Percy Main, Northumberland born left back Frank Hudspeth began his football career with Northern Alliance club Scotswood in 1906, playing subsequently for Newburn in 1907, Clara Vale in 1908 and North Eastern League club North Shields Athletic in 1909. He joined Newcastle United in March 1910 for £100 from North Shields and made his Football League debut against Bradford City in December 1910. He broke into the team on a regular basis by the end of December 1911, and despite losing four seasons to the First World War, during which he served in the Armed Forces as an Able Seaman in the Royal Navy, over eighteen years he made 472 appearances for Newcastle United and was their Club Captain between 1923 and 1926, leading them to their 1924 FA Cup Final triumph over Aston Villa.
Described as “a sterling defender, crafty, strong in kick and sturdy in tackling” and “a stalwart defender with a ponderous kick”, during his time at the club he became a popular figure amongst the fans, forming for many years a full back partnership with Billy McCracken, and he gained the nickname ‘Old Surefoot’ for his reliability. He is second only to Jimmy Lawrence in total appearances for The Magpies, scoring 37 times for Newcastle including 34 penalties. At 19 years with the club, he is Newcastle United’s joint longest servant with Billy McCracken.
Aged 35 and a half he became the oldest ever England debutant when he played against Ireland in a 0-0 draw at Windsor Park, Belfast in October 1925, his only England cap, a record he held until Leslie Compton’s England debut in 1950. He also played once for England in an unofficial Victory international in a 2-0 win over Wales at The Victoria Ground, Stoke in October 1919 and various international trial matches.
With the arrival of Hughie Gallacher he moved to Vice Captain but was ever present for the only time in his career in 1926-27 as Newcastle won the League Championship. However he lost his place in January 1928 and only played in a handful more matches for Newcastle before he moved to Third Division (North) club Stockport County in January 1929. He played 14 matches for The Hatters during the remainder of 1929, scoring twice, then joining non league Crook Town in 1930 before his eventual retirement. Hudspeth was later a trainer at Rochdale from July 1933 before joining the coaching staff at Burnley in August 1934, remaining there until 1945.
NB in the photograph at Wembley after the 1924 FA Cup Final, Hudspeth walks back down the tunnel with the Cup.