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George Francis
Born (1934-02-04)4 February 1934
Acton, England
Died 22 October 2014(2014-10-22) (aged 80)[1]
Slough, England

George Edward Francis (4 February 1934 – 22 October 2014) was an English professional , best remembered for his two spells as a centre forward in the Football League with Brentford. He is a member of the Brentford Hall of Fame and is synonymous with Jim Towers – their close friendship and strike partnership saw the pair dubbed 'The Terrible Twins'.[2]

Career

Early years

A centre forward, Francis began his career as a schoolboy with a team fielded by the Odeon cinema in his hometown of Acton.[3] He regularly played against Jim Towers of the local Gaumont cinema team and the pair would later link up as professionals at Brentford.[3] Francis later represented the Acton, Brentford & Chiswick schools' team.[3]

Brentford

Francis signed for the junior team at Second Division club Brentford in 1949, after rejecting an offer from Blackburn Rovers.[4] He progressed to the youth team and signed his first professional contract in January 1953,[5] but had to wait until 1955 to make his first team debut, which came in a Third Division South match versus Walsall on 19 February.[6] Francis had a dream start, scoring a late equaliser in a 2–2 draw.[6] He made two further appearances in what remained of the 1954–55 season and scored another goal.[6] Francis made a minor breakthrough into the first team during the 1955–56 season, making 18 appearances, scoring eight goals and beginning a strike partnership with friend Jim Towers.[3][6] He made his full breakthrough in the 1956–57 season and scored 24 goals in 44 appearances.[6]

Francis' best season came in 1959–60, when he was an ever-present and scored 31 goals in 48 appearances.[6] A memorable moment in his season was scoring a hat-trick in a 4–2 victory at Loftus Road, home of West London rivals Queens Park Rangers.[3] At the end of a lean 1960–61 season (in which Francis scored only 10 goals),[6] the abolition of the maximum wage rule saw Francis and Towers depart the Bees.[3] Francis scored 121 goals in 243 appearances over the course of six years in the first team at Griffin Park.[3]

Queens Park Rangers

Francis and Towers joined Third Division club Queens Park Rangers in an £8,000 deal in May 1961.[1][3] Francis failed to last long at Loftus Road and scored three goals in as many appearances before departing in October 1961.[3][7][8]

Return to Brentford

Francis returned to Brentford in October 1961 and immediately won his place back in the team, though his 14 league goals couldn't prevent the Bees from suffering relegation to Fourth Division.[3] He departed the club at the end of the season, having made 37 appearances and scored 15 goals during his brief return.[6] Across his two spells with Brentford, Francis made 280 appearances and scored 136 goals.[3] He was inducted into the Brentford Hall of Fame in March 2014.[2]

Gillingham

Francis signed for Fourth Division club Gillingham in August 1962 for a £4,000 fee.[3] He scored 12 goals in 35 league games during the 1962–63 season,[9] but the Gills missed out on promotion with a fifth-place finish.[10] Five months into the season, Francis was joined by his old friend Jim Towers at the club.[3] Though he made only 16 appearances, Francis scored seven goals during the 1963–64 season and scored the winner versus Newport County on the final day,[9] which saw Gillingham clinch the Fourth Division championship.[3] He departed the club at the end of the campaign,[3] having scored 21 goals in 58 games for the Gills.[11]

Non-league football

After his departure from Gillingham, Francis dropped into non-League football and closed out his career with spells at Southern League clubs Hastings United, Hillingdon Borough and Stevenage Town .[3][12]

Personal life

Francis undertook his National Service together with Jim Towers in the Royal Irish Fusiliers in Germany.[3][5] After retiring from football, he became a black cab driver and held a season ticket at Stamford Bridge.[5] Francis died on 22 October 2014 at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough,[5] after a long battle with bowel cancer.[13] He was 80 years old.[13]

Honours

Gillingham

  • Football League Fourth Division: 1963–64[9][10]

Individual

  • Brentford Hall of Fame[2]

Career statistics

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Brentford 1954–55[6] Third Division South 3 2 0 0 3 2
1955–56[6] 17 7 1 1 18 8
1956–57[6] 41 23 3 1 44 24
1957–58[6] 45 22 1 0 46 22
1958–59[6] Third Division 45 22 4 2 49 24
1959–60[6] 46 26 2 5 48 31
1960–61[6] 31 8 2 2 2 0 35 10
Total 228 110 13 11 2 0 243 121
Queens Park Rangers 1961–62[7] Third Division 2 1 1 2 3 3
Brentford 1961–62[6] Third Division 32 14 5 1 37 15
Brentford total 260 124 18 12 2 0 280 136
Gillingham 1962–63[9] Fourth Division 35 12 3 1 1 0 39 13
1963–64[9] 16 7 0 0 3 1 19 8
Total 51 19 3 1 4 1 58 21
Career total 311 143 21 13 6 3 338 159

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "G". Barry Hugman's Footballers. http://hugmansfootballers.com/player/6774. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Wickham, Chris. "George Francis Added To Hall Of Fame". https://www.brentfordfc.com/news/2014/march/george-francis-added-to-hall-of-fame/. 
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 Haynes, Graham; Coumbe, Frank (2006). Timeless Bees: Brentford F.C. Who's Who 1920–2006. Harefield: Yore Publications. pp. 186–188. ISBN 978-0955294914. 
  4. Brentford Matchday Magazine versus Watford. Quay Design of Poole. 24 January 1998. p. 25. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Chapman, Mark. "A genuine Brentford legend: George Francis". https://www.brentfordfc.com/news/2014/november/a-genuine-brentford-legend-george-francis/. 
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 White, Eric, ed (1989). 100 Years Of Brentford. Brentford FC. pp. 383–386. ISBN 0951526200. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Seasonal Stats – 1961–62". http://www.qprnet.com/uploads/1/2/0/8/120823999/qpr1961.xls. 
  8. White 1989, p. 243.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 "Gillingham FC Career Details". Gillingham FC Scrapbook. http://gillinghamfcresults.atspace.cc/DisplayPlayer.php?Player=Francis,George. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Gillingham F.C. at the Football Club History Database
  11. Day, Richard. "On This Day...". http://www.gillinghamfootballclub.com/news/article/otd-feb-4-624165.aspx?pageView=full#anchored. 
  12. White 1989, p. 246.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Brentford legend George Francis dies aged 80". https://www.brentfordfc.com/news/2014/october/brentford-legend-george-francis-dies-aged-80/. 

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