Joe Frail was one of the most colourful characters in Middlesbrough's long history.

Shaun Wilson


A traditional gypsy, Frail lived in a caravan during his playing career and was renowned for always wearing a knotted handkerchief around his neck when keeping goal.

For many years he ran a market stall in the town centre, where punters paid to take penalty kicks against him.

The practice must have paid off as he had a good record against spot kicks and once saved three penalties in the same game when playing for Brentford.

He joined Boro in 1900 from non-league side Chatham in time for the clubs second Football League season, although it was his former club Derby County who received the £25 transfer fee.

An imposing shot stopper, he conceded less than a goal a game during his time on Teesside and was first choice goalkeeper as promotion was secured in 1902.

However, he was dropped for the final game of the season after failing to advise the club that he was appearing in court for a misdemeanour!

With Tim Williamson starting to flourish, he was allowed to join Luton Town in the summer.

In 1903 he returned for a brief spell as cover for Williamson and played one final game for the club versus Sheffield United in February 1905.

Again his exit had echoes of his previous departure when given his marching orders after another police conviction!