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The unusual tale of Francis Lee and Mrs Scott

Francis Lee is the reason I became a Manchester City supporter way back in 1970.


The news of his death reached me whilst waiting for my flight from Prague International Airport back to the UK last night. It hit me hard.


City Legend Francis Lee is why I started supporting City way back in 1970

A late take off meant an extra 90 minutes in the capital of Czechia – normally an irritation – but on this occasion, affording me time to reflect on how my first football hero had set me on a journey as a lifelong City fan.


Unlike so many City fans of my generation and those who had gone before, I couldn’t lay claim to Mancunian origins. I wasn’t blessed with sky blue blood coursing through my veins. I was denied such a privileged birthright.


Born in Cleethorpes on the East Coast of England, I had no family links or connections whatsoever with Manchester. So why, aged just six, did I become a City fan?


A legend on the field but Franny couldn't make it work as City Chairman.

My allegiance to the team from Maine Road stemmed from a lady called Margaret Scott – the mother of my childhood friend, Stephen, and her ‘crush’ on the blonde City centre forward.


I lived in Braemar Road, and when all the kids were playing street football there’d be no shortage of those wanting to be George Best, Bobby Charlton or in Stephen’s case, as a QPR fan, Rodney Marsh – all popular icons of my childhood.


Due to the influence of Mrs Scott (later on in life she told me to call her Margaret, but it didn’t sit well – she was always Mrs Scott) I was Francis Lee.


An iconic capture as Franny scored to help City become Champions of England in 1968.

Initially I didn’t know anything about Franny, not even what he looked like! I assumed – much to Mrs Scott’s amusement – that he had short dark hair, a square jaw and chiselled features.


What possessed me to have such an image of him in my head is anybody’s guess.


But that was it – no going back – it mattered not a jot that Francis Henry Lee was the polar opposite. He played for Manchester City and that was going to be my team.


Francis made a big impression on Mrs Scott in the 1960s and 70s.

Thankfully the A&BC Footballers Card collection soon put me right. There was Franny – stocky, blonde haired and resplendent in either sky blue and white, or the dashing black and red striped away kit.


Decades later I finally had the pleasure and privilege of meeting him on what proved to be a disappointing night for City.


It was nonetheless a personal highlight for me. Spurs edged City out of a Champions League spot via a late winner from Peter Crouch at the Etihad on a Wednesday night in May 2010.


Lee Won Pen - Francis sounded Chinese, such was his record for winning and converting spot kicks for City.

Prior to the game I’d chatted with the City legend who scored 148 goals in 330 appearances, winning the First Division title, the FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners Cup.


He was amused as to why I was a City fan and the part he’d played, albeit bemused by the dark hair, square jaw and chiselled features – and who could blame him?


Franny was great company – warm and welcoming – and it helped soften the blow of Roberto Mancini’s men being consigned to the Europa League.


As Twitter became a ‘thing’ we followed each other and, when Mrs Scott passed away at the age of 90, I was able to let him know via a personal message.


Lee in typical City battle mode.

Ever the gentleman Francis asked me for the details of her family so he could send his condolences. It was a caring gesture from a man who was passionate about Manchester City, and appreciated those who shared that love.


So much has been said and written in tributes to Francis in the last 24 hours – so many highlights and memorable moments – principally with City and more latterly in his career, with Derby County.


Thanks for the memories Francis - RIP.

For my part this is simply a way of saying a sincere and heartfelt ‘thank you’, to a wonderful footballer and lovely man who enriched my life, and those of every other Manchester City fan.



By David Walker


Twitter @ReadButNeverRed

@djwskyblu

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20 Comments


Derek Tidswell
Derek Tidswell
Oct 07, 2023

Great tribute and story. Loved the trinity that was Bell and Lee and Summerbee (hi ho). My favourite player though was Nellie Young…what a sweet left foot and so smooth on the ball. I was born in Oldham and followed the Latics during the Oldham “Pathetic” days but a couple of my mates, who were both City fans, (one of whom is a famous movie cinematographer) got me to go to Maine Road and I was hooked. Used to go to whoever was playing at home when they alternated, but loved watching City. The anticipation built up as soon as we crossed the halfway line and you could almost touch it.

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davidjwalker1
davidjwalker1
Oct 07, 2023
Replying to

Great and precious memories.

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tracie465
tracie465
Oct 04, 2023

You have an amazing way of writing such heartfelt lovely posts ... this is no exception

Thank you for this lovely tribute... and thank you Franny for everything from every single member of the City family.. RIP 💙

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davidjwalker1
davidjwalker1
Oct 04, 2023
Replying to

That’s wonderful feedback - thank you so much TJ 🩵🙏🏻

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As a young football daft lad but didn't really support any team even though my dad was a season ticket holder at Old Trafford I had been there a few times.Then my brother in law said come with me to watch my team which I did. Those were the days of the holy trinity Bell Sumerbee and Lee I was smitten and that was my team from then on. Franny was one of the best loved him to bits. RIP Franny and thanks for being you.

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davidjwalker1
davidjwalker1
Oct 04, 2023
Replying to

Great words my fellow Cityzen.

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Malcolm Gruber
Malcolm Gruber
Oct 04, 2023

They say you should never meet your heroes - happy to see that wasn't the case for you. A lovely tribute to a hero to so many of our generation. And a fascinating discovery of how you came to support the greatest football team in all the world. (And as you probably know, the great Peter Kay worked in his toilet paper factories.)

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davidjwalker1
davidjwalker1
Oct 04, 2023
Replying to

I didn’t know Peter Kay worked for Franny in the toilet tissue industry - a new learning. As for meeting heroes - that saying doesn’t always hold that much water - Franny, King Colin, Mancini, Kompany, Peter Barnes, Buzzer, El Mago - the list goes on, as I’m sure it does for so many City fans - heroes who didn’t disappoint.


Thanks for your kind comments.

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A very worthy tribute, he was my favourite for so long, just edged past Colin and Mike S. but we had abundance of top notch players, and all great characters, as now I loved them all. Honoured to have meet him on a few occasions, such a lovely lovely man.

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davidjwalker1
davidjwalker1
Oct 04, 2023
Replying to

Likewise, it’s so sad when our heroes depart. It also reminds us of our own mortality. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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