Australian Football

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Key Facts

Full name
James Francis

Known as
Jim Francis

Born
12 December 1910

Died
16 November 2004 (aged 93)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 18y 199d
Last game: 32y 245d

Height and weight
Height: 184 cm
Weight: 82 kg

Senior clubs
Hawthorn; Carlton

Jumper numbers
Hawthorn: 12, 28, 10
Carlton: 10

Recruited from
Hawthorn (1934)

Family links
Jack Francis (Brother)Syd Francis (Brother)Jim Jackson (Uncle)

Jim Francis

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
HawthornV/AFL1929-193361260.4321%13.674.0012
CarltonV/AFL1934-1943162520.3269%15.505.0046
V/AFL1929-1943223780.3556%15.244.8558
Total1929-1943223780.3556%15.244.8558

Pre 1965 stats are for selected matches only

AFL: 3,582nd player to appear, 436th most games played, 1,375th most goals kickedHawthorn: 116th player to appear, 232nd most games played, 199th most goals kickedCarlton: 511th player to appear, 64th most games played, 158th most goals kicked

Until Jim Francis died aged ninety-three in November 2004 he had been, for several years, the oldest surviving member of Carlton's 1938 premiership-winning combination. As a youngster he had concentrated on cricket and baseball, at the insistence of his father, but once he took up football at secondary school, where it was compulsory, it became clear that it was it was there that his real talent lay.

Noting his nephew's talent, Francis' uncle, Jim Jackson, a former league player with three clubs, suggested he try out with Hawthorn, in whose district he resided. He so impressed Hawthorn officials that he was selected to make his senior debut for the club almost immediately. That was in 1929, when Francis was eighteen, and over the next five seasons he would go on to play a total of 61 VFL games and kick 26 goals for the Mayblooms, mainly as a half forward flanker or centreman. Tall, thin and extremely quick, he was an excellent kick to position, and despite his late start in the game possessed a keen football brain. He was also extremely dedicated, playing for his entire time at Hawthorn without payment.

After representing the VFL at the Sydney carnival in 1933, Francis returned home to find that he had been demoted to the bench by the Hawthorn selectors. Feeling extremely aggrieved, he immediately walked out on the club, and sought a clearance, but Hawthorn, not surprisingly, refused to play ball. Rather than sit idly by, Francis resumed his baseball career, making it obvious that he would rather do that than return to Hawthorn. In the end, midway through the following season, the club relented, and Jim Francis was cleared to Carlton as part of a pioneering exchange deal that saw full forward Jack Green moving in the opposite direction.

If his time at Glenferrie had been promising, his ten-season stint with the Blues, which yielded 162 games and 52 goals, was exceptional. When regular centre half back Gordon Mackie was injured, Francis stepped into the breach magnificently. Despite never having played the position previously, he took to it like the proverbial duck to water, and became arguably the finest exponent of the position in the game. Carlton's best and fairest in 1935 and 1940, he represented the VFL against South Australia in 1941, and was captain of the club in five of his ten seasons. In the 1938 Grand Final against Collingwood he formed part of arguably the finest half back line in Carlton's history, along with Bob Chitty and Frank Anderson.

After retiring as a player, Jim Francis coached Carlton's under nineteens for six years, with great success. He later had stints as senior coach of both Carlton and St Kilda.

Author - John Devaney

Sources

Full Points Footy Publications

Footnotes

* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.