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PersonalFullname: Francis McAvennie
aka: Macca, Frank McAvennie, Frankie Bhoy
Born: 22 November 1959
Signed: October 1987/January 1993
Left: March 1989/May 1994
Position: Striker, Centre-forward
First game (1st spell): Hibernian 1-1 home 3 October 1987 league
Last game (1st spell): Hearts 2-1 home 18 March 1989 scottish cup
First goal (1st spell): Morton 3-1 home 10 October 1987 league
Last goal (1st spell): Clydebank 4-1 home 18 February 1989 scottish cup
First game (2nd spell): Airdrieonians 1-0 away 23 January 1993 league
Last game (2nd spell): Raith Rovers 0-0 away 5 February 1994 league
First goal (2nd spell): Saint Johnstone 5-1 home 30 January 1993 league
Last goal (2nd spell): Airdieonians 1-0 home 31 August 1993 league cup
International Games: 5 games
International Goals: 1 goal
Striker Frank McAvennie was unquestionably one of the most popular and colourful "characters" to pull on the Hoops in the 80s, but probably will be remembered more for being one of our most controversial (in comical ways as well!)
With his bleached blonde hair, designer clothes, page 3 model wife, seemingly unquenchable love of champagne, the "burdz" and the highlife, McAvennie was the epitome of the clichéd 80s playboy footballer, as renowned for his scoring off the field as on it. But for all his off-field antics the man known to Celtic fans as ‘Macca’ will always be fondly remembered by the Bhoys support as a wonderful and blessed footballer.
McAvennie possessed a great awareness of space and an exquisite touch. Despite his love of partying the Glasgow-born forward was always prepared to put in a shift on the football pitch.
A lifelong Celtic fan, McAvennie grew up in Milton and started his professional career at St.Mirren where his performances caught the eye of scouts from both north and south of the border. West Ham United won the race to take the striker away from Love Street and it soon became obvious that the Hammers had struck gold as McAvennie forged a forward partnership with Tony Cottee that terrorised defences in the English top flight.
The goalscoring exploits of the duo saw the Hammers make a serious challenge for the league title in 1986 but in the end the Londoners fell just short of the championship, finishing third behind Liverpool and Everton.
In truth the Upton Park side never came close to reaching those heights the following year but Cottee and McAvennie continued to have their admirers. Now a Scotland international McAvennie was a major star on and off the field, even making an appearance as a guest on Terry Wogan’s primetime BBC 1 chat show. The capture of McAvennie in October 1987 for £750,000 was then quite a coup for Celtic manager Billy McNeill. He made his debut in the 1-1 draw against Hibs at Celtic Park on 3 Oct 1987.
Although Macca had not quite maintained the sensational form of season 85/86 he remained a high profile and sought after asset. His debut season for the Bhoys was the stuff of dreams. Spearheading a revitalised Celtic team Macca formed a prolific partnership with Andy Walker. Frank’s touch and vision combined with Walkers clinical finishing provided the perfect foil for the midfield artistry of Paul McStay as Celtic won a wonderful and eternally memorable league and Scottish Cup in their Centenary season.
McAvennie’s contribution to that success was significant and stylish. On January 1 1988 he welcomed in the New Year with a delectable double against bitter rivals and reigning champions Rangers, his goals giving the Bhoys a well deserved 2-0 victory.
That game had been Frank’s second Old Firm clash as a player. The first – at Ibrox on October 17 - was also memorable for Macca, but for very different reasons. Just weeks after arriving back home in Scotland Frank found himself at the centre of one of the most controversial incidents in Scottish football history. During a typically frantic derby tussle McAvennie and Rangers keeper Chris Woods squared up to each other after a clash in the box. A melee ensued with players shoving each other and Frank was grabbed by the throat as Woods and Rangers skipper Butcher set about the Celtic man. All three were red-carded during the 2-2 game and the trio - along with Ibrox-based Englishman Graham Roberts – became embroiled in an unprecedented court case where they had to answer charges of "behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace". This remarkable piece of legal action resulted in McAvennie and Roberts escaping without punishment but Woods and Butcher were fined for their aggressive actions. McAvennie was later to say on the whole matter that "it was the season where they couldn't even beat us in court!".
