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Page Last Updated
19 October 2022
Francis Sparks Hertfordshire Rangers FC & Clapham Rovers FC

3 appearances, 3 goals

P 3 W 2 D 0 L 1 F 12: A 11
67% successful

captain: one (two goals)
minutes played:


Pic courtesy of SFA museum Francis John Sparks
Birth Wednesday, 4 July 1855 at Bradfields in North Benfleet, Billericay, Essex
registered in Billericay July-September 1855
"4th inst, at Bradfields, North Benfleet, Mrs. John Sparks, of a son." - The Chelmsford Chronicle, Friday, 20 July 1855.
Baptism Friday, 11 April 1856 at All Saints' Church in North Benfleet
According to the 1861 census, Francis John is the youngest of three children to John and Eleanor (née Curtis) living at Bradfields in North Benfleet with three servants. His father is a farmer employing 250.
Cannot be found on the 1871 census.
According to the 1881 census, Francis J. is now a clerk for his father, and with his older sister, Marion, they are living with their parents, and two servants at Somerset Road in Chipping Barnet, Barnet. His father is a General Commission Agent.
First marriage to Jane Sarah Billinghurst, on 5 July 1884
registered in Islington July-September 1884
"SPARKS―BILLINGHURST.―On the 5th inst, at St. Mary's, Islington. Francis John, younger son of John Sparks, Esq., of Eversfield, New Barnet, to Jane Sarah, elder daughter of J.W Billinghurst, Esq., of Highbury place." - The Morning Post, Wednesday, 9 July 1884.
Children Francis and Jane Sparks had two sons together. Frank Evans (b.1885) and Edward John (b.23 March 1886). Jane left the marital home shortly after.
According to the 1891 census, Francis J., although 'married', is still with his sister, living with their mother at Dudley House on Manor Road in Chipping Barnet. Two of his nephews and two servants all live with them. He seems dependent on his mother.
According to the 1901 census, Francis J., stated as 'widowed' (Jane is still very much alive: see below!), is a coal traveller, living on his own at 141 Clarendon Place in Dover.
According to the 1911 census, Francis John is now lodging with John Taylor, also a widower, at 2 Norman Cottages, in Upper Deal, Kent.
(His eldest son, Frank Evans, died in Ypres, 13 May 1915)
Second marriage to Matilda Gertrude Wright, on 21 November 1917
registered in Rochford October-December 1917
According to the 1921 census, Francis John, a retired clerk, is married to Matilda Gertrude, and they both live at 16 New Road in the Seven Kings area of Ilford.
"At Southend on Tuesday, William Deares, of Hamilton Bungalow, Vange, renewed his application for the discharge of a maintenance order in respect to Mrs. Matilda Gertrude Deares, Shaftesbury Avenue, Southend.
"The case had been before the Court on three previous occasions, and it had been alleged that Mrs. Dawes was already married to a Mr. Sparkes at the time of the ceremony with the present applicant. At the hearing on Friday, Mrs. Jane Sarah Sparkes, of Finsbury Park, said she was married on July 5, 1884, to Francis John Sparkes. She left her husband in 1886, and had not seen him for many years.
"Respondent said that on Nov. 21, 1917, she went through a form of marriage with a Francis John Sparkes. At that time, her surname was Wright, and she was a widow. Subsequently, Mr. Sparkes told her he had a wife alive, she
then left him. After that she met William Deares, and married him in October, 1922.
"Mr. Hurrell (for the respondent) said the case was somewhat complicated, but he thought the Bench would be satisfied there was no such thing as a bigamous marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Deares, but that a bigamous marriage took place between Mr. Sparkes and Mrs. Deares. Mr. S. Wortly (for the applicant), urged that there was no evidence that the man Sparkes who was married to Mrs. Sparkes was the man Sparkes who was married to Mrs.  Deares. The Bench dismissed the application, and allowed £5/10/ - costs."
- The Essex Chronicle/Chelmsford Chronicle, Friday, 25 July 1930 & The Essex Newsman, Saturday, 26 July 1930.
Death Tuesday, 13 February 1934, at 1 Oldchurch Road in Romford, Essex
aged 78 years 224 days registered in Romford January-March 1934
Funeral Monday, 19 February 1934 at All Saints' Church, North Benfleet.
Probate "SPARKS Francis John of 6 Pembroke-road Sevens Kings Essex died 13 February 1934 at 1 Oldchurch-road Romford Essex Probate London 6 April to the reverend Wolston Dixie Churchill clerk.
Effects £64 12s. 10d." [2019 equivalent: £4,615]
  Jane Sparks died in Islington on 22 May 1941; Matilda Deares died in mid-1952.
Source Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990] &
Playing Career
Club(s) Began in 1873 playing for St. Albans Pilgrims FC.  He switched to play for Brondesbury within the year for the rest of the season.  He played for Upton Park FC between 1876 and 1878, before joining Hertfordshire Rangers FC. He joined Clapham Rovers FC for their successful 1879-80 campaign;
Club honours FA Cup winners 1879-80;
Individual honours Essex FA and London FA;
Height/Weight not known
Source Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990].
England Career
Player number One of eight who became the 62nd players (69) to appear for England.
Position(s) Forward
First match No. 9, 5 April 1879, England 5 Scotland 4, a friendly match at The Surrey Cricket Ground, The Oval, Kennington, London, aged 23 years 275 days.
Last match No. 11, 15 March 1880, Wales 2 England 3, a friendly match at The Racecourse, Mold Road, Wrexham, aged 24 years 255 daysc
Individual honours England's Top Goalscorer (three 1879-80).
Distincions The first captain to score more than two goals for England.
The youngest captain to score until Charlie Bambridge in 1882.
The most appearanced Englishman at Hertfordshire Rangers.
Beyond England
Served on the FA Committee 1878-80. He was employed as a clerk, according to the 1881 census, in Barnet. and became a coal traveller in Kent by 1901. - An English Football Internationalists' Who's Who. Douglas Lamming (1990). Hatton Press, p.230/1./FindMyPast.com

