‘Major’ Frank Buckley (1883-1964) was manager of Hull City between 1946 and 1948. It was a largely unsuccessful spell at the newly opened Boothferry Park, with Hull remaining in the Third Division North during his time in charge, finishing 11th and fifth.
One of Buckley’s last acts had been to sign England legend Raich Carter as both a player and his assistant in April 1948, but by the end of the month Buckley had departed for Leeds, and Carter succeeded him as manager. The following year Hull were promoted to the Second Division and reached the sixth round of the FA Cup.
It had been Buckley’s reputation that had persuaded Carter to move to East Yorkshire in the first place. Buckley, along with Herbert Chapman, had built his reputation as one of the most innovative managers of the inter-war years, especially with Wolverhampton Wanderers, where he was manager from 1927 to 1944.
Buckley speaks to young player Cameron Campbell Buchanan during his time as Wolves manager in October 1942.
Born in Manchester, he enlisted in the Army in 1900 before Aston Villa bought him out in 1903. During the First World War, he joined the Footballers’ Battalion and attained the rank of Major. As a player, he had gained one England cap and was part of the growing trend for football clubs to employ former players as managers as they had knowledge of the game in comparison to secretary-managers who were employed largely on an administrative basis.
His first post was at Norwich (1919-20) before he returned to management with Blackpool in 1923. At Wolves, Buckley gave more attention to the players and their training through coaching innovations such as a purpose-built machine firing out footballs at unpredictable angles with the aim of improving players’ control.
Success on the pitch brought more powers off it and he made a number of major signings. Under Buckley, Wolves also pioneered a youth system. His most infamous innovation was injecting Wolves’ players with ‘Monkey Glands’ in order to stave off staleness and improve performance. It caused a great stir in the press while other clubs also adopted this form of treatment.
Buckley’s tactics had reflected his personality; direct, mixed with an emphasis on the physical. He had gained a reputation as an authoritarian figure, but this style was increasingly shunned by new managers such as Matt Busby, who adopted a more paternalistic and closer relationship with players.
Thus, by 1948, Buckley was seemingly a man who had had his time as football management continued to change and develop, something that Buckley himself had been at the forefront of.
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