A tribute to the late George Francis, whose funeral takes place this morning.
George Francis - one of Brentford’s finest ever players – is buried today [Tuesday] at Breakspear Crematorium.
He died on Wednesday October 22, at Wexham Park Hospital in Slough, after a long fight with bowel cancer.
A minute’s applause was held for George before Saturday’s game with Derby County to mark the passing of the second highest goalscorer in the Club’s history, behind former strike partner Jim Towers.
Their partnership yielded more than 250 goals between them, and the two would become known as the ‘terrible twins’, a nickname given to them by a London Evening Newspaper.
Francis and Towers would terrorise opposition defences for Brentford over a six-year period, which saw the Club go agonisingly close to promotion to the second tier of English football.
Their styles complemented each other; Towers long range shots would often yield goals, whereas Francis would harass the opposition, and be in the thick of goalmouth scrambles, often scoring off parts of his body other than his feet just by being in the right place at the right time.
Born in Acton on February 4 1934, Francis joined the club as a junior with Towers, having both played for their local cinema sides and played schoolboy football in the Acton, Brentford, and Chiswick Schools’ League.
The team was managed by Alf Bew, who scoured West Middlesex to find local talent good enough to play for the Club.
George undertook his national service with Towers in Germany, enlisting with the Royal Irish Fusiliers.
He signed professional forms on January 2 1953 but Towers would beat him to the First Team by six months - George would have to wait until February 19 1955 to make his First Team debut.
This came in a Division Three (South) match against Walsall and Francis made a dream start to his Bees career, scoring a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw.
He would play 18 matches the following season, scoring eight goals, which is where his partnership with Towers started to blossom over the rest of the decade.
In September 1956, George missed a home game against Brighton and Hove Albion in bizarre circumstances – taking a pre-match nap he overslept and arrived too late to be included in the team.
However, two months later he scored all four goals in Brentford’s 4-0 demolition of Southampton.
That game was on his way to completing 100 consecutive league appearances for the Club – a feat Towers matched.
In 1957/58, when Brentford narrowly missed out on the Third Division (Southern Section) Championship, Towers and Francis would account for 51 of the 77 goals scored that season.
The next season, The Bees were still challenging for promotion; George scored 24 league and cup goals.
However, his best season came in 1959/60, when he scored 31 goals in 48 games league and cup games, featuring as an ever-present for Malcolm MacDonald’s side.
That season featured a hat-trick for George at Loftus Road as Brentford destroyed their neighbours 4-2 – one of his finest hours in a Bees shirt.
In the summer of 1961, both Francis and Towers were sold to arch rivals Queens
Park Rangers for £8,000, which came as a shock to most Brentford supporters, despite Rangers public admiration for George earlier in the year.
Living in Acton, near to Rangers Shepherd’s Bush home, the move was an easy one; George had also seen Brentford’s squad reduced to around 16 players, a handful of those part-time.
Neither forward was replaced by the Club and Brentford were relegated to the Fourth Division for the first time in their history in May 1962.
By that time George had returned to Griffin Park in October 1961 after making only two appearances for Rangers.
He made 37 appearances and scored 15 goals during his brief return to Griffin Park and was sold to Gillingham on the eve of the 1962/63 season.
George won a Fourth Division Championship medal in 1964 for the Kent club, scoring the goal that clinched their promotion at Newport County.
He ended his career with Southern League sides Hastings United and Hillingdon Borough.
Overall, he made 260 league appearances for Brentford, scoring 124 goals.
With George’s playing days over, he would later become a Season Ticket Holder at Chelsea and drive a London Black Cab.
It was often misquoted that George fathered ex-England international Gerry Francis; in fact Gerry’s father was called Roy, a professional at Brentford in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
George was inducted into the Brentford FC Hall of Fame in March this year at the Club’s home match with Bradford City.
Brentford Football Club sends its deepest condolences George’s family and friends at this time.
This article first appeared in last Saturday's Edition of Bees Review.