Back on the pitch Celtic swept to the championship in style before McAvennie capped off the season with a typically show stealing performance in the Scottish Cup final against Dundee United. With Celtic trailing United 1-0 Macca pounced twice in the last 15 minutes – the winner coming just seconds from the end - to snatch a dramatic but just victory at a sunbathed Hampden Park.
The sunshine turned to rain the next season (88/89) though as Celtic’s form slumped. Macca was missing the bright lights of London but on the pitch he still showed his quality on a regular basis and had netted 17 times by March. However, the fallout of that incident at Ibrox and the intensity of attention that comes with being a high profile footballer in Glasgow meant that Frank was getting itchy feet. Add to that the fact that Celtic were said to owe him money from when he first signed, then a parting of the ways seemed inevitable.
Macca had tasted the bright lights of the party life in London and was addicted to it, with then Celtic manager (Billy McNeill) stating that the first thing out of Celtic Park on a Saturday was McAvennie to get his flight to London for Saturday night life. Add in that he was at this point spending more than he was earning and it was inevitable that things were just not going to be sustainable. So just 17 months after becoming a Bhoy, the profligate Frank McAvennie returned to West Ham in a reported £1.5m deal. A sad loss for the support who had idolised him since he had come back to the club and it was many a year before we got another striker of his ability at his peak again.
But that wasn’t the last the Hoops support were to see of Frankie Bhoy. By 1992 Frank was a free agent. His return to London had been a disaster. The Hammers were relegated and Frank suffered a broken leg.
The glory days of the past were now distant memories after a very brief spell with Aston Villa he was set to return to Glasgow to play for Partick Thistle!
It was an embarrassing transfer saga that saw Macca wave the Partick Thistle above his head for a photo shoot before Celtic manager Liam Brady for some reason nipped in to secure his signature. It was quite poor and reflected badly on Brady especially when he denied knowing that Frank was going to sign for Partick Thistle.
The returning Frank was a shadow of his former self but in fairness he was probably in better shape than the rudderless and virtually penniless Celtic he had rejoined. Their was to be no fairytale end to McAvennie’s Celtic career which ended without a lining of silverware. In fairness, he did score a fair number to provide a boost but we needed much more than just a man winding down his career. A reunion with Lou Macari at Celtic in his short managerial spell didn't go down too well with McAvennie (they never saw eye to eye).
In February 1994, Macari loaned McAvennie to EPL strugglers Swindon Town, and he made just seven league appearances and failed to score as the Robins were relegated in bottom place at the end of a season in which they managed a mere five wins and conceded 100 goals.
He wound down his career with diddy spells at Falkirk & St Mirren.
Following his retirement from football McAvennie retained a high media profile in Scotland as he continued to live up to his reputation. But life turned sour for Frank as he became addicted to cocaine, lost his wife and he began to have regular brushes with the law. In 1996 he was found guilty of being in possession of cocaine, and in that same year he was declared bankrupt. In 1999 he was found guilty of drink driving.
Frank’s playboy persona has been memorably parodied in the TV football sketch show ‘Only An Excuse’ by Jonathan Watson who gave Macca the now (in)famous ‘Where’s the burdz?’ catchphrase, although he himself has said to have grown to hate it. Over-used it became too much of a cliché, with a one-off TV spin-off show ("I, Macca") flogging the joke to death.
Whatever people think of McAvennie’s lifestyle he remains generally a well liked figure among many in the Celtic support (for various reasons). What cannot be disputed is the fact that on the football field he was a very genuine talent who in that glorious Centenary season made dreams come true. Off the field is a different thing all together.
|APPEARANCES||LEAGUE||SCOTTISH CUP||LEAGUE CUP||EUROPE||TOTAL|
Honours with CelticScottish Premier Division
Quotes"There's as much chance of [Frank] McAvennie moving as there is of Rangers beating us 5-1 tomorrow."
Billy McNeil, Celtic (Manager) commenting on reports that Macca was heading back to London.
We did lose 5-1 the next day, and Macca left soon after!
"When I put the second one in, the whole stadium erupted and the crowd began singing "Happy Birthday Dear Celtic". Anyone who didn't know it was a special year, they would know then. It was all as if it was meant."
