Frank Munro: Tough but stylish footballer who was a key figure for Wolves in their most successful period since the 1950s

Once described unforgettably by a Wolverhampton Wanderers fan with an inspired turn of phrase as "an E-type Jaguar inside a Sherman tank", Frank Munro was not only a redoubtable bulwark of the Black Countrymen's defence during the late 1960s and most of the 1970s, but also a stylish and occasionally audacious entertainer. The Scottish international was an imperious cornerstone of the accomplished Wolves side which reached the Uefa Cup final in 1972, then won the League Cup two years later, and after they were relegated in 1976 he captained them back to the First Division – the equivalent of today's Premier League – at the first attempt.

The rock-like six-footer from Broughty Ferry was strong enough to slug it out with the most physical of centre-forwards when required, never yielding an inch when the going got tough, but he could also bring to the game an engaging touch of elegance a tad surprising in a stopper so mountainously built. When not tackling ferociously or soaring combatively into aerial duels, Munro could control the ball assuredly, pass it perceptively and even embark on a deft dribble which was clearly a legacy of his earlier days as an inside-forward.

Invariably, too, he radiated confidence and composure, precious qualities at the heart of any rearguard, and beyond that, for all the raw physical endeavour demanded of any top-flight defender, somehow his play was infused with his own personality, which was sunny. He loved playing football for his living, the Molineux fans picked up on that happy circumstance, and they adored him for it.

The Munro career, which yielded four caps each at youth and under-23 level, and then a further nine for the senior team, got off to a false start when he headed south to join Chelsea as a promising teenage forward in 1961. He failed to make the grade and never turned professional at Stamford Bridge, heading back to his home city to sign for Dundee United in July 1963.

His star began to rise so rapidly that soon he was spoken of as "the Scottish version of Duncan Edwards", a memorably daft and unrealistic tag of which he made light to become established at Tannadice as an attacking midfielder in 1964-65. Somewhat surprisingly, in October 1966 he was sold to top-tier rivals Aberdeen for £10,000 and made a rapid impact at Pittodrie, appearing in that season's Scottish Cup final defeat by Celtic.

That qualified the Dons for the European Cup-Winners' Cup, as that season Jock Stein's Bhoys won every major trophy available to them, and thus in 1967-68 were attempting to retain the top prize, the European Cup. Munro made the most of the opportunity, netting a hat-trick – including the club's first goal in continental football – as the Dons kicked off the campaign with a 10-0 home annihilation of the Icelandic side Reykjavik in their opening match.

By then, however, the young Taysider's footballing destiny had been decided by an eye-catching display, and another hat-trick, during a tournament that summer in the US. While playing for Aberdeen, in the guise of the Washington Whips for the purposes of the competition, he shone against Los Angeles Wolves (actually the men from Molineux) in the final, in the process riveting the attention of their manager, Ronnie Allen; the upshot was a £55,000 transfer to Wolverhampton in January 1968.

Mirroring his previous under-achievement in England, at first he struggled to make a mark, and it was not until he was converted frommidfielder to centre-half by Allen's successor, Bill McGarry, that he began to excel. First partnering JohnHolsgrove and then, for three-quarters of a decade, John McAlle, Munro became a key figure in an exhilarating side featuring the likes of midfielders Mike Bailey, Kenny Hibbitt and Jim McCalliog, winger Dave Wagstaffe and forwards Derek Dougan and John Richards.

In 1970-71 they finished fourth in the League title race and picked up the low-key Texaco Cup at season's end. In the following spring Munro starred and captained as Juventus were overcome in the quarter-finals of the Uefa Cup, then he scored in both legs of the semi-final win over Ferencvaros and put in a mighty shift as Wolves lost the final, 3-2 on aggegate, to Tottenham Hotspur. However, his best-remembered goal that term arrived in its closing night in a 2-1 victory over Leeds United which meant Don Revie's side missed out on the Championship, and thus a League and FA Cup double.

In 1972-73 Munro and Wolves suffered the mortification of semi-final defeat in both domestic knock-out competitions, but there was a major trophy to brandish at last in 1974 when Manchester City – Law, Lee, Bell, Summerbee et al – were beaten 2-1 in the League Cup final at Wembley.

Meanwhile Munro's exertions for his club had earned him full international honours, with four caps in 1971, the first being as a substitute for Frank McLintock in a 1-0 reverse to Northern Ireland at Hampden Park. In truth, his Scotland career never really ignited, and there followed a hiatus until he was picked five more times in 1975, his frustration highlighted by the fact that he finished on the winning side for his country only once, again against the Ulstermen in Glasgow. There were those who believed he deserved to be an international regular throughout his prime, but given that his competitors for a central-defensive berth included Billy McNeill (at first), Martin Buchan, Gordon McQueen, Jim Holton, Bobby Moncur and Colin Jackson, that was never likely.

Still, Munro remained a potent force for Wolves, even when they weredemoted in 1975-76, and after a fleeting loan stint with fellow Second Division side Hereford United he returned to Molineux to captain the West Midlanders to promotion as champions at the first attempt. Differences arose with the new manager Sammy Chung, however, and in October 1977 he was loaned to Celtic, the club he had idolised as a boy.

After being made temporary captain for his debut, at home to St Mirren, his day turned sour as he scored an own goal in a 2-1 defeat. Still, manager Jock Stein saw enough in the 30-year-old to pay £20,000 for his services that December, ending a contribution to the Wolves cause of 371 games (with 19 goals) which leaves him 20th in the club's all-time appearance list.

Munro, the last signing of Stein's illustrious Parkhead reign, was seen as a natural replacement for the seriously injured Pat Stanton, but at a time when the side was struggling – they finished fifth in the league table, 19 points behind champions Rangers – things never quite gelled and the peak of Munro's tenure was playing on the losing side against their Glasgow rivals in that season's League Cup final.

In the spring he was given a free transfer and enlisted with South Melbourne Hellas, managed by the former Wolves goalkeeper DaveMacLaren, combining his football with a job as an airport traffic officer. Later he coached briefly with Albion Rovers before guiding the fortunes of several Australian clubs.

Munro, who returned to Wolverhampton in 1991, suffered a stroke in 1993, after which his health continued to deteriorate, but despite being wheelchair-bound he was a regular attender at Molineux and an active member of Wolves' former players' association. An effervescent character, he bore his incapacity with remarkable courage, retaining his infectious sense of humour to the last.

Ivan Ponting

Francis Michael Munro, footballer: born Broughty Ferry, Dundee 25 October 1947; played for Dundee United 1963-66, Aberdeen 1966-68, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1968-77, Celtic 1977-78; capped nine times by Scotland 1971-75; married (separated; two sons); died Wolverhampton 16 August 2011.

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
tvReview: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
Review: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
Football Vine shows Suarez writhing in pain before launching counter attack
People White House officials refuse to make comment on 275,000 signatures that want Justin Bieber's US visa revoked
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
Lukas Podolski celebrates one of his two goals in Arsenal's win over Hull
Arts & Entertainment
Quentin Tarantino, director
The speeding train nearly hit this US politican during a lecture on rail safety
news As the saying goes, you have to practice what you preach
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Geography Teacher

£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...

Do you want to work in Education?

£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...

Private Client Senior Manager - Sheffield

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit