Francis Lee & Norman Hunter fight: Relive the infamous fight in 1975 - what was Francis Lee’s cause of death?
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The sporting community is in mourning after Manchester City, Bolton and Derby County star, Francis Lee, also known as Franny Lee, died from cancer aged 79. Lee also turned out 27 times for England between 1968 and 1972.
Over his long and illustrious career that spanned 17 years from 1959 until 1976, Lee scored more than 200 career league goals, as well as 10 goals in 27 appearances for England, and was also City chairman between 1994 and 1998.
One of the more memorable moments of his career came during his twilight years, when a great match between Derby County and Leeds United that saw the home side win 3-2 in 1975 was overshadowed by a fight between Lee and the late Norman Hunter.
Hunter, a World Cup winner for England in 1966 was described as a ‘tough tackling’ centre-back and defensive midfielder, turned out for Leeds, Bristol City and Barnsley, where he finished his 20-year playing career.
During the now infamous game, the referee gave Derby a penalty, after Hunter had fouled Lee in the Leeds penalty area. The subsequent penalty was scored by Charlie George and not Lee.
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. After this, they began fighting once again.
Both sets of players intervened, with Hunter leaving the pitch whilst Lee was restrained and ushered off the field by a club official. Lee required four stitches and was subsequently banned for four weeks.
Former Derby star Roy McFarland remembers the incident and in his autobiography, Roy Mac: Clough’s Champion’ he quoted Lee, who said: ‘Get out of my way, Roy — I’m going to kill that b****** Hunter.’
Hunter, who sadly died in 2020 revealed that he and Lee did make up. During an interview with talkSPORT, he said: “Well, Franny, I enjoyed playing against Franny. That was just an incident that happened that I’m not very proud of. I’ve seen the little fella since and he’s a smashing bloke; we actually get on quite well.
“I was stood at the top of the steps once, and I hadn’t seen Franny since the punch-up. He was coming up the steps as chairman of Man City, and I looked at him in his face and I thought, ‘oh no, here we go again’.
“But he got two steps away from me and a big smile broke out on his face, and he said, ‘let’s go in that boardroom and finish that fight!’.”