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Frank Eckersley by Adrian Lawrenson
The 1961-62 season was a transitional one in many ways. Firstly, it marked the end of the 1950s team and led the way to the new era of two division football. With this in mind, Frank Eckersley was given a trial for the Saints game at Oldham on 17 March 1962 in circumstances that were nearly of crisis proportions for the club.
The Challenge Cup winning team was quick to break up by January 1962. Vines, Terry and Vince Karalius had left the club, together with coach Alan Prescott, who, despite winning the Lancashire Cup final, had seen Saints lose 7 times in the league before Christmas.
A further 3 league defeats followed and Saints were in danger of starting the 1962-63 season in the Second Division. The lowest point was revealed on 3 March 1962, when a venomous cup tie against Huddersfield left Saints without Dagnall, Vollenhoven [injured] and the suspended Alex Murphy. Consequently, for the trip to Oldham, the Saints were in a twitchy frame of mind, hence the request to take Frank on loan to play in a back division that between Rhodes at full-back and Murphy, back from suspension, was full of inexperienced players. Frank usually played stand odd at Halifax. It would appear that Saints gave a reasonable account of themselves against a still strong Oldham in losing 7-10. However, the trial was not taken any further.
This game was the catalyst and Saints, with a still mediocre team, recovered to win 9 of their last 11 league matches to finish a creditable ninth in the league. The only two games lost in this spell were to a strong Wigan team.
Frank was a Leigh lad, who was loaned to the club from Halifax, where he played 8 matches between 1959-62. He has the Heritage Number 710 for Halifax. Many thanks to Frank’s daughter, Rhonda, for sending us the splendid photograph of her father. Rhonda submitted a team photograph featuring her dad which revealed that Frank was signed by Swinton after his stint with Halifax. This image is in the gallery and is of the great Swinton team of the mid 1960s with Frank on the front row. Sadly Frank passed away in December 2008 at the age of 69.
|Season (Official Matches)||Tries||Goals||DGoals||Matches|
|Season (Other Matches)||Tries||Goals||DGoals||Matches|
|17th Mar 1962||
|*Unofficial Match. **Non Playing Sub.|
|WINS : | LOSSES : 1 | DRAWS :|
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