South African born Frank Osborne became an intelligent inside forward for Tottenham Hotspur and scored a significant number of goals for the club in the late 1920s.
Frank did not arrive in England until he was a teenager and settled with his Army family in Hampshire, where he began playing football for Netley, his local side. With the outbreak of World War I, Osborne followed his father's service calling in the Royal Army Medical Corps to help those injured in battle.
After the war, he signed for the noted non-league side Bromley and in 1921 he was snapped up by Fulham of the Second Division. Osborne made an immediate impact with a debut goal and was part of the side that recorded seven straight wins to push the side up towards promotion from the division. This earned him two England caps (both against Belgium, with a hat-trick in the last match which England won 5-3), but the Cottagers fell away and Osborne's impact was reduced as he was fitted into the team where the manager wanted him to play rather than holding down one position in the side. Used as an outside right or a centre forward, Frank was a very skilful player, but the writing was on the wall for him at Craven Cottage.
Fulham's 1923-24 season proved an anti-climax and with money issues in the background to the relegation battle, Peter McWilliam's £3,000 bid for Osborne tempted Fulham to part with the forward. Initially, he was installed at inside right, as other players were doing well in the forward line and the manager did not want to dislodge them from the team. However, he was sometimes moved out to the wing and from that position, he was not an effective performer, as Spurs struggled to find form. Not the biggest of players, he sometimes was intimidated by physical full-backs and instead, he moved around to find space and then run at the defenders.
The change came in the 1925-26 season, when he was switched to a central striking position with other players injured or off form and the move paid dividends with hat-tricks in three successive matches (Liverpool, Leicester City and West Ham United). His cool finishing, where he had power in his shots, but also judged his shots to be just out of the goalkeeper's reach, earned him 27 goals that season.
Midway through the following campaign, there was a change in management and Billy Minter moved Osborne back to a wide position and it was only after he was restored to centre forward that he once more started to score freely and also linked up well with Taffy O'Callaghan. They both scored well, but the rest of the team had a less memorable season and the team was relegated to Division Two. Still Osborne hit the target with frequent success, but Minter and then his replacement Percy Smith thought the player should be deployed in different attacking positions, where he failed to shine and eventually he was dropped from the team.
Unhappy at the situation at the Lane, Frank took the opportunity to gain first team football when Southampton offered him some regular football in June 1931 and he stayed there for two years before going back to Craven Cottage, where he served in several roles as manager, general manager and director. Frank became secretary manager in 1948 and stayed in that role for the Cottagers until his retirement in 1960.
Frank Osborne died in Epsom, Surrey, England on 8th March 1988.