By Tony Attwood
Frank Boulton is one of those players whose football life seems difficult to track exactly. Indeed as I search for details of his personal life I find contradictions in report, for he was born in either Chipping Sodbury or Yate, depending on the source you read.
But we do have a definitive on his dates: he was born on 12 August 1917 and died 20 June 1987.
He started out with Bristol City, before moving on to Bath City, from where he was transferred to Arsenal for £700 in October 1936.
He made his league debut in a 4-1 win over Preston North End on 25 December 1936 (not 3-1 as noted in some sources – the goals were scored by Drake (2) Kirchen and Milne).
Prior to his arrival Wilson and Swindin had also been used as goal keepers (although Wilson only had a couple of games all season). Frank kept goal for the rest of the season and got 21 games that year as Arsenal finished 3rd.
The following season Wilson started in goal again in the first match and this time got 10 games. Boulton came in next and got 15, while Swindin played the final part of the season and played 17 games.
This was thus not exactly a rotation of keepers, as some sources mention for from February 2 Swindin played each and every game – it was a replacement of Frank Boulton, possibly due to injury. The injured player loses his place, the replacement comes in, does particularly well, and then holds onto his place.
However from the club point of view it was all for the best. That season Arsenal won the league for the 5th time in the decade.
It does look like Frank Boulton had dropped down the order of choice at Arsenal however because he then joined Derby in August 1938, but of course after a year his career was interrupted by the war so only made 46 appearances before leaving for Swindon in July 1946. Derby did make the cup final while Frank was there but he missed out on the final win due to injury. But he did play 39 league games, plus 7 FA Cup games for Derby that season (the Cup being played on a home and away basis).
From 1946 he moved to Swindon Town and I have found these records…
- 1946/7 30 games
- 1947/8 30 games
- 1948/9 21 games
- 1949/50 16 games
He then in 1950 moved on to Crystal Palace, and ended his career at Bedford Town. One source says he moved to Palace in May 1959 but by then he would have been 42, which seems highly unlikely.
I am sorry to say I have no details of his life beyond his time at Bedford. As always, if you know, please do write in.