Son pays tribute to Ely City history-maker and 'brilliant dad'

Ex-Ely City footballer Frank Oliver

Frank Oliver (far right), who has died aged 94, featured in Ely City's run to the FA Amateur Cup first round in the 1950s. - Credit: Family

The son of a former Ely City footballer who helped the club to one of their most historic achievements said he was “a brilliant dad who would drive the team forward”. 

Frank Oliver played for the Robins during the 1950s while he was working for the Ministry of Defence (MoD). 

His son Des said: “Frank was a brilliant dad, family-orientated and was the footballer that would drive the team forward.” 

Frank died aged 94 last month. 

Born on January 15, 1928, Frank grew up in Red Row, Northumberland and studied in the area, including at the Duke’s Secondary School in Ashington. 

He then went to undertake national service, where he met ex-James Bond star Roger Moore. 

Frank Oliver in the RAF

Frank Oliver during his national service days. - Credit: Family

“Dad used to tell lots of stories,” said Des.  

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“Roger was frightened of firing things, so he put his hands over his ears and shut his eyes.” 

After finishing national service, Frank began a career in the Ministry of Defence at RAF Feltwell in Norfolk, where he met his wife Ros. 

And while he was in East Anglia, the keen sportsman decided to sign for Ely City at the start of the 1955-56 season when the Robins reached the FA Amateur Cup first round. 

Frank Oliver scores for Ely vs Torquay FA Cup

Frank Oliver (far right) scored for Ely City against Torquay in the Robins' 1956-57 FA Cup run. - Credit: Ely City FC

Frank Oliver of Ely City FC

Frank Oliver was part of the side that reached the FA Amateur Cup first round in the 1950s. - Credit: Ely City FC

“While at Feltwell, he played for the RAF team and saw that Ely were one of the strongest teams in Cambridgeshire, which is why he started to play for them,” Des said. 

“He was playing a friendly versus Norwich and said in the first half, he nutmegged a centre-half three times.

“The centre-half grabbed him by the arm and said ‘that’s impressive, but if you do that in the second half, I’ll break your legs’.” 

Known as ‘Tricky Ollie’ for his quick forward play, one of Frank’s highlights at Ely was scoring against Division Three South side Torquay in an FA Cup tie during the 1956-57 season. 

Frank Oliver with Ely City photographs on 90th birthday

Frank with his 90th birthday cake and photographs of some of Ely City's teams. - Credit: Family

Frank left Ely in the late 1950s, travelled to the likes of Yemen and Cyprus while with the MoD, and also played cricket, darts and snooker. 

Des added: “Frank was a brilliant dad, family-orientated and was the footballer that would drive the team forward.  

“He was a great raconteur."

Frank Oliver who played for Ely City FC

Frank Oliver (right) was known as "a brilliant dad" to son Des. Pictured is Frank with wife Ros. - Credit: Family

A spokesperson for Ely City said Frank’s contribution to the club “during the two seasons he was with us is unsurpassed.  

“The goal he scored on that November day in 1956 means he will forever be remembered in the annals of history at this club.” 

Frank, who has five brothers, is survived by two children and six grandchildren. 

Frank Oliver formerly of Ely City FC

Frank was known as 'Tricky Ollie' for his forward play while at Ely City FC. Pictured is Frank with wife Ros. - Credit: Family

Frank Oliver with family

Frank Oliver, who played for Ely City in their FA Cup run of the 1950s, pictured with Ros, and children Des and Caroline. - Credit: Family

His funeral will take place at Chilterns Crematorium in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, today (Friday).