Tributes to great-grandfather who turned down chance to play for Norwich City to help others

Frank Cordwell

Frank Cordwell - Credit: Archant

The family of a Norfolk man, who turned down the chance to play for Norwich City to dedicate his life to serving others, has paid loving tribute to him, after he died recently.

Frank Cordwell was a budding footballer for the Canaries before he went on to forge a career that spanned the police, the fire brigade and RAF.

Born in the city in 1924, the proud Norwich man died on June 4, aged 96.

By the age of 15, Mr Cordwell was a promising amateur footballer, training regularly at Carrow Road.

With the onset of war in 1939, the league competition was abandoned after just three matches and Norwich City lost some of its first team players to war service.

Mr Cordwell was part of a process to try and build a new squad with youngsters, so that games could carry on in regional leagues.

Meanwhile, he had passed various tests and was accepted into the police force in Norwich.

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However, even that did not pan out as he thought, and on his first day in the police, he was told he was being transferred to Norwich fire brigade.

For the first two years of the war, Mr Cordwell found himself as part of red brigade, tackling fires not crime.

By 24, Mr Cordwell had realised his dream of joining the RAF and married his beloved wife, Olive - a bacteriologist with the Co-op laboratories.

After a period of training in Lincolnshire, he was handed the job of air gunner, operating in Lancasters, Wellingtons and Stirlings during the war.

Continuing to train for Norwich City while in the RAF, Mr Cordwell was picked for several Norwich City fixtures, and even played in an international match between English and Scottish members of the forces.

When the war ended, Mr Cordwell returned to Norwich. The canaries still had him registered as a football player and Chelsea and Sunderland were interested in signing him as a professional, but he opted to return to serve with the police.

In 1950, Frank left the force and went on to work for 35 years for Start-Rite, the shoe manufacturer, until retiring in 1986.

Mr Cordwell is survived by two daughters, seven grandchildren and 11 great grand children. Mr Cordwell's funeral was held on June 21.

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