Hall of Fame: Frank McIver

Frank McIver

Frank McIver was born in the North East of England around 1904. Though he had never played competitive football he was signed by Seaton DeLaval Presbyterians in the Blyth and District Church League and finished as their top scorer for the season at age 17. He was working down the mines at the time and thought nothing of going straight to the game from the pit. He emigrated to Australia during the Miners’ strike and lock-out which was the cause and consequence of the General Strike in England in 1926. He brought his football boots with him, but found no opportunity to play in the Mallee where he was sent to work, so played a couple of seasons of Australian rules.

In 1929 he answered an advertisement in the paper from the Preston soccer club and quickly established himself as the club’s leading scorer, despite travelling from Bendigo every Saturday to play. He helped ‘the Rest’ to beat the champion club, Caledonians in 1931 and was called up to play for Australia on tour to Java, where the Australians won nine games out of thirteen and drew one. From 1932 to 1935 he played with Hakoah helping the new club to the First Division title in 1934 and its first Dockerty Cup in 1935. Frank scored more than 60 goals in the 1935 season. He was top scorer when Hakoah won the league again in 1938.

Kingswood v Hakoah 1934
A newspaper article previewing the Hakoah match against Kingswood in Adelaide, Frank McIver touted as one to watch after scoring six hat-tricks in the league before July. The newspaper erred, he actually scored seven. Source: Aku Roth collection.

Frank moved to Yallourn for work and played for both Victoria and Australia against the Indian touring team in 1938 scoring twice for the national team, though some sources credit the goals to Jack Hughes. He remained with the Hakoah-Moreland combined club during the Second World War as the league was won in 1943 and the Dockerty Cup again in 1945.

After a season with Brighton he played for Yallourn when it joined the Metropolitan League in 1948, coaching their Under-19s to a League-Cup double as well. He was disappointed when the local youngsters were prevented from getting into the senior team by arriving migrants and many were lost to Australian rules as a result.

Hakoah 1934 Adelaide Tour
Frank McIver (kneeling on the far left) pictured with the 1934 Hakoah team that toured Adelaide. Source: Aku Roth collection.

McIver became a member of the State selection committee, but had one last hurrah as a player scoring a hat-trick in his final game at age 48. He became secretary of the Latrobe Valley Association, and later a journalist and president and publicity officer of the Association. He said he never missed a game through injury and was never cautioned as a player, and never paid for playing.

Although records from the period of his career are limited, he scored well in excess of 200 league goals and perhaps as many 300 across all competitions, making him one of the most prolific forwards of any era in Victoria. 

When interviewed for Soccer News in 1964, he concluded:

It would be a nice gesture of appreciation if the Soccer powers put on an annual dinner for its stars, past and present. To those who have represented Australia an international dinner would be something to make the young players strive to get to, and something to make the Australian Rules players and administrators envious of.

McIver was made a Life Member of the Victorian Soccer Federation in 1967. He moved to Queensland in his final years, passing away near Hervey Bay in February 1978.

The foundation of a Hall of Fame by what is now known as Football Australia was commemorated with an inauguration ceremony on February 28, 1999. McIver was inducted to the Roll of Honour as a member for meritorious contribution. 

McIver was posthumously inducted into the Football Victoria Hall of Fame in 2016.