Full Name: FRANCIS BOURKE
Date of Birth: 02/04/1947
Height: 185 cm ( 6-1 )
Weight: 84 kg ( 13-3 )
Debut: 13/05/1967, Round 5, Hawthorn
Last Game: 27/06/1981, Round 14, North Melbourne
Total Games: 302
Total Goals: 71
Honours: Premiership 1967, 1969, 1973, 1974, 1980, Captain 1976-77, Best & Fairest 1970, Victorian Representative Team 1968-70, 1972-73, 1976-77, 1980 Games 13, Victorian Representative Team Captain 1977, 1980. Richmond Senior Coach 1982-83.
Richmond Life Member
Richmond Hall of Fame Member 2002, Elevated to Immortal status 2005
Richmond Team of Twentieth Century 1998
AFL Life Member xxxx
Australian Football Hall of Fame Member 1996
AFL Team of Twentieth Century xxxx
Total Games: 8
Total Goals: 11
Francis played on the wing, half-back-flank and at full-back. He played his early football at Aussumption College, before moving back to his home town of Nathalia. In 1964 he kicked 62 goals for Nathalia as a key-forward. He joined Richmond in 1967with the ambition of playing six senior games so he could then return to the country and coach. He actually played some of his early senior games as second rover, but later became a member of the famous Premiership centreline along with Bill Barrot and Dick Clay. It did not matter where you played him, he always gave one hundred percent and didn’t know how to give up. He was an inspiration to all his team mates, a straight-ahead player who never shirked an issue, and had the ability to beat opponents with persistence. He was affectionately known as “Saint Francis” by Richmond supporters. His determination was recognised by the club as he won the Most Determined trophy in 1967, 1972, 1977 and 1980. He had suffered a set-back as a 14-year-old, when told by a doctor not to play any sport due to a heart condition.
He often played with injuries that would keep most players out of a game, and continued regardless, which showed a tremendous mental strength to overcome discomfort. In Round 7 of 1971 in a game against Hawthorn he broke a bone in his leg but still managed to walk off the ground. As a result of this injury he missed the next 9 games. During the Easter weekend in 1976, while working as a publican, he was assaulted and received facial swelling and two black eyes; however, on Easter Monday he led Richmond to a fine victory over North Melbourne. During a tense struggle also against North Melbourne at Arden Street in Round 21 of 1980, he received a heavy blow to his face causing a large cut which proceeded to bleed heavily. With no blood rule then, he went to the forward line and immediately came under notice. Barely able to see because of the injury and bleeding, he dived full-length to take a chest mark then steer through a crucial goal to ensure Richmond had a narrow win. The following week Richmond lost their last game against South Melbourne so that win ensure the club a second chance in the Finals.
Francis was a good kick and able to use his strength to gain the best position in marking duels. He was not afraid to run off opponents and was a sure ball handler when the ball was on the ground. He possessed excellent judgement and was rarely caught out of position. He also trained the way he played, as well as putting in many extra hours of training to finely tune his skills. Only Kevin Bartlett and Jack Dyer have played more club games than Francis’s 302. He won Richmond’s Best and Fairest award in 1970, was runner-up in 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1976 and finished third in 1968 and 1973. He was a member of the 1967, 1969, 1973, 1974 and 1980 Premiership sides and the 1972 Grand Final side. He was voted Best Player in the Finals in 1972 and was awarded Life Membership in 1976. His 23 Finals games place him in third position as far as club records go. He finished third in the “Brownlow Medal” in 1976 and captained Richmond in 1976 and 1977. He also represented Victoria 13 times and was Victorian captain in 1977 and 1980. He is a Life Member of the AFL/VFL and in 1996 he was inducted into the AFL’s Hall of Fame.
Francis coached Richmond in 1982 and 1983 leading them to the 1982 Grand Final and the 1983 night Grand Final. He later spent some time at Melbourne, as a specialist coach, returning to Richmond as Chairman of Selectors in 1992, only to resign at the end of 1994 after his son, David, was drafted under the father-son rule and made his senior debut in Round 2 of 1995. He is the son of Frank Bourke. Francis was also a fine cricketer who played with Camberwell Cricket Club in the Sub District Competition as an all-rounder. Away from football, he runs a newsagency in Canterbury.
Assumption College Senior Team 1963 ; Nathalia Seniors 1964-66, Games 45, Goals 110 ( Honours - Best & Fairest 1965, Leading Goalkicker 1964 Goals 62 ).