Frizzell began his playing career at Greenock Morton as a forward in 1957. Three years later, he joined Oldham Athletic, where he played 318 matches and scored 57 goals in the wing-half and full-back roles.
A managerial career was started in March 1970 when Frizzell became manager of Oldham Athletic, following a spell as a coach under Jack Rowley. At the time, the club was near the bottom of Division Four, with the distinct possibility of having to re-apply for League status. He then guided the team to nine wins and six draws in the remaining 22 matches and a comfortable midtable finish. In the following season Oldham achieved promotion to the Division Three and in 1974 they won the divisional league championship. Despite his success at the helm of the club, Frizzell was dismissed in June 1982. He was at the time the second longest serving manager in the Football League.
After a year unemployed, Frizzell was invited to join Manchester City as an assistant to Billy McNeill. He became manager after the exit of his former boss in October 1986. Frizzell was sacked in May 1987 as the team was relegated to the Division Two under a serious financial crisis. He returned to the club in 1994 to work as chief scout but left in 1998.