Frank Coulston
Frank Coulston
Frank Coulston
● Frank Coulston, c1970 (ABC)

born in Scotland

Frank Coulston was born on Monday, 5th October, 1942, in Stranraer, Wigtownshire.

The 5' 9 (10st 8lbs) forward signed for Willie Thornton's Thistle on Monday, 8th May, 1967, having most recently been with Stranraer.

Aged 24, he made his debut appearance on Tuesday, 22nd August, 1967, in a 5-0 defeat away to Celtic in the Glasgow Cup.

Frank scored his first two goals for Thistle on Saturday, 7th October, 1967, in a 2-1 win at home to Stirling Albion in the SFL First Division.

He scored the last of his 84 goals on Saturday, 12th October, 1974, in a 2-1 win at home to Dumbarton in the SFL First Division.

He played his last game for the club on Wednesday, 12th March, 1975, in a 2-0 friendly win at home to Vejle Boldklub, having clocked up an impressive 271 appearances as a Jag.

Frank's club-list included Stranraer, Queen's Park, Jordanhill College, Partick Thistle, Arbroath and Stenhousemuir.

Bio Extra

Born and raised in Stranraer, Frank took part in every sport going as a youth, but football became his number one passion, and he was good enough to be playing with Stranraer reserves whilst still at school. He moved to Glasgow to study accountancy and joined with Queen's Park in July, 1963. He decided that accountancy wasn't for him though, and enrolled at Jordanhill College, where he trained to be a physical education teacher. Frank played with the college team for a couple of years while he was there. Returning to Stranraer for the final year of his studies, he once again signed for the Blues, making 14 League appearances in their Second Division campaign of 1966-67. Frank's progress caught the eye of Willie Thornton, who signed him to Thistle at the tail end of that season. Frank took a job as a PE teacher at a school in Bishopbriggs, and he looked forward to a new chapter.

Frank made his debut in a Glasgow cup tie at Parkhead a few months later, and put his first two goals on the board in October, securing a 2-1 League win at home to Stirling Albion. Thistle finished mid-table in 10th, but the stability was rocked in September 1968 when Thornton made a shock departure to become assistant manager at Rangers. Pretty much two full seasons under Scot Symon followed. He had been highly succesful at Rangers (one trip to Berwick aside!) but couldn't replicate the magic at Firhill and Thistle nosedived, suffering relegation for the first time in 68 years in April, 1970, a season horribilis.

Davie McParland took over, Frank now playing under his third manager at Firhill. It took them a short while to get accustomed to the seaside League, but once they hit their stride there was no looking back. Symon's lows of 1969-70 were instantly transformed to McParland's highs of 1970-71 as Thistle romped to their first League title in 71 years. Frank, in his late 20s, was one of the older heads in the team, and he formed a deadly partnership with young Jimmy Bone during that campaign. The pair racked up 50 competitive goals between them that season, Frank leading the way with a massive 28 goals being added to his account. Denis McQuade (15), Ronnie Glavin (10) and Bobby Lawrie (9) grabbed their share too - there were goals aplenty in this exciting young team.

The goals continued at the higher level in 1971-72 too, with Bone, McQuade and Coulston racking up over 50 competitive goals between them. McParland's young lions set the season's tone early with a 3-2 win over Rangers, and really laid down the statement that "Thistle were back." They finished 7th that term - the best finish since 1964 - and, for the first time ever, won the League Cup, sending shockwaves around the world by the manner of the final victory.

Six League Cup goals from Frank helped Thistle on their way to that glory day, including the most important goal of his career, which came in the second leg of the Quarter Final at home to St Johnstone. Thistle were down by 2 goals to nil from the first leg at Muirton Park and a semi final spot was looking unlikely. However, they were inspired in front of 8,414 at Firhill, as a classic under the lights unfolded.

Thistle huffed and puffed for the first thirty minutes, making no impact. It was St Johnstone who looked dangerous and likely to add to their aggregate lead. Things, however, were about to liven up. Bone rode two tackles before squeezing a shot in from a narrow angle (30). A minute later it was 2-0 when Coulston fired one in off a post from the edge of the box. Donaldson in the Saints goal was blameless for these goals, but he had to take the blame for the third. He gathered a long lob safely but dropped it when under pressure from Coulston, and Bone tapped the ball into the net. In the second half St Johnstone scored with a penalty when Rough impeded Connolly. Back level on aggregate, St Johnstone pressed for a winner, and came close with shots from distance that went narrowly past.

