02122022 Francis Joseph Obituary

Bristol Rovers was saddened to learn of the death of former player Francis Joseph.

Joseph, who passed away on 18th November at the age of 62, was one of those players often referred to as a journeyman footballer.

The striker turned out for a number of lower-league and non-league clubs during a career that spanned over 20 years as a player, coach and manager.

With striker Devon White due to begin a two-match suspension and Rovers hovering dangerously close to the Third Division relegation zone, manager Gerry Francis signed 27-year-old Joseph on a month’s loan from Reading on 22nd January 1988.

Assistant manager Kenny Hibbitt said of his signing: "He’s quick and strong, but hardly the force in the air that Devon is and we will have to change our game and try to keep as much as we can on the floor if we want to get the most out of him."

Joseph was due to make his Rovers debut, against York City, the day after signing but the bad weather forced the game to be called off.

The following Saturday, his debut was due to arrive in a local derby against Bristol City but, once again, the game didn’t take place, due to a waterlogged Twerton Park pitch.

He finally donned a Rovers shirt for the game against Wigan Athletic, at Springfield Park, on 6th February, but ended up on the losing side as Wigan were 1-0 winners.

Next up was a home game against Southend United, which ended goalless, and his final game came against Rotherham United, when he partnered White, who had served his two-match ban, though it was another game where the points were shared and ended 1-1.

Born in Kilburn, Joseph had played for Wealdstone and Hillingdon Borough before turning professional with Wimbledon and he scored on his Dons debut against Darlington.

Loan spells in Finland preceded a move to Brentford in the summer of 1982 and he scored 44 goals in 110 league games whilst at Griffin Park.

Loans back at Wimbledon and again in Finland came prior to his move to Reading in 1987 and, after leaving Twerton Park his nomadic career continued, taking in a number of clubs, both league and non-league.

A number of his many clubs have paid tribute to a popular player and everyone at Bristol Rovers Football Club sends their condolences to his family and friends.

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