Former Halifax player Franny Firth dies

Franny Firth. Picture: Johnny Meynell.
Franny Firth. Picture: Johnny Meynell.

Former Halifax Town player Franny Firth has died, aged 61.

Franny was born in Dewsbury on May 27, 1956 as played primarily as a winger.

A cutting from the Courier of Franny Firth's second goal against Bury in the 1980-81 season. Picture: Johnny Meynell

A cutting from the Courier of Franny Firth's second goal against Bury in the 1980-81 season. Picture: Johnny Meynell

Though not in the same mould perhaps as wingers of previous generations, Franny served Halifax Town well for over four seasons, and though his time at the club coincided with a period of struggle, he showed flashes of speed and flair, with an eye for goal.

It was with Huddersfield Town that Firth began his professional career, being a member of their successful youth side which reached the 1973-74 FA Youth Cup final only to lose over two legs to Tottenham Hotspur.

After signing professional forms, Firth made his League debut as a substitute, replacing former Welsh international Dick Krzywicki in a 5-0 victory over Rochdale in February 1974.

Firth had established himself in the first team at the start of the 1976-77 season but cruelly suffered a broken leg in a match at Barnsley in September 1976 and never appeared in the side again.

It was Jimmy Lawson who resurrected his career, bringing him to The Shay in February 1978, and Firth helped spark a revival which would take Halifax Town away from the dreaded re-election zone.

But Town weren’t so fortunate during 1978-79, though with manager George Kirby advocating the use of two flankers Firth thus became a key member of his side.

Injury hampered Firth during the early part of 1979-80, but he returned to volley home the winner against Walsall, the League’s last undefeated side that term, and was a member of the side which pulled off a shock win in the FA Cup over First Division Manchester City in January 1980.

At the start of 1980-81, Kirby claimed Firth could be the Fourth Division’s ‘surprise package’ and gave him a new role – as an out and out striker. He proved how devastating he could be by running in two goals of a memorable 4-2 victory over Bury, and scored seven League and cup goals in the opening two months of the season.

But as Town began to struggle, so his goals dried up, and though he was restored to the wing, he still finished as leading goalscorer in all competitions that season with ten goals.

Firth’s fortunes changed under Mickey Bullock and following a poor start, he was one of four players immediately transfer-listed in September 1981. There were no takers and Firth, to his credit, forced his way back into the side, though his days at The Shay were clearly numbered.

Released at the end of the 1981-82 season, Firth joined Bury, a team which for a good while looked certainties for promotion, but ultimately they drifted out of the race. Released after just one season at Gigg Lane, Firth then joined Witton Albion.

Having retired from the game, Firth became a postman in the Huddersfield district.