Manchester United

Frank Stapleton - Manchester United - Biography of his football career at Man Utd.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 07 May 1983

Click on image to enlarge

      Tuesday, 10 July 1956
      Dublin, Ireland.
  • Arsenal FC
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 29th March 1975 in a 1-1 draw at home to Stoke City (Aged: 18)
    • Club Career
      223 League apps (+2 as sub), 75 goals
  • Manchester United
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 29th August 1981 in a 2-1 defeat at Coventry City (Aged: 25)
    • Club Career
      204 League apps (+19 as sub), 60 goals Prostate cancer charity 150 x 150 Image

Frank STAPLETON - Manchester United - Biography of his football career at Man Utd.

                                                         (Part 1) 1981-83.


Frank Stapleton joined Manchester United in the summer of 1981 for a fee of £900, 000 from Arsenal. He was Ron Atkinson's first major signing and made his debut in the opening fixture of the 1981/82 season, a 2-1 defeat to Coventry City at Highfield Road. His first goal for the Red Devils came in his third appearance, a 2-1 home defeat to Ipswich Town on 5th September. The Irishman then scored in 4 of his next 6 games as the side went on an unbeaten run in the league lasting 12 matches. A further purple patch of goals came Frank's way around the turn of the year, however, occasional defeats cost the team dear and they had to settle for third place.


Stapleton finished the campaign as leading scorer with 13 goals from his 41 league appearances. Having partnered Gary Birtles in his first season, Frank found himself an altogether different ally for his second season, Norman Whiteside. The combination worked immediately with Stapleton scoring on the opening day in a 3-0 victory over Birmingham City at Old Trafford. Again, sporadic defeats in the league put pay to hopes of a long awaited title, however, the domestic cup competitions provided plenty of excitement for the fans. United reached both finals, beating Arsenal at the semi-final stage on each occasion, but lost the first of those, the League Cup Final, 2-1 to Liverpool.


Stapleton and co returned to Wembley within two months to face Brighton in the FA Cup Final (see photo above) and fought out a 2-2 draw, with Stapleton scoring United's second. In doing so, Frank became the first player to score for two teams in an FA Cup Final, having scored for Arsenal, against United, some four years earlier. The replay was a one-sided affair with United strolling to a 4-0 victory. During the 1982/83 season Stapleton played in 59 of the side's 60 games and once again finished the season as top scorer, this time with 19 goals. (Steve Drabble)


Frank Stapleton is picturede in 1984 playing for Manchester United. Photo  George Herringshaw.  ©     

                                                     (Part 2) 1983-87


 Frank Stapleton began the 1983/84 season as he had begun the previous, scoring in a 3-1 win against Queen's Park Rangers. Whatever the competition, Frank was knocking them in. By the first week of December, Stapleton had already reached 14 goals for the season as the side went well in the league and reached the European Cup Winners' Cup Quarter-Final. They were drawn against the mighty Barcelona and lost the first leg 2-0 at the Nou Camp. The return leg at Old Trafford is an evening that ranks among the highest in United's European history as they overturned the two-goal deficit to win the tie 3-2 on aggregate. Stapleton scored the all-important third goal to send the Old Trafford faithful into ecstasy.


However, defeat in the semi-final to Juventus and a poor run in the league towards the end of the season cost the side any hope of silverware. By the end of the '83/84 season, Stapleton had a new partner up front, Mark Hughes. Frank missed the majority of the opening months of the subsequent campaign, returning to regular first team action in December 1984. He scored in three consecutive games around the turn of the year one of which sent United on their way to another FA Cup success. Another Stapleton goal in the semi-final against Liverpool saw United up against Everton in the final. Norman Whiteside's extra-time pearler gave United the trophy and Frank his third winner's medal. The following league campaign began in record-breaking fashion as United won their opening ten matches. However, injuries to key players cost the side and the season petered out with United finishing fourth.


The team's miserable form continued the next season as they lay second from bottom after 15 games, despite Frank continuing to bang the goals in. Sir Alex Ferguson was brought in as Ron Atkinson's replacement in November and, as Ferguson began to ring the changes, Stapleton was sold to Ajax in the summer of 1987 having made his final appearance as a substitute in a 1-0 home defeat to Wimbledon on 2nd May 1987. (Steve Drabble).


1981–1987   Manchester United    223    (60)
1987              Ajax    3    (0)
1987–1988     Anderlecht (loan)    ?    (?)
1987–1988     Derby County    10    (1)
1988–1989     Le Havre    18    (5)
1989–1991     Blackburn Rovers    81    (13)
1991              Aldershot    1    (0)
1991              Huddersfield Town    5    (0)
1991–1994     Bradford City    68    (2)
1994–1995     Brighton & Hove Albion    2    (0)