Frank McGarvey,R I P
It is a sad time for us as we remember the many happy days that Frank McGarvey gave us in just over five years at Celtic Park. The greater loss is felt,of course,by his family and friends who gathered together yesterday to mourn his passing and to celebrate his life.
Sentinel Celts,and all of our contributors,offer our heartfelt condolences. And our thanks.
I hope that Graham Spiers doesn’t mind,but this is his obituary to a great Celt.
Frank McGarvey’s life was a compelling tapestry of highs and lows: football success on the pitch but then depression and addiction off it. “I’ve faced my battles,” he once noted stoically. In later years McGarvey, found solace in his faith and was a regular attender of Catholic Mass in Glasgow. Faith was the prism through which he came to understand his life.
He rose to become a celebrated footballer with St Mirren and Celtic, though there was a time when he thought he would never make it. “You’re too thin, too wiry,” one observer told the twig-like McGarvey when he was trying to break into the St Mirren team under a young, fiery Alex Ferguson in 1975. In some despair Ferguson sent the then 18-year-old on loan to the amateur club, Kilsyth Rangers, to toughen him up, and it did wonders for his development.
“I came back from that spell and Fergie threw me straight into a pre-season friendly with St Mirren,” McGarvey recalled. “The first moment I touched the ball I knew I had an edge. I felt stronger and was never out of the St Mirren team after that.” A mercurial career followed.
McGarvey would go on to play 341 games for St Mirren over two spells, scoring 102 goals, but the stint he is most remembered for are his five seasons with Celtic between 1980 and 1985 when the twisting, turning, ever-elusive McGarvey proved a nightmare for opposing defenders. The pinnacle of his career came with his crashing header that won Celtic the 1985 Scottish Cup over Dundee United with only minutes remaining.
Frank McGarvey was born in 1956 and brought up in Easterhouse, Glasgow. His father, Edward, was a local “sparky” while his mother, Mary, was a popular dinner lady at a local school. Frank was the third of four children, with two older brothers, Edward and Joseph, and a younger sister, Marie.
McGarvey was a man of many tastes — sport, music, reading, arguing — and he soon excelled at football. Having become such a prolific scorer at St Mirren, McGarvey inevitably was destined for greater things, and he came to the attention of Bob Paisley, the legendary manager of Liverpool, who signed him for £270,000 in May 1979. In Scottish football it was a colossal sum at the time. Paisley was building a peerless Liverpool team — at home and abroad — and McGarvey could not resist the challenge.
The move did not work out. While remaining free-scoring in Liverpool’s reserves, McGarvey could not budge outstanding strikers like Kenny Dalglish and David Johnson from the Liverpool starting XI. His wife, Pauline, was pregnant with their first child and McGarvey began to agitate for a return home. And he had no end of suitors back in Scottish football.
Ferguson, by now manager of Aberdeen and in the process of building a formidable team there, chipped away at McGarvey to rejoin him in Scotland’s northeast. Aberdeen offered McGarvey a better wage than Celtic in the early months of 1980. But the striker left Ferguson furious — a theme football would get used to — by going with his heart and joining Celtic for the same £270,000 fee that Liverpool had paid for him.
Off the field life was sweet for McGarvey. He was 21 when he married Pauline in 1978. They would go on to have four children before separating after 18 years together.
McGarvey loved golf and enjoyed reading. His favourite books were The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which he read voraciously, and also read to his children. His favourite rock band was Queen, whose hit-making years ran parallel with McGarvey’s own career. He also enjoyed chess.
McGarvey’s children all went on to have successful careers of their own. Paul McGarvey is a general-manager with David Lloyd fitness. Sean is an executive director of operations with Morgan Stanley. The third son, Scott, is head of technology operations with Tesco Bank, while a daughter, Jennifer, works with Virgin Media.
Silverware — two league titles, two Scottish Cups and one League Cup — beckoned at Celtic. The Parkhead legions adored him. “Frank was best described in Glasgow parlance as ‘gallus’,” recalled his manager, Billy McNeill. “I was never quite sure what Frank was going to do in a game, and I don’t think he was either, but he scored goals for fun. He played football off-the-cuff and became vital to Celtic. In his eyes, no cause was ever lost. He would run all day and had complete faith in his ability. He was great for morale.”
