Football historian Peter Kenny Jones recalls the exploits of the former Fulham star...
Born: Edmonton, 15.04.1896
Died: St Pancras, 19.12.1966
Debut: 30.08.1919 v South Shields
FULHAM HAVE had many stalwarts who have spent huge parts of their footballing career, and indeed their lives, at Craven Cottage. One such example of this is the speedy winger, Frank Penn. Penn arrived in 1915 and is an unadulterated one club man.
From 1915 to 1934, Penn represented the club on 459 occasions across 19 seasons where he scored 52 goals. Penn’s relationship with Fulham was extended beyond his playing days; he went on to become a trainer with the first-team. He was in this role until 1965, meaning he spent 50 years in total with the Club.
Penn’s playing style was exciting, he was a fast winger with a great crossing ability. He also added to the attack, picking up goals throughout his playing career that was interrupted by World War One. During the war, Penn served with the Royal Fighting Corps, where his engineering and mechanic skills were invaluable.
His time at the club was spent mostly in the Second Division, although the club did drop to Division Three South toward the end of Penn’s time with the Whites.
Unfortunately, his career was not littered with many trophies. Penn was part of a Fulham side that lost the 1919 Victory Cup Final to Arsenal. Despite the loss, this was a crucial moment of Penn’s career as from then on, he really nailed down his first-team place at the Cottage.
In October 1926, Penn was part of a Football Association XI that defeated an Army XI, delivering him the only honour. He failed to win an England cap, despite trialling in 1919 during a North-versus-South game.
For all his notable footballing ability, Penn will always be remembered for his loyalty. During his time with Fulham, he set a new appearance record which was completed at 459 games following his final appearance against West Ham United in 1934. He held this record for thirty years and has since only been surpassed by three men, Les Barrett, Eddie Lowe and Johnny Haynes.
His immediate transition into trainer following his career shows how keen Penn was to remain a part of the Fulham set-up. He later qualified as a physiotherapist, again an important demonstration of his desire to keep working for the Club he loved. When he retired from his role in 1965, he had worked under 13 different managers across 50 years. Penn died a year later, aged 70 in 1966.
Penn spent nearly his entire life with Fulham. The bond he shared with the Club was apparent and his tireless work to remain a key part of the fabric of Craven Cottage was admirable. He may not have been a household name, nor the most successful man in football but Frank Penn is certainly a Fulham legend.
Follow Peter on Twitter