) and Scotland (2-1), and thus England retained the Championship.
He was not selected for the 1900 British Home Championship, his place going to Harry Johnson of Sheffield United, but he was recalled for the match against Scotland on 30th March 1901 which ended in a 2-2 draw.
For the 1902 British Home Championship match against Ireland on 22nd March 1902, Forman was appointed captain, with the match ending in a 1-0 victory with a late goal from Jimmy Settle. He retained his place for the next match against Scotland, played at Ibrox on 5th April 1902. This match was the scene of the first Ibrox disaster when a section of the stand collapsed resulting in 25 deaths. The match was declared void by the two Football Associations and was replayed at Villa Park on 3 May, resulting in a 2-2 draw. The proceeds of the re-played match went to the Disaster fund.
Forman’s ninth and final international appearance came against Wales on 2nd March 1903 in the only full international match played at Portsmouth’s Fratton Park ground. The match ended in a 2-1 victory for England. In his international career, Forman played nine official matches and was never on the losing side, with seven victories and two draws. He also represented The Football League on two occasions.
In the League, Nottingham Forest were regularly finishing in mid-table, with Forman missing only a small number of matches each season. During Forman’s eleven seasons with the club, Forest’s best League finish was fourth place gained in 1900-01, a season during which he captained the side. They did, however, have some exciting runs in the FA Cup, reaching the semi-finals in 1900, when they were finally beaten by eventual winners Bury 3-2 after extra-time in a replay, and again in 1902, when they lost 3-1 to Southampton who thus gained a measure of revenge for the controversial result of the 1898 semi final. Forman contributed four goals in the 1902 Cup run, including two against Stoke in the third round.
His career at Forest continued until January 1906, with his final appearance coming in the FA Cup. He played a total of 253 matches for Nottingham Forest, scoring 28 goals in all competitions.