An extraordinary character and an amateur goalkeeper who played for the club between 1889-1891, Frank Scott-Walford went to to be a successful manager after his time at the Lane. His main claim to fame is that he was the first player to sign on professional terms at Tottenham Hotspur.
Arriving in the late 1880s as an amateur from the Birmingham area, where he had been training as an engineer, he featured in the early days of the club and doubled up as a club administrator too. With his new profession being association football, Scott-Walford stayed in the area and provided Spurs news to various publications for some time, However, the man with the waxed moustache and a liking for wearing flowers in his button-holes caps, straw boaters and plus fours, would not be tied down and moved on to play for a number of other clubs. Not all of them were recorded, but it is known that he did play for London Caledonians, Lincoln City, Small Heath and Aston Villa.
On leaving Villa, Frank appealed to the Football association to revert back to an amateur and went into administration, being credited with being the driving force behind forming the Enfield and District League. Scott-Walford was a good cricketer and enjoyed cycling, but he was also an experienced referee and took charge of a benefit match between Spurs and Millwall in September 1900.
His work off the field had been closely monitored and when Brighton sacked John Jackson (the man who had founded the club) in March 1905, they turned to Scott-Walford to take over the secretary-manager's post. Handed a five year contract, the manager found himself with only three players at the end of the season and thus he had to re-build the team, which lead to a bottom four finish in his first season and an four month FA ban from management from 2nd April 1906 for the use of his methods in trying to attract (tapping up) players to the club.
His team rallied and finished third in his third season in charge, with a few notable FA Cup scalps, but his methods were attracting attention from other clubs and he was one of 90 applicants for the vacant job at Leeds City in 1908, whose directors had him as their number one target. It took over a week of negotiations with the Brighton board to allow Scott-Walford to be released from his contract and on 1st April 1908, he took over at Elland Road.
By the start of the following season Frank had persuaded the board at Leeds to change the role of the secretary-manager from a mainly administrative post to one with power to choose the team, rather than leaving it to the board, who sometimes made erratic selections.
After a battle against re-election in the 1909-10 season, Leeds City found themselves in a mess with shareholders challenging the board and the club being over £10,000 in debt. Scott-Walford often arranged for the players to receive their wages from his own pocket, such was the crisis. He himself was owed £3,500 by the club.
The financial situation meant there was no money for players and Scott-Walford was consigned to trawling Ireland for talented players and trying to keep Leeds City from re-election. In a scenario that was to become familiar with the modern Leeds club of the 21st century, he was forced to sell players to keep the debtors away.
As his health suffered, Frank called it a day at Leeds in 1912 and he was given a number of gifts (bit not the money owed to him) at a dinner to mark his leaving held at the Cyprus Cafe in Leeds.
It was erroneously announced that he was to become Nottingham Forest's secretary in April 192, but someone else got the job, so when Scott-Walford did re-surface in the game, it was as Coventry City manager in 1914. Just relegated to the Southern League and with World War I on the horizon, he struggled to form a side to put out and with financial troubles haunting him again, it was not a good move for him. The company was wound up in 1915, with the manager still owed £100 in wages.
Perhaps a pioneering manager and administrator such as Frank Scott-Walford did not deserve the travails he had to go through, but he was not the first maverick to suffer at the hands of football's directors and also at the hands of the financiers.