Francis set for pastures new after Tanners exit
AFTER just one year with the club, Vernon Francis has decided to leave Leatherhead.
The big midfield man, who signed a contract at Fetcham Grove in the middle of last season after a series of stunning displays led to interest from teams higher up the non-league pyramid, will not be a Tanners player for the 2012-13 season after quitting the club.
But he would not reveal for whom he was signing.
The 30-year-old said that it was not because of relegation that he decided to leave, more because of work commitments.
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He said: "I had a chat with [Richard] Brady and I was thinking about coming back, but I have decided not to. I have agreed to sign with another club, but I have not signed yet and I don't want to say just yet who that club is.
"It was a difficult decision to make because I got on well with the gaffer and all the boys at Leatherhead, but for different reasons I have decided to move on, which is a shame because I really enjoyed it there.
"Relegation was not really one of the reasons I decided to leave, I had to think about the future and I have had a few offers to stay in the Ryman Premier and had a few offers of trials for Conference South clubs, but because of work commitments I needed something a bit closer to home."
Francis was unwilling to say whether that move closer to home would see him back at Dulwich Hamlet, from whom he signed for Leatherhead.
"No comment," he said.
Francis, who is a decorator by trade, became a firm fans' favourite at Fetcham Grove with his all-action displays and will always be remembered for being a lucky scoring charm - he netted in four games as a Leatherhead player and the Tanners won them all.
But he admitted to playing with an injury in the second half of the season.
He revealed: "I did something to my knee at Tooting & Mitcham last season and I played on it when I should have rested it and got it checked out.
"I had an MRI scan a couple of weeks ago and I have got a slight tear in my knee ligament which requires a bit of rehab and one of the disappointing things for me is that because of that my form dipped. I tried to give it my all, but maybe was not playing to the best of my ability."
Leatherhead were one point short of earning a reprieve in the Ryman Premier Division, with the two other highest place step three sides getting one in the end of season shake-up.
Had they won another 0.03 points per game, they might still be seeing Francis in a green shirt in 2012-13.
Francis added: "It was a shame to get relegated and if we had stayed in the Premier I would probably have stuck it out for another year and given it a go because I enjoyed playing in the Premier.
"No one enjoys a relegation dogfight.
"I have always been in the play-offs or vying for the league and this was a different task that proved to be a good challenge."