'Flying Frank' dies aged 72 (add your tributes)

Share this article

A former Saint whose brilliant try laid the foundations for the club's first ever Challenge Cup triumph in 1956 has died.

Winger Frank Carlton, of Eccleston Park, died in Whiston Hospital at the age of 72.

His wife Joan passed away in 1999, and he leaves children Greg and Linda, four grandchildren, sisters Mary and Annie, and partner Enid Williams.

Ranked among the town's favourite sporting sons 'Carlo' - as he was popularly known - was a rare talent who also excelled on the athletics track, he was on the books of Everton FC and went on the earn his niche in Rugby League folklore.

Born in Blackbrook, Frank was a pupil at St, Mary's and Parr Central schools, and it was here that he first revealed blistering pace, bewildering sidestep and 'Cumberland Throw' tackling technique that stood him in good stead later when stopping burly opponents such as Billy Boston.

And, by way of diversion from rugby, Carlton often appeared in Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas at school, with his starring role being that of Captain Cochran in 'HMS Pinafore.'

He was contemporary with likes of Alec Davies, Bobby Chisnall and Eric Ledger before signing for Saints in 1953, for whom he went on to make 156 appearances during which he notched a remarkable 130 tries and was elevated to the Hall of Fame. An honour richly deserved in the opinion of Alex Murphy, who said Frank was the best locally-born winger he had seen.

Frank's touchdown at Wembley was vital, coming as it did after a scoreless first forty minutes, when he raced over from halfway following a shrewd pass from centre Brian Howard, leaving 'Fax's' Arthur Daniels, Ken Dean and Johnny Freeman trailing in his wake.

Tall, dark, handsome and a modest gentleman to boot, Frank toured Australia and New Zealand with the British Lions in 1958-62 and also represented England and Lancashire.

He joined Wigan in 1960 and, ironically, marked Tom Van Vollenhoven when Saints beat the Central Park team at Wembley 12 months later.

A gas fitter by trade, Carlton appeared in Service's Rugby Union while in the RAF. Such was the regard for the man who enriched the lives of all who knew him that Blackbrook St Mary's Church will be packed to the rafters for his funeral on Monday, March 2, at 10am.