Frank Stokes came to Manly as a raw 17 year old kid after been spotted by Bob Fulton on an end of season trip to Darwin.
The visiting Sea Eagles played a came of footy against a local invitational side and a young aboriginal boy used all his natural skills of evasion and pace to bamboozle the visiting professionals from Sydney.
This boy was Frank Stokes and Frankie made the bold move to leave his family and ancestral home of the Northern Territory to chase fame and fortune in the big city as a professional footballer.
Frank was solid as a rock and built pretty close to the ground. His thighs resembled Choppy Close’s legs i.e. something like tree trunks. Despite his nuggetty stature he had blinding pace and could step off both feet.
After finishing school at St Pauls Manly, Stokes made his way through the ranks at the Sea Eagles and eventually made his first grade debut in 1990 under the coaching of Graham Lowe.
He had now found a permanent position on the wing and although he never really cemented a spot in first grade he played 51 games over the next 5 seasons. He occasionally was used at fullback or even 5/8 and proved to be a worthy back up player for a star studded Sea Eagles back line of era which included players of the calibre of Cliff Lyons, Michael O’Connor and Matthew Ridge.
Frank scored 17 tries in first grade for the Sea Eagles during his career but his most memorable would have been at Parramatta Stadium when he took a Parramatta kick in the Manly in goal area and after beating a number of Parra defenders raced over 100 metres to score a try which not only devastated the Eels team but also about 17,000 of their supporters.
As Manly started to build up for their Golden era of the mid nineties, Frank was released after 5 seasons playing the top grade for the club, he was still quite young, only in his mid twenties.
He could have continued his career in the Sydney competition but he always wanted to return to his home in Darwin and he eventually made his way there finishing his career playing for the Brothers club in the NTRL competition.
Frank Stokes – tree trunks for legs