McGarvey was not without a sharp tongue and could make withering comments. More than once he complained, at the height of his Celtic powers, about the paltry pay he was taking home from the club each week: “about £190 after tax”. He once noted that Celtic had no proper gym facilities and recalled when “a group of players were doing sit-ups in the Celtic Park foyer when [chairman] Desmond White and a group of visiting businessmen came in and had to step over us on entering the stadium.”
In 1979 Jock Stein gave him his Scotland debut against Northern Ireland and he would go on to win seven caps, facing, among others, Argentina and Uruguay, though he did not score and his last cap came against Wales in 1984.
McGarvey with his daughter Jennifer at Parkhead last year after he had cancer diagnosed
McGarvey with his daughter Jennifer at Parkhead last year after he had cancer was diagnosed.
In May 1985 McGarvey’s crowning moment came with the header that won the Scottish Cup at Hampden Park. But imminent change was afoot. It would prove his last game for Celtic.
A pay dispute followed, in which McGarvey, then 29, claimed Celtic had made him an “insulting” offer. He promptly left Celtic to rejoin St Mirren, where he would go on to win the 1987 Scottish Cup. When he returned to Parkhead in St Mirren colours a few months later the Celtic fans chanted his name throughout the 90 minutes.
McGarvey would play for Queen of the South, where he was player-manager, and Clyde, with whom he won a second division title aged 37.
For years the pain lingered over his abrupt departure from Celtic, and McGarvey faced other battles in later life. A gambling addiction dogged him, which he spoke openly about in his autobiography Totally Frank. He admitted to squandering money, with which he was supposed to buy a property, on gambling. He lost his house and his marriage and ended up “in a dump of a rented flat with only a mattress for a bed”. There were thoughts of suicide.
But he gradually regained his life, joining Gamblers Anonymous, becoming a joiner and running his own business. Two of his sons, Sean and Scott, spoke on social media of how much love and respect his children retained for McGarvey through all the highs and lows. Contentment came and he became a regular worshipper at St Anthony’s RC Church.
McGarvey took up cycling and his most cherished holiday destination was Millport. Over decades he loved escaping to the island off Scotland’s west coast, where he was a member of Millport golf club. McGarvey’s hobbies included nature programmes — such as the Blue Planet series.
He is recalled at Celtic and St Mirren as one of each club’s most popular players. “Despite his small frame Frank McGarvey had the heart of a lion and was much loved by Celtic fans,” noted The Celtic Wiki. McGarvey is survived by his his partner Susan Lindsay, his former wife, four children and eight grandchildren.
Frank McGarvey was born on March 17, 1956. He died from pancreatic cancer on January 1, 2023, aged 66
Good morning (again) friends.
That’s a decent obituary from Graham Speirs and thanks for copying it over, Bobby. RIP Frank.
Farewell to a great Celt-Frank Mc Garvey.
I will never forget you.
Tommy twisted and turned our adversaries .
You bent them to your every whim with spectacular and unparalleled ability.
Tough read at times — a favourite player back in the day.
His post football trials and tribulations were news to me.
No chance he would have clapped for Maggie as the sockless wonder did to impress his then burd.
Kiltoon angle — the wee TFOD1.0 are junior and not amateur.
L/pool angle — in the market for a fast striker to play off KD — idle speculation but IR was being tracked by the club at the time and probably took his place in the squad / reserve team when he signed three months after FMcG left.
You have to wonder just how clueless our board were at that time — story upon story of penny pinching / bumbling attempts at progress / shambolic organisation / no appetite for real change — big idea was a Sunday car boot sale in the car park.
No matter — he will live long in the memory …
That skin and bone — 10 and a half stone soaking wet? — could have that amount of talent.
Frank was a terrific player for us,and his team-mates certainly appreciated his efforts. So did the fans,we thoroughly enjoyed watching the opposition try to figure out how to take the ball off him. He was blessed with some great striking partners-and they with him!