Frank McAvennie on the 2-0 victory v Rangers Jan 1988 (match)
"The old Board were all aresholes! The deal was done on a Holiday Inn napkin. I should have realised something was wrong as I was in the F****** Hilton!"
Frank McAvennie on the old Biscuit Tin board of Celtic
"When I was younger, I used to go and watch Celtic every week. My dad took me home and away. I didn't start playing football until I was 19, simply because I used to go and watch Celtic and I didn't think I was good enough. Probably a lot of people would say I wasn't. My favourite thing about match days was getting up and waiting for my uncle to come with the car to take me and my dad to the game. Walking up to the ground among the crowd and getting that buzz was amazing. I love football because it's given me such a great life. I've made mistakes but we all have - mine just get highlighted a lot more. I just love the whole concept of football. People say it's being taken away from the man in the street but I don't think that's the case. I'm a fan again and I go to watch Celtic and West Ham and I love it."
Frank McAvennie (2010)
"My chat-up line used to be, 'I know a lot of Page 3 birds - show me your boobs and I'll see how they compare."
"It was like Goldilocks and the Three Bears."
Frank McAvennie on his 1987 Old Firm bust-up with Woods, Butcher and Roberts
Typical Macca Stories1)Interviewer: But surely you get "bother" in Glasgow from Rangers fans...
Macca: No, they're no problem at all. I'm always treated brilliantly in Glasgow. In fact I was out in a bar up there with a Page 3 girl this one time; short skirt and boobs, the usual. Anyway, this fight broke out and there was beer and glass going everywhere. Frankie Miller, the [Scottish R&B] singer, was with us, but instead of protecting the girl, he dived on top of me to make sure I didn't get hurt! She wasn't best-pleased [chuckles].
This doesn't refer to the old 1980's program on Channel 4 (although it wouldn't be past Macca to have tried to get on this show to get close to Anneka Rice's arse), but refers to his continued charmed life. One day Frank was en route to Holland, when he was stopped and found to have £100k in a bag in the back of his car alongside drugs. The bag with the money was confiscated as being potentially drug money (as were the drugs of course), and Macca you'd think was in dire straits.
So what was McAvennie's reasoning for the large amount of money in the bag? He claimed that the money was for financing a Treasure Hunt for some sunken ship in the English Channel! Of all the daft stories ever concocted that is right up with them, but he is adamant its the truth (as he would in this situation). At least it makes you laugh and smile if nothing else.
As per usual, he got away with it all again! Don't know what to say about this guy at all! He leads a very charmed life.
3) McAvennie & Monday Mornings (taken from "Celtic Underground" 2010)
Frank McAvennie to his audience at a sportsman's dinner:“The gaffer (Big Billy) was brilliant to me when I first moved to Celtic. He knew how much I loved the club but understood the life I had in London was a brilliant one for a daft boy from the Milton. We’d agreed that I could fly down to London straight after Saturday’s match and get the early bird flight back to Glasgow on Monday morning.
"After a few weeks the gaffer started getting pissed aff with me as I was always late for Monday training mainly because when my 7am flight from Heathrow was leaving I was also just departing Stringfellows! The fines were eating into my wages big time so as I was telling my story to a mate back in Glasgow who told me he knew of someone who worked for Radio Clyde who could help me out on a Monday morning and it was only half the cost of my fine. Just you be there at the usual time on Monday morning and I’ll make sure my contact gets you to Barrowfield in time for training says the mate.
"There I am worse for wear on the Monday at Glasgow airport feeling rough after another all-nighter. As I stumble into arrivals this guys comes up to me and goes Frank I’m here to get you to Barrowfield on time for training. I’m looking at my watch and thinking to myself who is he Nigel fcken Mansell as training starts in 15 mins. No matter I goes with it but rather than leave the main exit he takes me through another door within the airport.
"I’m thinking what’s going on here but two minutes later we walk outside and turn the corner and there it is, a f**en helicopter! The pilot says strap yourself in we’ll be there in ten minutes and no kidding ten minutes later the Bhoys are doing their warm up at Barrowfield and look up only to see this helicopter landing on the middle of the pitch. They are all thinking what the f**k and they see me popping my head out the door. Everybody is lying about the pitch laughing their faces off and give the gaffer his due he’s pishing himself laughing as well. Just as I’m leaving the chopper I says to the pilot cheers mate thanks for your help oh and by the way whit’s your name. George says the pilot, Captain George from Radio Clyde eye in the sky!"
