Francis Lee

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Francis Lee
Franny Lee.jpg
Lee (centre) signing an autograph
Personal information
Full name Francis Henry Lee
Date of birth (1944-04-29) 29 April 1944 (age 76)
Place of birth Westhoughton, Lancashire, England
Playing position(s) Forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1959–1967 Bolton Wanderers 189 (92)
1967–1974 Manchester City 249 (112)
1974–1976 Derby County 62 (24)
Total 500 (228)
National team
1968–1972 England 27 (10)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Francis Henry Lee CBE (born 29 April 1944) is a former professional footballer.

Lee played for Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City, Derby County and England. A fast forward, he won League Championship medals with Manchester City and Derby, and scored more than 200 goals in his career. In 2010, he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

He holds the English record for the greatest number of penalties scored in a season, a feat which earned him the nickname Lee Won Pen and led to accusations of diving.[1] One such accusation, from Leeds United's Norman Hunter, led to an on-pitch fight.[2]

After retiring from football, Lee ran a successful toilet roll business, F.H. Lee Ltd, which made him a millionaire. In 1994, he became the major shareholder and chairman of Manchester City, but stepped down four years later.

Playing career[edit]

Lee started his professional career with Bolton Wanderers. Manchester City manager Joe Mercer signed him for a club record transfer fee of £60,000 in 1967.[3] He made his Manchester City debut in a 2–0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Maine Road, and scored his first Manchester City goal the following week at Fulham. In his first season at the club, he scored 16 League goals in 31 appearances, playing a crucial role in City's push for the 1967–68 League Championship; Mercer described him as "the final piece of the jigsaw".[3] The title was decided on the final day of the season, City requiring a win at Newcastle United. City won the match 4–3, Lee scoring one of the goals, and were crowned champions. The following season Lee was part of the Manchester City team which won the 1969 FA Cup.

In the 1969–70 season, Lee was Manchester City's top scorer, an achievement he would subsequently match in each of the next four seasons.[3] His tally that season included one of the most important goals of his career, a penalty in the final of the European Cup Winners' Cup.

Lee represented England at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico and was the first English player ever to receive a card in a World Cup.

In the 1971–72 season, Lee set a British record for the number of penalties scored in a season, with 15 of his 35 goals scored from the penalty spot. Many of the penalties resulted from fouls on Lee, earning him the nickname Lee One Pen. Some journalists, holding the opinion that Lee gained a number of penalties by diving, used the name Lee Won Pen instead.[4] Lee's name is often cited in debates about diving in football; referees' chief Keith Hackett described him as a player who "had a reputation of falling down easily".[5]

Lee left Manchester City in 1974, joining Derby County. For the second time in his career, Lee joined a team viewed as contenders for that season's league title. He was upset at Manchester City's decision to sell him and marked his first match against his former club by scoring the winning goal for Derby.[6] Lee scored twelve league goals that season, Derby winning their second League title and Lee the second championship medal of his career. On 1 November 1975, Lee had a confrontation with Leeds United defender Norman Hunter, which gained a level of infamy after it was screened on Match of the Day. In the first half of the game, the referee adjudged that Hunter had fouled Lee in the Leeds penalty area, and awarded Derby a penalty. Charlie George, and not Lee, took the penalty kick, and scored. In the second half, Lee and Hunter were seen to be exchanging punches in an off-the-ball incident. The referee stopped the game and took both players' names, but it was not immediately clear if he had sent off either or both of them. However, as the two men walked away they began fighting again. After intervention by both sets of players, Hunter left the pitch and Lee was restrained and ushered off the field by a club official. In 2003, the incident was named by The Observer as sport's most spectacular dismissal.[7]

Lee also held the record for the most goals in Manchester derbies, scoring 10 goals in all against Manchester United, a tally that equalled Joe Hayes' record.[8] This record was later beaten by Wayne Rooney who scored his 11th goal in a Manchester derby on 22 September 2013.

Business career[edit]

After his playing career, Lee moved into business. His toilet roll manufacturing business once employed Peter Kay, later a famous comedian, who mentions his time there in his autobiography "The Sound Of Laughter".

In 1994, Lee became chairman of Manchester City, ousting Peter Swales from the position by purchasing £3 million of shares at a price of £13.35 per share.[9] Lee was welcomed as a hero by City's supporters, who had formed a movement named Forward With Franny backing his attempt to gain control of the club.[10] Upon becoming chairman, Lee made a series of extravagant claims about his plans for the club, announcing that "This will be the happiest club in the land. The players will be the best paid and we'll drink plenty of champagne, celebrate and sing until we're hoarse".[10] In 1995, he appointed his friend Alan Ball as manager, but the appointment proved unsuccessful and the club were relegated. Lee stepped down in 1998, with the club on the brink of relegation to the third tier of English football, a fate which Lee had dismissed at the previous annual general meeting by saying that he would "jump off the Kippax" if the club were relegated.[11] He was succeeded by David Bernstein. Lee retained a shareholding after leaving the board of directors but later sold all his shares to Thaksin Shinawatra.

In addition to his business ventures, Lee also had a career as a racehorse trainer. Notable horses trained by Lee include Sir Harry Hardman,[12] Allwight Then[13] and Young Jason.[14] Lee gave the trade up in 2001 to pursue his business commitments.

Before becoming a professional footballer Lee showed promise at cricket, representing the Horwich and Westhoughton Schools FA Team in 1958.[15] When his football career came to an end, he briefly returned to cricket, playing for Westhoughton's first XI in 1977 as a medium-fast bowler and middle to lower order batsman.[16]

Lee was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to football and charity.[17]


Manchester City
Derby County


  1. ^ Mooney, David. "Francis Lee and the day that changed history at Manchester City". Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  2. ^ "The 10... most spectacular dismissals". London: 3 August 2003. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  3. ^ a b c James, Gary (2006). Manchester City – The Complete Record. Derby: Breedon. ISBN 1-85983-512-0., p178
  4. ^ Adamson, Mike (2 March 2005). "Are Palace set for a penalties record?". Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 April 2007.
  5. ^ Jacob, Gary; Kempson, Russell (19 April 2005). "Duff works on happy landings". The Times. London. Retrieved 15 April 2007.
  6. ^ Clayton, David (2002). Everything under the blue moon: the complete book of Manchester City FC – and more!. Edinburgh: Mainstream publishing. ISBN 1-84018-687-9.
  7. ^ "The 10 most spectacular dismissals". Observer. London. Retrieved 14 April 2007.
  8. ^ Baskcomb, Julian (ed.) (1997). Manchester City F.C. Official Handbook 1997–98. Leicester: Polar.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "After all that... This". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2007.
  10. ^ a b Hodgson, Guy (17 March 1998). "Maine line to nowhere for Lee". The Independent. London. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  11. ^ Conn, David. "Fans fear Keegan's reign may spell glory or bust". The Independent. Archived from the original on 7 September 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  12. ^ "Sir Harry Hardman". Racing Post. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2007.
  13. ^ "Ribble Maiden Stakes". Racing Post. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2007.
  14. ^ "'encourage Young' Selling Handicap". Racing Post. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2007.
  15. ^ Beevers, Ken (1999). Images of England: Westhoughton. NPI Media. ISBN 978-0-7524-1606-9.
  16. ^ "Westhoughton Cricket Club 150th Anniversary (1856 -2006)". Westhoughton CC. Archived from the original on 8 October 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2007.
  17. ^ "No. 61450". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2015. p. N9.

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Peter Swales
Manchester City F.C. chairman
Succeeded by
David Bernstein