Frank Soo Herts AdThis First and Last feature concentrates on a most elite band of individuals to have twice experienced the ultimate honour in football of being manager of St Albans City. Going back to our early years the club did not have a manager or head coach, instead, the team was decided upon by a selection committee.

The first coach, rather than manager of the team, was Jack Ball in 1946. After a season in charge Jack handed over the reins to Billy Kellock but just a couple of months into his time at Clarence Park , Billy made way for Frank Soo.

The appointment of Soo was quite a coup for the club, particularly as he was still a player with Division Two side Luton Town. As a player he had appeared for Stoke City, Leicester City and Luton before turning out in the Southern League for Chelmsford City. During the 2nd World War he guested for Everton, Chelsea, Millwall and Brentford. Frank was born in Buxton to a Chinese father and English mother and became the first player of East Asian descent to play for England when he appeared in nine wartime international matches.

Frank, born Hong Y. Soo on 8th March 1914, took charge of his first training session at Clarence Park on Wednesday 22nd October 1947. He would oversee tactics with the wonderfully titled Blackboard Demonstrations. Three days later his new charges beat Ilford 4-0 at the Park in an Isthmian League game with goals from Jack Coates 2, Charlie Wood and Frank Adams . Soo, however, was not in St Albans that day, he was playing for Luton in a goalless draw with Tottenham Hotspur at Kenilworth Road. City finished the season in ninth place in the 14-team Isthmian League and Soo left the club at the end of the campaign – he departed Luton at the same time - to take over as player manager at Chelmsford City.

He returned to St Albans at the end of May 1950 when it was announced that he would be a full-time coach at Clarence Park , the first time that the club had appointed anyone in such a capacity. Early in his second spell at the Park he was invited by Walter Winterbottom, Director of Coaching to the Football Association, to assist with the coaching and physical training of selected students and professional players at Birmingham University between 16th-28th July 1950. City’s training for the new season began on the 25th July.

In the season prior to Soo’s return we had finished sixth, our highest placing since 1931. Unfortunately for Frank, we began his second stint in inconsistent form and it stayed that way throughout the year. We came to rest in ninth place having won 11 and lost 11 of our 26 league games. The major cup competitions also brought little joy. Athenian League side Enfield removed us from the F.A. Cup; City took 17 supporters coaches to see us go down 2-0 at Southbury Road in front of a crowd of 3,500. Neighbours Hitchin Town hastened our exit from the Amateur Cup with 2,692 witnessing a 1-0 defeat at Top Field.

Revenge over Hitchin was gained in the final of the Herts Senior Cup on 5th May 1951 where two goals from Johnny Richards and one from Jimmy Sperrin secured a 3-0 win at Underhill. While it may have been Soo’s team that lifted the Senior Cup he was no longer involved with the Saints as he had left the club at the end of March when, at his request, he terminated his gentleman’s agreement. Frank had accepted an offer to take on the role of manager of Italian side Padova for the 1951-52 season. He spent one season in charge of Padova, a club that City visited for a friendly in June 1965.

Born in Buxton, Frank passed away in Cheadle on 25th January 1991.