The Football Club is very saddened to learn of the passing of former player, Francis Joseph.
Francis joined Gillingham from Sheffield United for a £5,000 fee. He signed his contract shortly after our 1-1 home draw with Southend United on Saturday 25 February 1989 and went straight into the starting line-up for the visit of Preston North End on the following Tuesday, a fixture we lost 3-1.
The Kilburn-born forward went on to make nine further starts and five substitute appearances during the remainder of 1988-89, with his only goal coming in the 3-0 victory over Mansfield Town in mid-April. The Gills were relegated to the basement division at the end of that campaign.
Joseph (on the right in image) featured for our first-team on just five occasions in the 1989-90 season, four of which he either started on the bench or was substituted during the game. He last featured in a 3-0 home defeat against Scunthorpe United at the beginning of September, and left the club to join Crewe Alexandra in December 1989, with his record in our colours consisting of 20 matches in all competitions (13 starts and seven substitute appearances), in which he scored one goal.
His Football League career ran from 1980 to 1992, during which he played against Gillingham for three other clubs. There were two appearances for Wimbledon in the 1981-82 season, four for Brentford, when he scored in a 1-1 draw at Griffin Park in December 1982 and a 3-2 defeat at the same venue in February 1984, and once for Sheffield United, at Bramall Lane, a month before joining the Gills.
Francis also played in the Football League for Reading, Fulham and Barnet on a permanent basis, with loan spells at Bristol Rovers and Aldershot. His most prolific period of his career came when he was at Brentford, for whom he scored 55 goals in 137 games between 1982 and 1987. After his Football League career ended, he featured in non-league for Slough Town, Wokingham Town, Leatherhead, Dulwich Hamlet, Chertsey Town, Walton & Hersham and Chesham, in addition to spells abroad with Finnish clubs Honka, JYP77 and HJK Helsinki, Belgian outfit Racing Ghent and Tampa Bay Rowdies in the USA. He returned for a second stint at Chertsey Town, this time as player coach, and went on to coach at Wealdstone, for whom he had played as a teenager prior to his Football League career.
Gillingham Football Club would like to express their condolences to Francis’ family, friends and loved ones at this difficult time.