Yesterday was a long painstaking day of very mixed Frank Worthington emotions, none more so hurtful than not being able to contact our friend over the past couple of years after that visit to see both he and Stan, although still smiling they were both slipping away from the world they were brought up to not only create and entertain but make such an impression on those around them. Frank in particular because he, after long soul searching all day, asking that stupid question ‘why’ although I didn’t come out of it all with the same kind of Worthington smile I did chuckle a wry one a couple of times and talk to him in my kitchen last night why pouring myself a drink, not to “raise that glass” but to make myself feel sadder, strange how the mind works. But after all of that what can we do?
This time I write simply to put down words that I can always look back on, because I suppose I’ve always wanted to be a different kind of ‘star’ a great musician or writer of the best screenplay and when I watch the latest best film The Irishman I think of De Niro, Pacino, Pecci and the new kid on the block Stephen Graham and imagine directing them like I was in total control in the centre circle of the Victoria Ground – yeah its all the same thing, control, composure and to what Tony Jimenez called me last night trying to buck me up telling me that my name was mentioned more on Facebook than any other Stoke City player as the most “naturally gifted” player they’d ever seen at that famous old ground, the word “belief” comes to mind and Frank crops up again. I thank all of those wonderful fans of our day for those such wonderful comments with this sent in by Jonathan Lowe, possibly grabbing my eye most, although I could not read them all for my mind keeping on drifting elsewhere: “Definitely Hudson, just strolled around the midfield like he owned the place. Knew where the next pass was going before he even got the ball. And all after a night on the town.🤭👍”
And then I thought of Frank again and came up with him being, keeping our coaching school in mind, the clown, you know the one you rent out to take those kids into a different world, because that is what he lived for and did to those of us around who knew and loved him. He was always somewhere else, as if a kid on a school journey. And his journey through life was so very memorable, and like many say of the likes of me, “He never got many caps, never won much and could have done more” but hang on here, there is a life outside those four long white lines, and life goes well beyond those, as the past year has proven me to be so very right. It is something I always told a youngster following ours and their dream, ‘You must enjoy your teens more than anything because they don’t come back, but while doing so, the more you enjoy them the harder you must train and the more you must hurt inside, it is a painful game if you play it properly.’
My hurt is relentless from both playing tough matches on tough pitches, long days and nights socializing with anyone who’ll live as if today was their last and then the relentless path from the Mile End Road through the Fulham Road to Campbell Road, Stoke-on-Trent to Highbury and into another world of sheer delight Bellevue, Seattle, Washington, forever changing different colours but keeping the same heart. And I say this because for those of you who know about my jigsaw puzzle Frank would have been one of the pieces in that unique box to come with me, as both a Waddington player and my off the field clown. A clown can be seen in many different disguises and Frank had his very own one, because he never knew he was playing that part because he wasn’t, he was born to entertain us whether it was when pulling a Leicester, Brighton, Leeds (ouch) Huddersfield, Bolton or a Hungerford XI shirt over his pony tailed head. He never grew up. What a wonderful thing. Never growing up. He was a still that same kid at heart and when the whistle blew where others were Hell bent on winning at all costs, even to the extent of breaking an opponents leg and today cheating every way they can and faking injury Frank strolled through it, much like Tony Currie after another piece of magic, blowing kisses to his adoring fans, that’s what I call life – I think the other Frank will agree, he even sang a song about it. . He still loved and admired George Best, yet played against him and drank with him. He still adored Alan Ball, strangely at 6″ 2′ tall looked up to Alan Ball, truly, looking down at this “Ball of Fire” I stood beside these two charming men watching Frank drool over AB’s enthusiasm for our game and life itself. If you could capture that on film it beats Di Nero and Pacino in HEAT. It is with this in mind telling you about our friend, I could do a “Good Morning Frank Show” like the marvelous Robin Williams did of Vietnam, and in fact join the two as Frank would have started another war over there by just hopping off a chopper and entertaining those brave soldiers – forget Bob Hope, The Clown from Huddersfield is in town, and they’d forget while there were until he jumped back on and fly away and they’d have seen something that they would take into the next battle. Its just the effect he made on people, young, old, male or female, black or white, yellow or pink Frank was not aware of all of this stuff, he was put down here thrown in the middle of society and told to “Show them Frank, show them.” My other friend, and another of life’s gems Chris Garland lies in a Bristol Home and although as I said of Frank earlier as to ‘What’s the use of calling’ so painfully said, I must phone Ruth and remind her of Chris’s love for Frank, who I must say tells a lovely story of their days playing at Leicester City. Chris was the complete opposite of Frank in his football strip, the one who would do all Frank’s legwork. He told me: “Frank used to have his own Fan Club at Filbert Street and they stood one one side of the ground in the corner in in a kind of paddock. I would make runs into the box from the right wing and he’d be playing to his own crowd on the left side and I must have ran in and out of the box about a half-a-dozen times without him knowing. He was keeping it up on his knee, his head doing tricks like a Toreador. I was completely knackered and when we came in he’d not know why?”
Yeah, it takes all kinds, my jigsaw again, to make a football team, but Frank would be that piece that, like every great manager puts one particular name first on his team sheet, Frank’s piece would be the first piece I’d look for in mine. Never a dull moment. The greatest Bobby Moore used the term “All Is Well?” as a welcome gesture but he didn’t need it with Frank, he knew all was well, if only?