Scoring at the wrong time
By John BrewinA voracious appetite for birds, booze and drugs rarely complements a fruitful footballing career but Frank McAvennie, a striker who once scored goals as freely as he partied, made a genuine effort to marry the two.
His star may have shone brightly at times but McAvennie's is a classic tale of diminishing returns, rather like the cocaine he regularly shoved up his nose. Saturday 22 November will see the former St Mirren (twice), West Ham (twice), Celtic (twice), Aston Villa (briefly), Swindon (briefly) and Falkirk (even more briefly) player hit his 49th birthday. At one point that may have seemed an unlikely milestone for him to reach. Yet he's still alive and he's still causing trouble.
At the three clubs he revisited during his helter skelter career, he is remembered for a fantastic first spell and a second stint that failed to reignite the old magic. At St Mirren he was something of a late developer, only making the breakthrough to the Paisley club's first team at 21 after abandoning his previous occupation as a streetcleaner and the amateur football in which he honed his skills. In his first full season he earned the Scottish Young Player of the Year award. At the twilight of his career, he returned to Love Street for a brief but fruitless spell.West Ham fans will never forget the season of 1985-86 and he was the name on everyone's lips that season, where the Hammers achieved their best league position in a 113-year history.
McAvennie scored 26 goals while part of a wonderful partnership with Tony Cottee. Yet the season he came back to East London - 1988-89 - the Irons were relegated. It was during this latter period that his love affair with the mirror and the razor blade developed. Celtic was the team McAvennie had supported since childhood and he achieved every Bhoys' dream when he scored the goals to secure a league and cup double in the club's centenary year - 1988. McAvennie maintains this was the proudest moment of his career. His return, at 34, saw him fail to match previous Parkhead heights as the Hoops languished in the doldrums.
Like pal and fellow Scot Charlie Nicholas, McAvennie's move south saw him exposed to a world of glamour models and flowing champagne. Yet at first, the bright lights seemed to inspire the man at West Ham, in contrast to Nicholas' poor start at Arsenal. Signed for £340,000 in the summer of 1985, McAvennie's pace and goalscoring exploits soon saw him hit the headlines.
By Christmas 1985 he led the First Division goalscoring charts. Yet he was not quite as famous as he might have been. A TV blackout after a contractual dispute saw no league football shown live or even as highlights for the first half of the season. It was not until the Third Round of the FA Cup, a late win at Charlton Athletic, that an English TV audience even saw McAvennie's fashionably flowing blonde highlighted mullet in action. ITV's Saturday lunchtime Saint and Greavsie proved McAvennie's anonymity among the general public by introducing him to pedestrians wandering through London's West End.
Very few recognised him. By the time the cameras were switched on in early 1986 perhaps McAvennie's best had already been and gone, though he continued to support Cottee's own scoring exploits. West Ham went into the last weeks of the season with a genuine chance of the title only to fall four points short of champions Liverpool. Everton beat the Hammers to second too.
Meanwhile, McAvennie narrowly lost out to Toffees striker Gary Lineker in the scoring charts, which the Scot put down to the England man's taking of penalties. Lineker's ability to escape the tabloid glare when McAvennie was hitting the headlines for reasons outside football was long a bugbear too.
It was always likely to happen... McAvennie fell foul of the disciplinarian's discipline. Barricading Ferguson and assistant Walter Smith into their rooms so that he and Nicholas could head out for a 'bevvy' when the team were altitude training in Santa Fe was hardly likely to secure selection and McAvennie was only used a substitute during another failed Scots campaign.
The dream move to Celtic in the summer of 1987 followed a goalshy second season at West Ham, where a burgeoning relationship with 'Page 3' girl Jenny Blyth took his mind off the football but kept him in the headlines. As at Upton Park, success on the pitch swiftly arrived at his new club. The proud Celt secured his place in the Parkhead pantheon by scoring two late goals in the Scottish Cup Final but there were already problems. McAvennie was commuting to London and back while playing in Glasgow to spend time with his busty lovely. Agent Bill McMurdo - who also represented George Best at the time - told how his charge was spending £4,000 a week while earning just £3,000.
