Geoff Francis is a published author, poet and lyricist. He is also a four-times Saatchi shortlisted artist, an award-winning photographer, a film-maker and Creative Director of Bonobo TV, a not for profit internet TV channel that celebrates respect for the planet and all those who share it.
His passion for football began early, with Stanley Matthews a boyhood hero.
'When I was seven years old, I was asked, “What are you going to be?” I replied, “I am going to be an artist or I am going to be Stanley Matthews”. In those days the slightest prowess with a ball earned the accolade, “Hey, Stanley Matthews!” The comparison made many a young boy feel proud."
Having become recognised as an artist, Geoff returned to the other part of his naive prediction. In year 2000 he started to write a script which has allowed him to engage with, and give a voice to, the life of Stanley Matthews.
This became a young adults' novel, which is the inspiration and focal point for a ground-breaking educational initiative to challenge racism through working in schools with disadvantaged young people in the UK.
This was the first of two books featuring the life and passion of (Sir) Stanley Matthews. And the book is called Stanley Matthews: The Black Man with a White Face, created at the behest of Stan's daughter, Jean, for the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. It tells the story of Stan's very long-term involvement in African football and his personal confrontation of apartheid. This was used as the basis of a short film by the BBC during that tournament.
Tony White and Geoff first had connections some 20 years ago, when Geoff was working with Linda McCartney, Rita Tushingham and Carla Lane on Animaline, the project that he had set up and ran for them. From that time to this he has admired not only the quality of Tony's work but the quality of the man as a human being. Tony's integrity, enthusiasm and energy are boundless. When Tony came up with the idea of turning the book into an original 2D animated film, Geoff knew it was the right way for the story to be realised and brought to the world.
So who was Sir Stanley Matthews?
The legend who was the 'Black Man with the White Face'.