The Numbers

parties Appearances minutes Goals ave. min captain
3 3 270 3 90 min one
The minutes here given can only ever be a guideline and cannot therefore be accurate, only an approximation.
3 2 0 1 12 11 +1 0 0 4 3.667 66.7 +1
All of his matches were friendly matches

Venue Record

Venue P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
Home 1 1 0 0 5 4 +1 0 0 5.00 4.00 100.0 +1
Away 2 1 0 1 7 7 =0 0 0 3.50 3.50 50.0 =0

Captain Record

Venue P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
Away 1 1 0 0 3 2 +1 0 0 3.00 2.00 100.0 +1
1 1 0 0 3 2 +1 0 0 3 2 100 +1

Match History
 Clubs: Herts Rangers F.C. & Clapham Rovers F.C. - three full appearances (270 min) 1ᶜ 3ᵍ F.A. Committee - three full appearances (270 min) 1ᶜ 3ᵍx

apps match match details comp res. rundown pos

Age 23
1 9 5 April 1879 - England 5 Scotland 4
The Surrey Cricket Ground, Kennington
Fr HW   for

one of eight who became the 62nd (68) players to appear for England
one of three who became the eighth (ten) player from Clapham Rovers to represent England
the second and final player from Herts Rangers FC to represent England

Age 24
2 10 13 March 1880 - Scotland 5 England 4
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Fr AL 85 off post for
3 11 15 March 1880 - Wales 2 England 3
The Racecourse, Wrexham
won toss
56 placed
ͨ for

the ninth player to captain England
the third captain to score a goal for England - the first to score two in one match
the third player to score in two England matches.
the scorer of the fourth brace for England - oldest so far
his three goals in 1880 makes him top goalscorer for the season and year - a new record until 1882
leading goalscoring captain until 1891