|Tuesday, 29 July 2008 19:57|
The arrival of Frank Hearn in Sydney in March 1956 was big sports news in a rapidly developing sporting city. The 'larrikin' from Crystal Palace had decided to leave the colder climes of England in search of an adventure in the land down under. Like so many others who came before and after him Frank decided to emigrate and was signed by the equally ambitious Gladesville-Ryde soccer club in Sydney. Gladesville-Ryde in Sydney's north-west were a district club which needed an injection of experience and with a top line footballing pedigree from England he was the ideal choice.
Frank was born in Camden in England and by his late teens he was on the playing roster at Torquay United. A transfer to Northampton Town followed before he finally made his first team debut with Crystal Palace in 1954. The following season he was transfer listed and with the blessing of his club he decided to immigrate to Australia. Only three players in Sydney soccer at the time had any professional experience in England. There was Joe Marston at A.P.I.A.Leichhardt, Billy Walsh the former Sunderland and Darlington centre half at Hakoah and his teammate Billy Murphy an inside forward at Exeter City. When Frank arrived, it made four high-profile English players and Sydney soccer was set to benefit.
I caught up with Frank at his home in Sydney's eastern suburbs and started by asking him how it all started in coming to Australia.
FH : "I was on the transfer list and I thought I would come down here. There was only Billy Walsh and he came from Sunderland and Billy Murphy from Exeter City. I had an offer to go to Los Angeles and play football in America but I thought I'd give Australia a try and haven't looked back since. Johnny Thompson was the guy who bought me out here because Johnny was playing for Gladesville then. There were players at Gladesville like Rex Foster, Tommy Rowles, Bede Greenfield, and Maxy Walker. I was only there for six months before the federation started and I went to Hakoah."
GS : When you transferred there you were one of the highest priced players at that point in Australian soccer. What was it like?
GS : Where did you go from there?
GS : What were the major differences with training in England and Australia?
GS : And in Europe?
GS : Plenty of highly talented European players followed your footsteps into the early 1960's. Players like Alick Jeffrey.
GS : And of course the high-profile Len Quested. What were your thoughts on him?
GS : And you coached his son Gary at Auburn.
GS : You played for Australia against Hearts with Len in 1959.
Frank Hearn retired from playing in 1964 after stints with Gladesville-Ryde, Wilhelmina, Hakoah and Pan Hellenic. He went on to start a lengthy coaching career with Pan Hellenic, Auburn, Prague and Hakoah where his ability to relate to his players often saw him as a popular figure in the soccer scene of the 1960s.
These days Frank has settled in the eastern suburbs of Sydney where he has retired from all things soccer. That is apart from a regular kick around on a Sunday morning in the Rose Bay area. Formeroos like Roy Blitz and Archie Blue are regulars as are soccer identities Harry Michaels, Charlie Perkins and David Hill.Frank in his own words 'captains both sides' but its more of a reflection of Franks love for the game that now into his 60s he still feels the need to don the boots and to have a run with some of the lads that made this game famous many moons ago.