I didn’t understand David Hay letting him go,especially since we had to sign Mark McGhee only a few months later as a replacement. £250k and higher wages,and about the same age? I think most of us would rather have held on to Frank.
BMCUW @ 10.00
Trying to keep up with the SPL striker roster for the 80’s is a big challenge.
We started off with GMcC and FMG then the sockless wonder turns up and DC — good Kiltoon boy — gets some games as half striker / half winger.
Summer of 83 and GMcC and CN / Sockless wonder depart — BMcL arrives from M/well via Glesga Uni plus the often forgotten JMel who would appear to have struggled to last a season and left under some sort of self made cloud.
Summer of 84 and the later infamous MJ arrives along with AMcIn from Ayr.
Summer of 85 and FMcG departs as noted above / shoved out the door with a poor wage offer with MMcG arriving 5 months later.
Summer of 87 and BMcC / AMcIn leave with JMil and FMcAv arriving sometime later.
That would be the FMcAv who eventually had filled FMcG’s boots at St Mirren.
The SPL is a small world.
Consequently FMcG getting over 5 years at P/head was the exception and not the norm.
From today’s perspective there was an almost incredible amount of talent available locally at that time.
All in one decade with probably a few missing …
R.I. P. Frank
The joy of watching that cup winning header never nearly 38years later never lessens.
Oh and good morning all
Quite a roll call of Scottish talent, added to which at that time- Archibald, Sturrock, MacDougall, Hewitt, Bannon, Milne, even Dodds( pre Huns!!)
And many more I’ve no doubt forgotten.
Morning all…MM, you’ve definitely missed Andy Walker, Tommy Coyne and maybe even Djiekanowski(sp) from the tail end of the 80s.
…Gerry Crainey (sp)?
Sorry…re-read your post! Talking local boys, take Djiekanowski off that list then!
RIP Frank McGarvey
Missing from the 80’s list …
AW @ 1987 — some sort of reflex action to ignore him.
Huge impact during the 87/88 league win.
SKY work means he is history to me.
TC @ 1989 — memory failed me / thought he was a 90’s guy..
DD @ 1989 — see above.
GC @ 1990 for his first game –N/A.
MM…really? Andy Walker is history due to his SKY works but Mo Johnston makes the list! Get outta here!!! 🙄
I thought Crainey was ’89 but I posted the list from memory, a wee google check confirms Crainey signed in ’87 but debuted in March 90.
Your point remains tho’ what a list of local boys who knew the way to goal!!
…and mostly Tims before they played for us, too!
A fine tribute from the son of the manse to one of our own.
Frank’s period at Celtic was a time when I hardly missed a game, home or away. Those late teen early twenties years. Favourite goal would be versus Rangers at CP, horrible wet day, sodden pitch, pass from Nicholas (or it might have been McStay), Frank slides it home on left foot. Even sweeter that it was down at the away end. I always like them to get a good view of our goals ! Whilst Nicholas would glide over a football pitch, but Frank, well, his style was quite unique, to say the least.
Frank must have been good. Why ? His opponents were Miller, McLeish, Hegarty, Narey, etc. Top class players, not the talentless journeymen who currently populate the SPFL. Our competition for the title came from Aberdeen and Dundee, not Govan. The fact that Aberdeen were offering Frank more money than Celtic should surprise no one. The Whites and Kellys knew the lure of the hooped jersey, to someone like Frank McGarvey, would outweigh the cash on offer. Shameful behaviour, but typical.
Like many a player past and present, Frank would struggle to find a purpose in life after his career ended. For him and his family, I’m just glad that he did later in life. A much loved character, taken far too young by the bastard that is cancer.
McC @ 12’ish
You have got it wrong — no MoJo on my list only Judas.
AW would have been on my list if his ongoing SKY exploits were some sort of temporary aberration.
And I did not have a grey moment.
He does us down 2 or 3 times every month.
Judas broke my heart just the once.
MM…need to agree to disagree on that one, my friend!! Judas or MoJo or Maurice Johnston…regardless of the moniker he will never, ever be view as anything other than persona non grata with the Celtic support. An unforgiveable act, aided and abetted by Penis and Murray ensured his place in the Scottish Fitba Hall of Infamy.
