Known to all Rovers fans as “Sir Francis Tierney,” his greatest moment in a Rovers’ shirt came on Saturday 10th May 2003 at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke. With Rovers and Dagenham & Redbridge locked at 2-2 in the Football Conference Promotion Final, Sir Francis latched onto a cross by Paul Barnes and scrambled the ball home for the golden goal winner. It took Rovers back to the Football League after an absence of five years and made Sir Francis a legend.
Francis Tierney was an unlucky footballer: a potential move from first club Crewe Alexandra to Liverpool had fallen through due to injury. After spells at Notts County and Exeter City by 2001 he was playing for non-League Witton Albion. There he was spotted by Rovers boss Steve Wignall, who offered him a trial. This proved successful and he signed for the 2001-02 season.
He was still dogged by injury, and in all he made only 70 appearances for Rovers. After a brilliant start to the 2002-03 campaign he suffered an Achilles tendon injury which ruled him out for several months. Nevertheless, he came back to help Rovers into the play-offs and seal promotion in the most dramatic fashion.
He played enough games in 2003-04 to earn a Division Three Champions medal and made some telling contributions when fit. He had a good eye for goal, although his major contributions were his deliveries into the penalty box, either from crosses or from sweetly struck set-pieces. Sadly, after only one appearance in 2004-05 he was forced to retire from full-time football at the age of only 29. An unfulfilled talent, but one whose contribution will never be forgotten at Doncaster Rovers.
Rovers Debut: 27th March 2001, Football Conference, vs. Dagenham & Redbridge (away) Lost 1-2.
Final game: 2nd November 2004, Football League Trophy, vs. Hereford United (away) Drew 1-1. (Lost 1-3 on penalties).
Rovers Career: Football League: 13 appearances, 3 goals. All senior games: 70 appearances, 13 goals
Honours with Rovers: Sheffield and Hallamshire Senior Challenge Cup winner 2000-01, 2001-02. Promoted to the Football League via play-offs 2002-03. Division Three Championship 2003-04.