The Bhoys were unable to pay him the cash he needed, his time at Celtic was soon over and West Ham were able to lure him back before the end of the 1988-89 season. Arsenal, going for the league title, had been sniffing around but McAvennie chose to go for the devil he knew. It was the wrong decision; the Hammers were relegated at the end of the season.
Lou Macari replaced the sacked John Lyall as Hammers boss and the relationship between manager and star striker was never remotely cordial. Further disaster struck when McAvennie suffered a broken leg at the beginning of the next season, which he missed almost totally. Not only that, a £400,000 purchase of an Essex mansion proved to be at just the wrong time. The housing market crashed and the house, shared with Blyth, was repossessed within a year of purchase.
It was during that long injury lay-off that his use of cocaine began. And, as he eventually admitted, continued once he was back playing. He eventually departed Upton Park for Aston Villa after scoring a hat-trick on his last game for the Hammers in May 1992. It was too late, as they had again been relegated.
At Villa, Ron Atkinson was able to use him just three times before a return to Parkhead, where he again found himself at a club in crisis amid Rangers' nine league titles in a row. And in came Lou Macari as manager... brief periods at Swindon, Falkirk, back at St Mirren and out in Hong Kong followed.
A brief period in America signalled the end of his football career but not his time in the tabloids. A split from Blyth, a failed marriage and being twice being arrested for possession of cocaine all made the red tops over the years. In 1994 he rocked British football by admitting his use of the drugs and confessed to blowing £700,000 on the repossessed house, booze and drugs.
After a long wait, a court in 2000 agreed with McAvennie's claim that the money had been meant for a hunt for treasure buried beneath the sea in a shipwreck. Now resident in Newcastle, the man who had been earning £5,000 a week in his latter West Ham days was penniless and jobless, being supported by a younger new wife.
In the years since, with the old "devil's dandruff" now long forsworn, McAvennie is able to carve something of a living as an after-dinner speaker and match-day host at West Ham and Celtic, living off tales from his colourful career. A tell-all confessional autobiography was knowingly called Scoring: An Expert's Guide.
Yet trouble continues to follow him. A brawl the night before a charity match on the Isle of Man saw him charged with affray and disorderly conduct in July 2008. A boozy binge with fellow hellraiser Andy Goram had gone badly wrong and McAvennie faces a court date in January 2009.
"Bad boy Frank McAvennie in pub fight" said the Daily Mirror headline. At 49, he might enjoy being given such a youthful label yet the continued controversy and brushes with the law show he may not yet have learned the lessons of a career that should have delivered far more.
Spiers on Saturday: Frank McAvennie is back in town and back on the marketSpiers on Saturday
Saturday 18 May 2013
You might have heard by now...Frankie Boy is back in town.
I had heard bulletins of Frank McAvennie ducking here and diving there, so the time seemed ripe for a catch-up. "Aye, sure," Frank says to me on the phone. "I'm in the gym tomorrow morning . . . how about a coffee afterwards?" Sure thing, Frank, I tell him.
I find McAvennie at 53 looking pretty well, though he has the faintest hint of a pot at the midriff and he hobbles a bit when he walks. "I've almost just got one leg," Frank explains. "This one [his left] is finished." He tries to wiggle the ankle. "Look, it can hardly move," he says. The years catch up.
Frank is back in Scotland, it would seem, after another "domestic". Wife no.2 has just been jettisoned, the result of some pretty stark talking by Frank.
It seems he is also temporarily divorced from his driving licence, though he is keen to point out this is due to speeding offences, and not drink-related.
"My wife and I had been together for a while; 14 years I'd been down in Newcastle," he says. "But there's been a split. I'm getting divorced. Two times married, now two times divorced. It's a shame, but it was on the cards. What can you do? I'm back on the market..."
Just as I was expressing regret over this turn of events, Frank clarified it for me. "Thing is, my wife found out I wanted to come back up to Scotland . . . but not with her. That speeded things up a bit, in terms of the divorce. It went downhill fairly rapidly after that. I don't think we'll be keeping in touch. Saying that, once the bitterness passes, maybe we will. But not just now."
Whenever anyone in Scotland sees Frank McAvennie they cannot get the Jonathan Watson caricature out of their heads. I was just the same sipping coffee with him yesterday.