I’ll accept your call on Walker but not in comparison to that wee turncoat c###!!
Tough read , but thanks for sharing, Bobby.
Credit also , to Graham Speirs .
Happy Birthday Setting Free The Bears,
Hope you have a great day and thanks again for all your efforts in the Superbru competition 👍👍
RIP Frank McGarvey 💚
Popmaster moving stations…
It’s a sad day when we’re discussing Radio 2 DJ’s 😜😜😜
Remember when Radio Caroline and The Old Grey Whistle Test were flavour of the month. Great times.
Obviously we’re all getting old. !!!!!!!!!!
You coming to the Mini Hoot on Friday ????
I see Celtic are offering three separate packages for hospitality to the LCF priced at £265, £225 and £145. I wonder how many fans on the HCTS will miss out on a ticket for the well heeled fan to turn up for their 2/3 games a season. I’m heartily sick of how Celtic operate their ticket system. It is a disgrace and despite several complaints highlighting this not one thing ever changes. I know that there are plenty who will say hell mend me and they’re probably right but it’s just so frustrating. They market the HCTS as the best chance to get tickets to finals and semi finals when actually the best chance is if you’ve got a few quid. Peasantcsc😡😡
Thanks for your reply. Nope, I am not deliberately looking to take offence. Perhaps I misunderstood your post. Normally you supply a very detailed response with hyperlinks and refs. Friesdorffer certainly thinks I did. Also, I think my request initially reads as a little provocative. I have no difficulty in self assessment.
So, let’s call it my error of judgement. I do not wish to burden the blog with a he said, I said segment.
You post often and on different blogs so it must be a task to manage all of the replies that you get. I shall give you a rest from responding to my humble efforts and I suggest you do the same for me.
Enjoy Malaga and surrounding area,
Remember Stuart Henry as a DJ? At the time, I thought he was awful but now my memories are shrouded in nostalgia. He used to DJ at Strathclyde on Saturdays.
Then there was the embarrassing Tony Blackburn! I used to live across the road, in Kensington, to him and his new wife. Was it Tessa or Tess? They purchased the narrowest house in London. It was a town house and looked like it had been built in between two larger properties as a money grab project during the housing boom of the sixties.
When you look that far back, do you ever get the sense of wonder if that was really you back then?
Keep the nostalgia fires burning.
There is so much I’ve written and done on and off blogs over the years I Iose track.
I remember reading an article I came across and thought the author made sense. To my surprise I was the author!
I tend to be coy when writing what might happen or what I hope will from what I hear from networking.
The PL appointment is a good example. The source had a source close to the action who laughed at idea of PLs return. He is no longer a credible source as a result.
Trust is not always reciprocated.
That coyness is why I’m waiting for Star’s feedback as there is another element to add to the mechanism that I know I discussed off blog and dropped as a result (timing wrong) but can air once I get Star’s comments.
To take things forward if I’m making sense it has to bring in the likes of CST who have ready of clocked the possibilities of TC recommendation of Shadow Boards.
I’m not the best introlocutor with CST but the idea to bring in the wider support should be good enough to put past mistrusts behind and go with it if it makes.
I was wondering why I did not have “being there” memories of Frank McGarvey but for 3 years between 80 and 85 I was in London or Carribean but back by 85 to see his wonder header.
What I do vaguely recall was my lad’s team from EK playing at CQN Fives and Frank being involved with every bit as much enthusiasm as he did when in the Hoops.
Frank mc Garvey rip.
A lovely guy.God rest and bless him and grant his family strength and love
I’ve been in HCTS for 16 years and the original marketing ploy was on convenience; tickets automatically sent out to you; slightly lower price; no lump payments, put into affordable installments.
