Wed 13 Apr 2022 19:35

Frank Dyton sadly passed away on Saturday 9th April 2022 (aged 91)

Frank was born and raised in a working class part of Neasden, London. He lived with his Mum, Dad and younger brother, David. Frank lived through the London Blitz of WW2, and recalled entire houses being destroyed and neighbouring families wiped out during the bombing campaign. As a young boy, Frank was football mad, and his Dad regularly took him to watch Chelsea play (he became a life-long supporter) However, Frank was a bright lad who successfully past his 11+ and was accepted at Kilburn Grammar school, which played rugby rather than football. Frank soon really took to this new sport and was selected a scrum half for the school’s 1st XV. His family moved down to Southend in 1947, and Frank joined SRFC .

He made his debut with the 1st team in 1947 aged 17 and carried on playing for the 1sts until the late 1950s. Frank was quite big for a scrum half in those days, at around 13 stone and 5’11”, and soon established his reputation as a physical scrum half, who could also operate as a 9th forward. However, he took the skills of a scrum half very seriously and would often practice his dive pass even if he was alone in the local park , launching his practise ball at a stick implanted in the ground! For many years, Frank formed a formidable half back partnership with Tom Webb and played with many life-long friends such as Peter Johncox, Tony Rimmer, Dai Gash and Ken Light. Back in those days, SRFC frequently played the 2nd teams of the big London clubs such as Wasps, Harlequins and Richmond as well as the best 1st teams in the South East outside of London and the London university hospital teams, who were all strong back then.

When Frank finished his 1st team playing career in the late 1950s, he stopped playing for a while, to focus on his family and career. He married Rita in 1960. Their marriage lasted for 62 years , and their love for each other remained throughout those 62 years, just as strong in the end, as it was at the beginning. After getting married , Frank had 2 sons, Richard and Chris, both of whom also played for the club at various times.
No doubt over a couple of pints, Frank was persuaded to lace his boots up again, and in the 1960s he played for the Extra A (4ths?) for a number of seasons and played No. 8, also skippering the team . This team had some very successful seasons including amassing a record points tally and unbeaten run.

Frank enjoyed the social rugby of the Extra As and could also recount tales of many a good night out after the games!
Frank was involved in the committee which organised the famous Easter Festivals back in the 1960s. These festivals were jointly organised by Southend and Westcliff RFC, and the 2 clubs would join forces and work closely together to deliver these memorable events. The annual Easter Festival was always a tremendous success, with clubs taking part from all over the country and from France and Wales. The Festival would culminate in a large black tie Ball , which would always be a very memorable night
When his playing days were finally over, Frank held many committee roles at the club including Fixtures Secretary, Chairman of Playing (predecessor to DOR) and was Club President between 1988 – 1992.

Being a Civil Engineer, Frank was interested in construction projects. He assisted with the construction of the first clubhouse in 1957. This was a large, modified site hut donated by Shell refinery and was installed at Roots Hall, close the Southend United Football Stadium. Then in 1980/81, the club undertook an ambitious move to a brand new purpose built clubhouse at Warners Bridge Park. Again, Frank was heavily involved in the construction of the new clubhouse, which was unrivalled in Essex back in the early 1980s. In 1990, Frank lead a task force to construct a 250 seater stand. The stand was opened in 1991 and celebrated with a 1st team match against a strong Presidents select XV and a visit from the then Chairman of the RFU (Dudley Woods) .

Frank always loved being at the club and around the club buildings he helped to construct, and he carried on as a 1st team supporter from the touchlines for many years and until he was no longer able to do so. His favourite spot was over on the far bank closest to the railway line, where he believed he had the best view of the matches and could chat with many of his old mates
Frank had a successful career as a Civil Engineer and worked his way up to become MD of his firm based in Fulham. When he retired , he was invited by the EU onto a committee to draft Civil Engineering EU-wide standards, which involved some travel around Europe and meeting Civil Engineers from other countries , which he really enjoyed. Frank was never one to slow down or retire in front of the TV, he transformed a number of farm buildings in the west of Cornwall to high spec holiday homes, and these were used to good effect on a couple of occasions when he invited the 1st team and coaches/physios to stay at the properties when they had fixtures against Cornish sides, such as Redruth.

Frank had many other interests such as squash and sailing. He was a lifetime member of Essex Yacht Club. He was also a regular congregation member at St James Church and a committed Christian.. He had academic leanings, and in his late 50s completed a 2 year Masters Degree in Construction Law, along with his elder son Richard. He was an animal lover and over the years owned many dogs, cats and fish!
Frank made many great friends during his 74 year association and membership of SRFC. There are simply too many to mention. Frank was never happier than being down at Warners Bridge Park on a Saturday afternoon to watch the 1st team, or if they were not at home, the Priors or any other Southend teams who happened to be playing. Frank was very poorly and frequently in hospital from late January until his passing on 9 April. Even during this time, he always asked about the 1st team result on a Saturday, and his day would be brighter if the boys had won.

Frank will be hugely missed by his family, including Rita, his sons Richard and Chris , Chloe his Daughter-in-law and his 6 Grandchildren, not to mention all of his friends at the rugby club and beyond. He was a man considered to be a true Gentleman by all who met him , kind, friendly with a zest for life. He was optimistic and positive, never letting anything get him down, and he always had a smile for everyone he met. He lived a remarkable , varied and fulfilling life. The funeral and wake will take place on 28 April at the Crematorium and rugby club. Further details will be posted by the family soon.

Frank Making Aspeech when the stand opened 1991
1st team staying at Franks place in Cornwall
Frank with 2 old friends.....
Frank With Rita at a rugby club ball
Frank at a rugby club promotion party
Frank as a player 1957

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