Beesotted’s resident old codger, Larry Signy, remembers two more players that Brentford die-hards have loved and should never forget – namely George Francis and the late, great, Jim Towers. Between them, the Terrible Twins (as they were known) are the Bees’ two highest-ever scorers – Jim [pictured above far left] on top with 163 and George [sitting to his right] slightly behind on 136. And they managed it in just eight seasons as pros with the club. We’ll let Larry tell you the rest of the story…
The two of ‘em grew up together in Acton, playing against each other both as schoolboys and for rival cinema teams (George for the Odeon and Jim for the Gaumont), and both progressed through school teams and signed on as juniors for Brentford together. They even signed up for the then compulsory National Service together, serving in (of all things for two West London lads) the Royal Irish Fusiliers!
The Twins even made their first team debuts in the old Division Three South around the same time, Jim first (scoring on his introduction against Shrewsbury in September 1954) and George following him (also scoring) against Walsall the following February. Apparently completely unalike, Jim was a big burly battering ram with sleeked-back straight hair while George was a slim, wiry guy with a curly thatch.
Jim was the one who attracted attention – George more your Cockney sparrow. But they were a real pair. A marriage made in a soccer heaven. Francis and Towers both played under three Brentford managers, Tommy Lawton, Bill Dodgin Snr and Malcolm MacDonald – and while it was Dodgin who gave them both their first team starts, it was not until Malcolm MacDonald teamed them with inside-right Johnny Rainford in 1958 that they really began to flourish.
Rainford, Towers and Francis were, in my mind, on a par with Brentford’s later all-international inside forward trio of Johnny Brooks, Billy McAdams and John Dick. I can pay them no higher tribute than that. Playing with Rainford and wingers George McLeod and John Docherty, Towers and Francis just couldn’t stop scoring. In one spell, George, Jim and Johnny played an astonishing 100 consecutive games together (well, to be honest George only managed 97 of those) during which they netted 139 of Brentford’s total 173 goals.
At the time, surprise, surprise, Brentford was a club in deep financial mire. But despite being heavily in debt, The Bees still turned down offers for the Twins – £12,000 from Norwich for Jim and £9,000 from Reading for George. In the end, though, they had to go – and it broke the hearts of supporters that it was for a paltry £8,000 for the pair (buy one, get one free?) to that lot down the road at Shepherds Bush.
George did return to Griffin Park for a season after just two games (one goal) for the Ha, Ha’s, and played a further 32 games scoring 14 goals before moving on again to Gillingham (just nine goals in 51 games) and drifting into non-league with Hastings, Hillingdon and Stevenage Borough.
But enough of facts and figures. Apart from the goals, old timers like me can remember little incidents from their time as our heroes including the oft repeat tale of how he once shot from outside the penalty box with such force that he broke the wrist of the Bournemouth goalkeeper trying unsuccessfully to stop it.
And George, well, apart from a rather salacious story of his sticky hands which can’t be repeated to delicate Bees fans in a public place, my fondest memory of him was seeing him turn up for games on a 65 bus, with his boots in a carrier bag. I also seem to recall he would sometimes drop into one of our four pubs for a bevy before a game (although I may be getting Alzheimers here and it could have been someone else!).
It was George, too, who once missed an evening game when his family forgot to wake him from an afternoon nap in time for an evening game against Brighton – he got to the ground to be left out in the cold as the other players were warming up.
So yes, George Francis and Jim Towers were among Brentford’s all-time greats – and I thank and salute them for all the great times and great memories they have given me.