William L. Francis by Dave Dooley: Featherstone-born, yet qualified for Wales by descent, Bill Francis shot to international fame in the late 1960s and early 70s as a utility back with Wigan. Renowned for his deceptive pace, deft passing skills and magical sidestep, he joined rivals St.Helens for `£8,000 early in the 1977/78 season after 13 years at Central Park Under his steadying influence at stand-off, Saints played some brilliant football and reached the 1978 Challenge Cup Final in his first season. Although Francis scored a memorable try, he had to settle for a loser's medal when Leeds staged a late rally to lift the trophy.
In his first season at Knowsley Road Bill scored nine tries 36 matches including a brace against Bramley in the record 71 points to 7 home victory. Indeed, he made a tryscoring debut in the 52 points to 14 home demolition of Hull. In that particular game Peter Glynn, playing centre three-quarter, benefited from Bill's excellent service as he raced in for five tries. In Bill's second and final season, he notched a brace of tries against Rochdale Hornets in the infamous Lancashire Cup First Round second replay as the Saints finally disposed of the recalcitrant bunch of stingers. On the 30th of April 1979 Bill played his last match for the club and collected two tries in the 31 points to 15 home league victory.
Bill left Knowsley Road for Salford and finished his career with Oldham. A former Yorkshire County player, Bill's international honours include 4 Great Britain appearances and 19 for Wales. He went to Australia with the Welsh International Championship Squad in 1975 and the 1977 British World Cup Squad. He is a member of Saints Past Players Association.