It’s only over the past five years this new marketing strategy of “better chance of a final ticket” evolved. This has mushroomed the members from say 15-18k to well over 25k. The ticket distribution pays no heed to loyalty to long term existing members. As an example I know bhoys who were on the scheme for a year and got a ticket for the hertz cup final and I didn’t. Furthermore those Corporate tickets you are talking about are the section on the half way line and there’s a bloody lot 😡
When asked about the GG situation Ange said MN deals with transfer negotiations and that from his own perspective, no one is leaving and no one is coming🤔
Ange this afternoon…”As we sit right here no one’s leaving”
The gaffers press conference…
Think Ange needs to go to the chemist and get something for that cough
Happy Birthday to SFTB and a thank you for the Superbru competition……..not that I’m any good at it. Find it difficult to take the Govan Works X1 to draw never mind win😁
For the EK hoot on Friday.
Anyone concerned with the weather and the location !!!!!!
If the Ski lift from the train station is off, then extra snowmobiles, sledges with Huskies and warm blankets will be provided.
Hope that wee bar steward rots in hell.Was obviously more than the 300k from Nantes highlighted at the time.Did not care about Roy Aitken or Billy McNeil at all.All about the money and personal gratification.Hate is a strong word that I use sparingly.Le petite merd and Thatcher.Not too fond of John Brown either.Best stop there.
Rest in peace Frank McGarvey.🙏
Aye, Danny Mac…I agree completely! There can be no other player in our history who deserves NOTHING from the Celtic support as that horrible wee c###! A despicable, shameless, brass-necked turncoat bastard!!
Leggy- hopefully Friday 🤞
Totally agree about Judas. Not just how he screwed the club,the fans and particularly Billy,but for the way he bought into that whole hunnish mindset. Sickening.
Good evening all from Neesons. A rather fresh day, but tomorrow I’m going to Celtic Park to see my beloved Green Machine. Gerrintaethum Celtic!!!!
League Cup final tickets £44-49…….
Tx for the birthday wishes. Just blew out the candle on the cake. I couldn’t afford the cake if I used the right number of candles.
Best wishes to all on here.
Lovely tribute from Graham Speirs. It has to be said, he writes very well.
I am the same as you. Been in the scheme since it started yet Paddy’s maw has had more tickets than me in the 3 years that she’s been in the scheme. One final point on the keeping back of tickets for hospitality. What is the incentive to have a season ticket? Why not just use your £670 to buy hospitality for the two league games and possibly two cup games against the Huns and watch the rest on the telly/ sausage. If we all adopt that attitude the park will be empty. Shhh nobody tell Kev J.
So Ange said that he’s heard nothing about offers for players. I think GG’s agent is working his ticket and in my opinion Ange is not wanting him anyway. I think he knew he could leave this window hence his chat about him and fans not becoming attached to players. He’s limited his time since then and went with a striker who wants to be at Celtic. I understand if GG is pissed off with his wages and if Celtic won’t play ball it’s an inevitable parting of the ways for me. If we don’t have someone in though we are going to be in bother. Plenty of cloggers in the SPL will be targeting Kyogo to help the Huns.
Many happy returns. Hope you got some nice cake.
HAPPY HOOOOOPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!
Glad to know you CAN have your cake and eat it too…
Frank McGarvey as Mad Mitch detailed was one of a decent crop of forwards Celtic had in a decade.
I would think amid that group Francis McGarvey’s love of the club would top the list.Love of the club for what it meant to him as opposed to what having played for the club would help the others financially elsewhere and benefit them personally down the line.
If I had to choose of the list who I thought was the better player I would opt for Brian McClair as he was top goalscorer up here 2/3 seasons I think and then the first Man U player since George Best to score 20 goals in a season.Google may determine otherwise this is just from a fading memory.
As much as at the time we had much to thank Charlie Nicholas and Frank McAvennie for and Alan McInally to a lesser extent they are all self serving twats only interested in their egos,would put Mark McGhee in there too
George McLuskey was excellent and only 2nd to McClair for me.Only my opinion but Frank McGarvey was very much more a Celtic fan than the others mentioned in that decade and if every player that puts on that hoop jersey had his heart desire and love for the Celtic we would be 1 up before a ball was kicked.
Elliot scores a belter from 30 yards for Liverpool. Really wish our players had the instinct to do this. When is the last time we scored from 30 yards plus?
Probably Nakamura against the huns-and that wasn’t yesterday!
Two goals in six FA Cup ties so far. Both from around 30 yards.