Burslem, Staffordshire born left back Frank Stokes began his football career with Burslem Park in 1897 from where he joined local professional Second Division club Burslem Port Vale in October 1898, making his Football League debut against Luton Town in March 1899. He became a first team regular in the 1899-1900 campaign, featuring in 36 League and Cup games and missing just two League games, in doing so he played more matches than any other Vale player. In the 1900-01 season he again played 32 league games, with just two absences across the whole of the season. After 72 appearances for Vale he signed for Southern League club Reading in the summer of 1901. The Royals posted a fifth-place finish in 1901-02, before finishing as runners-up to Southampton in 1902-03.
He then left Elm Park and returned to the Midlands and to Football League action in the 1903 close season, signing for First Division Small Heath. The Daily Express reported that “Reading lose a fine back in Stokes, and his place will be hard to fill. Small Heath have secured him, and he should be of immense service to them in their First League matches.”
A muscular yet mobile defender, he formed an excellent full-back pairing with Jack Glover. He went straight into the first team, and played 26 First Division and four FA Cup games in 1903-04. He was an ever-present in the 35 game 1904-05 season, and featured 37 times in the 1905-06 campaign; the club changed its name to Birmingham F.C. in 1905. He played 38 of the club’s 39 games in the 1906-07 season, and scored his first and only goal at Coventry Road on 6th October, in a 2-0 win over Notts County. In the 1907-08 relegation season, the first full season to be played at St Andrew’s, he made 29 appearances. He featured in 23 Second Division games in the 1908-09 season and played 21 times in the 1909-10 campaign. In his seven years at the club he made 213 appearances in all competitions, before a serious knee injury forced his retirement from top level football. He joined non league Worcester City in 1910 where he played out his career. While at Birmingham he had several England trials but was never selected for an international appearance.