Blackpool born goalkeeper Frank Swift was a legendary England goalkeeper who played over 500 games for Manchester City in League and wartime football between 1933 and 1949. He began his football career with Blackpool Corporation Gasworks in 1930 and joined Fleetwood in 1931. On 8th October 1932 17 year old Swift, then at Fleetwood, was given a trial by First Division Manchester City and on 16th November 1932 he became registered as a City player, making his Football League debut at Derby County on Christmas Day 1933 and immediately establishing himself as City’s first choice keeper in succession to Len Langford.
In his first season at City he won the FA Cup beating Portsmouth 2-1 in the 1934 Final at Wembley. He also won the League Championship with City in 1937, however the following season they were relegated and Swift entered the period of the Second World War as a Second Division player.
During the Second World War, Swift continued to play regularly for City, making 134 wartime league appearances. He also appeared for Liverpool, Aldershot, Reading, Charlton and Fulham as a wartime guest. He played in 14 wartime and Victory internationals for England and won 19 full England caps, all of which were awarded after the War, keeping 9 clean sheets. His international debut came in a 7-2 victory over Ireland at Windsor Park, Belfast in September 1946 Swift twice captained his country, his first match as captain was against Italy in Turin in May 1948, and he guided England to a significant 4-0 victory. At the final whistle, Swift was carried shoulder high by his team mates after a tremendous performance and in later years Tom Finney and Tommy Lawton, amongst others, claimed this as Swift’s greatest game. After representing Great Britain in 1947, Swift made his final international appearance on 9th April 1949 against Scotland at Wembley. He also made two appearances for England ‘B’.
Returning to Manchester City after the War, he played in the 1946 FA Cup and he missed only a handful of matches as Manchester City were promoted as Second Division Champions at the first time of asking in 1946-47. Swift played 2 more seasons in the top flight and had already retired in the summer of 1949 (deciding to go whilst still at the top) before being recalled for the opening 4 games of the 1949-50 season due to Alec Thurlow’s illness, before finally hanging up his gloves after 378 appearances for The Citizens.
He was tragically killed in the Munich Air Disaster in February 1958 aged 44 when working as a journalist.
His older brother Fred was also a goalkeeper with Blackpool, Oldham Athletic, Bolton Wanderers and Shrewsbury Town.
NB in the photograph taken on 19th May 1948, Swift stands to attention for the national anthems ahead of England’s B international against Switzerland at Bellinzona. Swift was England’s captain as England won 5-1.