It looked however as if extra time would be needed to settle the tie but gradually Thistle built up some sustained pressure, and when Donaldson went walkabout when he tried to gather a through ball out on the wing, Bone squared the ball to Coulston who found the empty net for Thistle's fourth. Five minutes from time Gibson beat two men and while under pressure from a third, hit a hard shot past the keeper. Thistle went through 5-3 on aggregate. And, yes, one John Lambie esquire was booked during the match! And there you have it ladies and gentleman, the Coulston and Bone show which was simply too hot to handle for many a team. “A devastating display” was how the Glasgow Herald described it.

The best was yet to come of course - the grand final! Celtic had been to 4 European Cup semi finals in recent years - and would do so again that season - and yet the Jags raced into a 4 goal lead after just 37 minutes of play. Frank Bough, the Grandstand presenter, could only stutter his lines in disbelief as the half-time score from Hampden came through “I think that is wrong. We’ll check that”. It wasn’t wrong though, as STV's Arthur Montford confirmed in his classic commentary. “What a sensation!” he exclaimed, as the goals from Alex Rae, Bobby Lawrie, Denis McQuade and Jimmy Bone left Celtic stunned. Kenny Dalglish’s second-half consolation did nothing to prevent one of the greatest shocks in Scottish football history. Speaking in the Evening Times of 30th March 2012, Davie McParland revealed his blueprint to beat Celtic that day:


We had a game plan to get at Celtic down the flanks where Denis McQuade and Bobby Lawrie had the pace to get behind their full-backs and then get the ball into Frank Coulston and Jimmy Bone - and it worked a treat. But I think Celtic basically underestimated us. I always felt that if everybody in our side played to their best then we could hurt them and so it proved. While everyone knew about Celtic's big name players Bobby Murdoch, Jimmy Johnstone, Davie Hay and the like, we were anything but household names, but it was a Thistle team full of boys who could play.

Two games in the UEFA Cup in September 1972 were a fine reward for Frank and his teammates and, after the narrow 1-0 defeat away to Honvéd, hopes were high that the Jags could make progress. 16,513 were under the lights at Firhill, hoping for another comeback glory night. Frank tested their 'keeper on a few occasions, but the Hungarian's held firm and gave Thistle a masterclass in the counter-offensive game as they stole a somewhat flattering 3-0 win. The League Cup team was broken up all too quickly for many Jags fan liking, but economics have always dictated hard to Thistle. Internal politics led to manager McParland's departure at the end of season 1973-74, and Frank played under his 4th and final Firhill boss - Bertie Auld - in season 1974-75. It was a very challenging season with a simple remit - finish in the Top 10 (of the 18 team League) or you'll be in the newly formed second tier for 1975-76. Thistle didn't quite make the cut - they finished 13th - so it was a disappointing end to the story for Frank.

He had initially made the move to Arbroath in May of 1975, but had a change of heart by the start of the new season and landed back "home" at Stranraer. His final season in the senior game was played out in the Second Division with Stenhousemuir, where he was a near ever-present in 1976-77, maintaining a decent scoring ratio of 1 in 3. Frank then moved into coaching with Falkirk, before heading to Jim Fleeting’s Stirling Albion. He followed Fleeting to Kilmarnock in 1989 and joined the SFA two years later to be director of adult coaching and a scout for Andy Roxburgh and then Craig Brown, the former national managers. By the time he retired in August, 2003, he was assistant director of football development. Even then, going into his 60s, Coulston helped the SFA “five or six days a month”, and still continued to play football every Friday.

With his final tally of 80 competitive goals in 8 full seasons, Frank Coulston sits comfortably in the all-time Top 20 of Partick Thistle hitmen. His League Cup winners medal of 1971 was his great reward, and secures his status forever as a legend of the club.


© The Thistle Archive 2015-2024. All rights reserved. Third-party trademarks and content are the property of their respective owners, and subject to their own copyright terms and conditions. See the website links provided in each case.