The castle crest was used by Brentford from 1975 to 1993.

Promotion was won twice during that period, from the Fourth to Third Division in 1977/78 and from the third to second tier in 1991/92. The other highlight was a run to the sixth round of the FA Cup in 1988/89.

To celebrate the return of the castle crest on our 2022/24 second kit, we’ll be speaking with those who wore it best the first time around.

Our second interviewee of the season is Francis Joseph, who scored 44 goals for the Bees in 110 league appearances.

It was his very first day at Brentford that set the tone for Francis Joseph.

The striker joined the Bees from Wimbledon for £40,000 in the summer of 1982 and, before a ball had even been kicked in TW8, he found himself in the presence of a childhood hero. 

“My confidence was there straight away,” Francis explains. “In my first training session, who do you think I’m standing next to? Stan Bowles. 

“When I was playing in non-league, I’d go to pro games and I was a Chelsea/QPR supporter. If we didn’t have a midweek game, I’d go to Loftus Road – and that guy was the best player I’ve ever seen.

“In my first game for Brentford, we played Northampton at Wimbledon’s old training ground, just after I had left. We beat them something like 7-0 or 7-1 and I scored four goals. I thought to myself ‘this is the place to be.’”

Francis had made 51 league appearances for the Dons after being spotted playing for Hillingdon Borough and was starting to build a reputation for himself before his move to West London. 

But even with his levels of self-belief through the roof, it is likely he did not foresee just how abundant the fruits of his labour were about to become. 

Francis hit two on his debut - a 5-1 crushing of Bristol Rovers on the opening day of the 1982/83 season - and four in the next six games. Soon, the “Joe, Joe, have a go!” chant was ringing around Griffin Park on an almost weekly basis. By New Year’s Day 1983, he had 20 goals to his name.

Momentum slowed for both Francis and the Club during the second half of the campaign, somewhat owing to the broken leg suffered by fellow frontman Tony Mahoney, and they stuttered to a ninth-place finish when a promotion push had looked the more likely outcome. “To partner me, they tried a few different options, but Tony and I had it down,” he says.

By the end of the next campaign, Francis had netted another 24 goals, which took him to a half-century of goals for the Club. It was just about enough to steer Brentford clear of relegation by the slender margin of three points.

Sadly, his success in front of goal did not come without its pitfalls.

Francis was one of the first black players to play for Brentford, and he did so at a time when deplorable racist abuse from the terraces was rife.

“It wasn’t a problem with our home supporters, as they wouldn’t have been doing that. But the opposition would be throwing it in with racist chants from the stands. It was difficult,” he admits.

“My mum came to see me play once - and that was the only time because my she wasn’t into watching stuff like that; she’d prefer to be home watching the soaps, cleaning what had to be cleaned and cooking dinner. 

“During that game, I had a little tussle with Michael Tate - my team-mate later down the line at Reading. After the game, my mum - who is from Dominica and speaks broken French - said I get in trouble all the time. I asked her if she had seen the bananas and she said she hadn’t. I told her that was the reason I reacted.

“Away from home, a lot of the time, I think it was targeted at me because I scored goals and fans wanted to put me off – but they didn’t realise there were other people who scored goals. When the ball was in play, I didn’t hear it. But it was a different story when the ball went dead.”

Francis Joseph

Asked about his memories of the 1983/84 season, Francis quickly lands upon one in particular: the two-legged Milk Cup second round clash with the Liverpool team that would go on to win the competition, as well as the First Division and European Cup in the same year.

“It was nice to play against such an iconic team, but the bottom line is that I pulled my hamstring – which was my favourite injury – about three weeks beforehand,” he says, still a tad irked to this day.

“Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to play and the management wanted me to play so I had two injections the day before the game, which had 24 hours to sink in. I played 45 minutes of a reserve game to see if the hamstring would hold up and the next evening, we were playing Liverpool. It felt good in those 45 minutes, so I was in the squad.

“During the warm-up I was doing the stretches I would do religiously and I over-stretched my hamstring. I thought: ‘For f***’s sake, I’m not going to make it’. I thought that if I went down in the first 40 to 45 minutes, I’d take it as I wasn’t ready. But I lasted the full 90 minutes and made the goal [in the 4-1 first leg defeat].”

The second leg ended 4-0, contributing to an eventual 8-1 aggregate defeat. Francis will never forget being given the chance to share the pitch with such esteemed opposition, though.

With the way that things had gone during Francis’ first two years in TW8, it seemed as though, under Frank McLintock - appointed in February 1984 as Fred Callaghan’s successor - he was only going to get better.

However, disaster struck after just three league games of 1984/85.

Harry McNally’s Wigan travelled south and returned north later that evening, having been defeated 2-0 by the Bees, courtesy of goals from Keith Cassells and Danis Salman.

But the shine was taken off the victory altogether when Francis suffered a broken leg, just as Mahoney had done two years prior, after an accidental collision with Steve Walsh.

“It was one of those situations where I was running on to the ball, got hold of it, got it out of my feet and tried to strike it. I’ll never forget it. 

