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Sunday, 24 May 2015

Former Workington Reds player-manager Frank Upton dies

Frank Upton, who was player-manager of Workington Reds during their Football League days, has died at the age of 76.

He had been with Worcester City when he was appointed the Workington manager in December 1967.

He inherited a team at the wrong end of the Fourth Division and was unable to prevent the team sliding towards the re-election zone overseeing just four wins in his 21-game tenure.

Following a 7-0 defeat at Southend United, Frank decided to make a comeback as a player and named himself in the side for the next six matches – a run which yielded just one point!

Reds finished 23rd and Frank’s managerial career (won four, drew four, lost 13) at Borough Park was over with his resignation accepted in July.

He had worked tirelessly to promote the club and stir up interest among the fans.

“We’re backing Upton” car stickers appeared across west Cumbria and for a short while Reds generated more press publicity locally than any other sport.

But he struggled to bring in the kind of players, well grounded in Division Four football, who would have made an impact.

However, he did sign an England international for the Reds – left winger Eddie Holliday who made his debut in February 1969 and went on to play 56 games.

Three of his four victories were recorded in his first eight games in charge and included a 3-1 success over Swansea at Borough Park when Billy Griffin helped himself to a hat-trick.

After leaving Workington, however, Frank rebuilt his football reputation.

He joined Northampton Town’s in 1969, but moved to coach Aston Villa in 1970. He joined Chelsea's coaching staff in 1977 and became caretaker manager in December 1978.

He also coached Dundee, Al Arabi of Kuwait and Wolves.

He was assistant manager of Coventry City between December 1985 and April 1987. The following month he took over as coach of Icelandic side Keflavik ÍF before returning to the non-league game in the UK, then joining Leicester.

He joined Derby and only his wife’s illness prevented a switch to Liverpool. Instead, he moved to Chelsea, where he won the League Cup, before returning to Derby.

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