Frank McGrath, who represented Carlton in its premiership season of 1945, died this week at the age of 90.

Frank, who managed eight games for the Blues after a two-game stint with Melbourne, was the older brother of JP "Shane" McGrath, the former Melbourne Captain and dual premiership full-back for the Redlegs.

Born in 1917 at Lake Marmal between Boort and Charlton, Frank was schooled at St Pats Ballarat, but left in 1933 to return home because of the Great Depression.

Image According to Frank's son Richard, he later joined the Army and forged ties with Richmond great Bill Morris. Together they played football and cricket, and Frank was said to be a better cricketer than a footballer - sending down darts as a right arm leg spinner and knocking up a few 100s in the local comp.

After a brief stint with Melbourne in 1942, Frank was relocated to Holsworthy in Sydney. The troop train stopped five miles north of Tocumwal in the middle of summer, and with no water around he and Morris hiked five miles for a swim and a beer. When they retuned to join the train they found it had gone, so they hitched to Sydney, arriving two days before the train and so were not charged with being AWOL.

When Shane wrote from New Guinea telling Frank to get out of the army before the army killed him, he and Bill secured a transfer to the Air force and learned to fly Tiger Moths. The pair required more than 70 hours to get their wings, but Frank was the second last one scrubbed at 180 hours as the war came to a close. He had accidentally lifted his under carriage after a flight with the engines still going, and 4000 WAFS came out of their digs to watch the plane disintegrate.

Frank returned to the Melbourne Football Club, but was unable to break in as too many similar-sized players competed for his position. Melbourne advised Frank to try his luck at Carlton, and at nearly 28 he joined the mighty Blues.

He managed eight senior games as a forward/ruck through the 1945 season, but late in the season suffered a kick to the leg (by Lou Richards he claimed) and the dye in the sock precipitated a blood infection that confined him to the injury list.

When it rained on the Friday night before the '45 Grand Final, Frank was advised that the match committee would be pitching for smaller players and he'd miss out on selection. That night Franks' father, who had made the trek down for the game, said it was time for him to go home as he needed his help farming and his other brothers were too young to manage.

He returned home to play and coach Charlton, which boasted Carlton colours until someone later added white cuffs to the guernsey, much to Frank's horror. Frank joined Charlton at a successful time and he was later made a life member of the club.

Frank then went on to coach Boort and its players, including the 1960 Brownlow Medallist John Schultz before he joined Footscray. In the mid 1970s Frank became the President of the Boort Football Club and, later, the North Central League.

In 1948, when Frank headed to Melbourne to see Shane play off in the Grand Final replay, he crossed paths with the Carlton President Kenneth Luke in the Members pavilion. Sir Kenneth asked Frank how things were going back on the farm. Frank replied that all was well and the family was experiencing a bumper year, but added that with things still tight after the war they wouldn't be able to get the crop off as they could not get a header to strip the wheat. Sir Kenneth asked Frank to jot down what he required on his Football Record and barely a week later the family received a telegram from Shane, who played in a follow up match against South Australia, along the lines of: "Got through game okay. Header on its way".

By getting that header, members of the McGrath family were able to reap (intentional pun) full benefit of the crop and set themselves up for many years, and according to Richard, "his children probably owe our education to that header".

Frank acquired his farm near Lake Marmal in 1935 and lived there until his death. He married Mary Harty on May 17, 1950. They married on a Wednesday as Shane was best man and captain of Melbourne and so had to work in his family and football commitments.

Of Frank's eight children, seven support Carlton. the notable exception is son Shane who supports Melbourne.

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