“Steve turned his body, but his foot was up to block the shot. I had the shot and the follow-through hit the bottom of his boot and the impact broke my leg. I didn’t blame him at all, but it wasn’t a clean break.”

To make matters worse, the severity of the injury kept him out for the season and robbed him of a chance to play in the Freight Rover Trophy final at Wembley in June 1985 - ironically, against the Latics.

“It was so disappointing. I would have loved to have played in that game and we would have won if I’d played,” Francis says, without an ounce of doubt.

“Steve Walsh played centre-half in that game, too. I had just got off crutches and was limping when I saw him and he told me there had been no animosity. I said to him, ‘Steve, we’ve played against each other for a few years, mate – I know you didn’t try and do me. Just enjoy your game’. 

“I probably shouldn’t have said that as we got beaten 3-1.”

The streak of misfortune was not about to end there.

“The physio I had was Eddie Lyons. If you had an injury – an ankle injury especially – he had an ice bucket and you had to put your foot in there and could only take it out when he said so!

“He had me up on the terraces running, which was good conditioning. I couldn’t fault anything about the fitness of my recovery. He would tell me to do some sprints, while he looked after someone else. And that helped me.

“We used to go to Richmond Park and do some running - and that was a hard run if you weren’t fit. I had just got back from the broken leg and I told Frank I was feeling something in the shin where I had broken it. He was adamant it was in my mind. 

“He said he’d make a couple of phone calls and instead of going to the surgeon, I went to get some acupuncture. This guy stuck some needles in my leg and lit them – and it didn’t work. Obviously Frank wanted me back – no disrespect to any of the other strikers, but I was the goalscorer and I was good at what I did.

“Then I broke it again the following season. 

“What they should have done, the surgeon told me, is to break it again and it would have healed perfectly. I came back after 16 months and broke it the second game back as it hadn’t healed properly.”

How big a blow was that, mentally?

“When I broke it again, I thought ‘What have you done on this planet to deserve this? Are you a wicked person reincarnated?’ But I had come back from a broken leg once and I told myself I could do it again. And that’s what I did.

“The first time, I worked my arse off. I was so jealous it was unbelievable. I had been working in the gym all flipping morning and the other guys came back from the training ground and had a shower ready to go to whatever pub or restaurant.

“After lunch, I was going in the bloody swimming pool so I was desperate to get back!” 

The pubs around the stadium were often frequented by Francis and his team-mates - including his brother Roger between 1984 and 1988 - when he was not on the treatment table, too.

“We had a good few drinks,” he laughs. “There were times when we finished training and some of us went to The New Inn because the food there at lunchtime was quality. Now, you’d stay in the training ground complex and have all of your meals there.

“We used to go to The Bricklayers Arms to have a couple of pints, too. I’m not saying it was crazy, but don’t get me wrong, there were some stupid times where we’d have two hours kip and be back getting ready to go training. It was normal in those days.”

Francis Joseph

Finally injury-free, he returned to the fold for the 1986/87 season. It was sod’s law that it turned out to be his last.

McLintock’s Bees never really got going, in truth, and he left in January 1987 after being told - in the wake of a 4-1 defeat to Port Vale - his contract would not be renewed at the end of the season.

In the meantime, Steve Perryman had been brought in from Oxford United to begin the transition from the pitch to the dugout. For Francis, it was the beginning of the end.

“Me and Steve had previous - and as soon as he got appointed player-coach, I knew they were looking to get Frank out. 

“We played a few games together in the same team at Griffin Park and then, one day, one of the apprentices said ‘the boss’ wanted to see me. I knew Frank had resigned and I knew what was coming - I was gone. 

“He said they had had two enquiries about me, that’s how he softened the blow. One from Wimbledon, in the First Division, and one from Leyton Orient in the Fourth Division. I told him to give Dave Bassett a ring to say I was coming back to Wimbledon and I walked out of the door.”

“Who goes from the Third Division to the First if they haven’t got ability?”

He never pulled on a red and white shirt again, with a loan spell with the Dons followed by another short stint with HJK Helsinki in Finland, where he had played previously during loans away from Wimbledon during his first spell at Plough Lane. 

In July 1987, he left West London for good when he joined Reading on a permanent deal for a fee of £20,000.

Despite an exit that in no way befitted his contribution to the Club, the 62-year-old is taken aback when asked how he looks upon his time as a Bee.

He pauses. “Do I have to answer that? 

“I’ve got to mention Wimbledon because they made the player I was before I went to Brentford. 

“But Brentford made me aware of the glory we could have had. We had a very good team, but because of injuries, suspensions and other things, we didn’t progress how we should have progressed. Everybody has dips and we had a dip, but it was a major dip. 

“Being at Brentford was absolutely marvellous. All the staff and the people behind the scenes were excellent and showed respect. If you played for Brentford, you knew this was your home. That’s the way I looked upon it.”

This interview first appeared in our Match Programme. Fill the gaps in your collection while stocks last.