Does he mind this infamous send-up? "Naw, I think some of the things Jonathan does are hilarious," he says. "But there's not much reality, really, between me and him [the caricature]. Yes, I was Jack the Lad, everyone knows that. I loved chasing after girls . . . the chase was great.
"But I'm older now. I was in Corinthian [the Glasgow nightclub] recently and this girl came up to me and said, 'you know what Frank, you're a lot better looking in real life than you are on the telly.' She was referring to the Johnnie Watson character. I said to her, 'but we're different people, can't you get that?' But, naw, she couldn't. Actually, a few people have told me they think I'm better looking than the character on the telly. So I'm delighted about that. I take it as a compliment."
It is now 25 years since a McAvennie-inspired Celtic won the double in the club's centenary year. He was a terrific striker – all headers, running and goals – whose greatest season had actually been two years earlier, in 1985-86, when, newly arrived at West Ham United, he scored 26 goals and came as close to winning the First Division title.
In Scotland, McAvennie is lauded and loved for his time at Celtic. My hunch, though, is that his own most prized memory is of his time in the east end of London. "I did something at West Ham that will never be done again," he says.
"We didn't win the league but I will never get back what I had there. I scored 26 goals; only Gary Lineker beat me and he took a load of penalties. It was a brilliant time. I loved West Ham, and the fans really took to me."
It was while in London that Frank dated the busty wench-***-model, Jenny Blyth, whose mere appearance virtually made his tongue fall out. The two of them were regularly photographed out on London town. Frank was besotted with Blyth. I used to imagine a cartoon image of him skiing down the great ravine of her cleavage, his scarf flapping behind him.
Ms Blyth was one reason (perhaps two) why, after just 17 months at Celtic, Frank was begging Billy McNeill to let him return to West Ham, to which the Celtic manager finally consented in March 1989.
"I don't know where she is now," Franks ponders aloud of his old amour. "I've lost touch. Five years we were an item but I ain't got a clue where she is. She was the love of my life at one point . . . but they all were.
"Lots of stories were told about me in London, but not all of them were true. One of them says I left a restaurant at 8am one Saturday morning and went and scored two goals that afternoon. It's a great story, but it's not true. I never went out beyond a Wednesday night before a Saturday, never. I wasn't a good professional, of course I wasn't, but I was fit. And I scored goals. And in a game I'd cover more ground than anyone for the cause."
McAvennie's second tours of duty at both Celtic and West Ham were less successful, and he ended up in a bad way when his career finished in the mid-1990s. "I went off the rails. I got wrecked on booze and drugs. I started waking up in strangers' houses and would say, 'what am I doing here?' I got arrested over drugs and I said to myself, 'right, that's it, enough of this.' I was never addicted to drugs, I was just looking for something else after football. After football I didn't know what to do with myself – I had nothing.
"It was a hard time, but I got out of it. The only person that can help you in these situations is yourself. I didn't need to go to a psychiatrist or anything; I knew what I had to do. I was taking too many drugs. I got arrested, I proved my innocence, but after that, that was it. I got out of all that stuff."
And you're clean now, Frank, right? "I'm clean now. God, yes, very much so. I still take a drink, but mainly in moderation. And the big thing for me now is that I pick my friends, they don't pick me. That's the biggest difference for me."
Frank says he's got "a coupla wee business things going on" which he is excited about. In a fraught career and an even more fraught life, he earned well as a footballer but missed out on the boom times.
"I've got a decent pension but, put it this way, I've still got to work," he says. "The money I earned in the 1980s was good but it wasn't life-changing. I got nowhere near the stuff of today. Four grand a week, five grand a week; that's the most I ever earned.
"I've got a wee agency with some good players aboard. When I say an agency, I'm not an agent myself, but we employ an agent. What I do is, I introduce my business partner to my contacts – cos I've got a stack of those – and he gets on with it. When I go and talk to managers all they want to talk to me about is football and have a laugh – so that's what I do. But then my partner does the other stuff, the business.
"I've got another wee venture going on . . . I hope there is a business thing gonna happen this year that will be good for me. If it comes off it will be brilliant. Fingers crossed, it's in the pipeline."
With this, Frank is off, to play some charity golf with John Hartson. I find the guy highly likeable – perhaps Scottish football's ultimate lovable rogue.
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