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PersonalFull Name: Francis McGarvey
aka: Frank McGarvey
Born: 17 March 1956
Signed: 11 March 1980
Left: 31 May 1985
First game : St.Mirren home league 2-2, 12 March 1980
Last game : Dundee United Hampden scottish cup final 2-1, 18 May 1985
First goal : Hibernian home 4-0 league 29 March 1980
Last goal : Dundee United Hampden scottish cup final 2-1, 18 May 1985
International Caps: 7 caps
International Goals: no goals
BiogFrank McGarvey signed for the Celts in March 1980 from Liverpool for a Scottish record fee of £250,000 which was a considerable sum at that time. He made his debut one day after signing, at Parkhead, against his former club St Mirren in a 2-2 league draw. There had been media speculation that Celtic had been after his signature for a considerable time although initially in May 1979 they had baulked at meeting St.Mirren's £300,000 transfer fee which was not a problem to the Anfield club.
McGarvey had been the hottest property in Scottish football between 1977 and 1979 as part of Alex Ferguson's fine young St.Mirren side and had been a regular thorn in Celtic's side scoring against them on many occasions.
He had been at Anfield for less than a year but after failing to settle in England and he took a pay cut to end his Mersey misery although he had been top scorer in the Liverpool reserve team and Bob Paisley was keen for him to stay. It's said that Aberdeen offered Frank a better offer to go Pittodrie and Alex Ferguson, a notorious bad loser, would not speak to him for many years in view of this.
The Celtic fans were highly delighted at his acquisition and Frank scored his first goal against Hibs on 29th March on the day that George Best turned out for Hibs at Parkhead. Four days later he endeared himself to the Celtic support when he scored a late winner against Rangers in a memorable 1-0 win at Celtic Park. Celtic's form inexplicably deteriorated in the following weeks and they lost a substantial lead in the league to allow Aberdeen to take the title on the last day of the season. Rumours abounded at that time that Celtic players were not happy with Frank's high wage in comparison to their own although he was part of the team that beat Rangers in the 1980 Scottish Cup Final at Hampden, playing well and developing a promising partnership with George McCluskey.
The new 1980/81 was to be an important one and Frank was not to let Celtic down. He formed a magnificent partnership with Charlie Nicholas and sometimes George McCluskey, and they scored 70 goals between them that season with Frank top scorer on 29. He scored a hat trick against Diosgyoeri Miskolc in the ECWC although he was controversially sent off in the next round against Politechnican Timosoara. In March 1981 he scored a spectacular hat trick in a 7-0 romp at Parkhead, the pick of the bunch being a goal where he rounded two defenders and although falling, fired a magnificent 25 yard shot into the top corner of the net, receiving a standing ovation on the half time whistle for his efforts. Celtic clinched the title at Tannadice a month later with Frank scoring in a 3-2 win. He had now added consistency to his game and was regarded as the most complete forward in the country at this time.
The 1981/82 season again saw him on top form. He scored a contender for goal of the season on November 7th when he curled a shot high past Aberdeen's Jim Leighton from outside the area. On January 9th at Ibrox Billy McNeill tried the delicate talents of Nicholas and McCluskey up front with McGarvey on the bench but that partnership was ineffective and Celtic went down meekly by 1-0, without Frank's stamina and work rate. McNeill later acknowledged his error and from that time Frank was the first choice Celtic striker. Frank McGarvey was a courageous and determined player and this was never more witnessed than on March 3rd 1982 when he scored a late winner against Morton in front of a paltry Parkhead crowd of 9,000. Celtic had been awarded a penalty late in the game and Morton keeper Roy Baines saved Frank's spot kick, Frank followed through with Baines saving again before the bold Celt eventually bundled the ball home at the third time of asking. It was not pretty but very effective and gave Celtic two much needed points. However, on March 31rst disaster struck when he broke a leg at Tannadice and Celtic were then in big trouble as Nicholas had also broken a leg six weeks previously, although despite this the Celts won the title again, mainly thanks to George McCluskey's efforts in attack.
In 1982/83 McGarvey scored 26 goals although this was eclipsed by Nicholas's total of 48. A media entourage followed Nicholas that season, particularly after the new year, as he became something of a celebrated figure both in footballing and social terms. However the morale of the side suffered and another league was surrendered this time to Dundee United. Nicholas moved on to the bright lights of London with Arsenal but without Frank to do his leg work his career would gradually decline through time. Celtic had the small consolation of thumping Rangers 4-2 at Ibrox in their final league game with McGarvey scoring a typical brave header from a Davie Provan cross.
After McNeill's acrimonious departure in the summer of 1983, Davie Hay was a surprise appointment as manager. Initially Frank was injured and when he returned Hay leaned on his experience heavily. The early signs were encouraging as McGarvey scored spectacular efforts against Aarhuus and Sporting Lisbon in the UEFA cup and also scored in both Old Firm wins in September and November, both by 2-1.
However by March Frank had lost his place to Jim Melrose and although he would win it back it was clear that Hay did not rate McGarvey as high as the supporters did. In 1984 Hay brought Alan McInally and Mo Johnston to Celtic and competition was great for the striker's jerseys. Frank responded by scoring consistently and Celtic made it through to the 1985 Scottish Cup Final against Dundee United. Hay's job was on the line and when Frank scored a dramatic late winner it looked like a happy future for all. However it was a huge shock when 48 hours later Frank refused an 'insult' of new contract and moved to St. Mirren for £75,000. It was a bad loss for Celtic as Frank had a lot of good football in him and Mark McGhee was a poor replacement for him a few months later from SV Hamburg.
By then he had played 245 times for the Bhoys and scored 113 goals. As a Celt he won two league titles, two Scottish Cups and a League Cup.
On October 5th 1985 Frank returned to Celtic Park in St. Mirren's colours and was visibly moved as the huge Celtic support in the Jungle chanted his name for almost the entire ninety minutes. He was cheered on and off the park that day.Indeed even on the Love Street 1986 game which is now down in Celtic folklore the Celtic fans could still be heard chanting "Frank McGarvey is still a Tim" even although there was so much at stake that day.
Despite his small frame Frank McGarvey had the heart of a lion and was an excellent leader of the line for Celtic. Despite coming up against defenders who had greater height and weight Frank gave his all for the Celtic cause and was much loved by the Celtic fans. He was an excellent player and had far more skill than he was given credit for even allowing for his unorthodox style. He was also a most unselfish player and it should be remembered that Nicholas, McCluskey and Brian McClair were all top scorers in the Premier League with Frank playing alongside them as the common denominator.
Interesting anecdote from Frank on the facilities (sic!) in Celtic Park at the time: “We had no gym so... a group of players were doing sit-ups in the foyer of Celtic Park when Desmond White [the chairman] and some businessmen visiting the stadium passed through and had to step over us.”
In 2009, Frank McGarvey released his autobiography, and a bit of an eye opener it was too. Veered very much on the side of being incredibly frank (!) about his own life, delving into his gambling demons. Of the many players with the gambling bug, his was the worst and it was the root to his personal downfall. In many ways, it took over his life. In his book he admitted that on looking to buy a property his mentality was pushing him to rather save for gambling instead! He ended up buying a lesser home in time but then gambling took over and he lost it all: his home and his marriage and he ended up in a “dump of a rented flat with only a mattress for a bed” contemplating suicide.
He did try to tackle his demons, and had the strength to regain his self-control being a regular member of Gambler's Anonymous [even whilst a Celtic player]. However, through this he ended up in further trouble when he liaised with a book runner he met through the meetings which led on to him being banned from William Hill & Ladbrokes!
Frank was a joiner to trade and as of 2009 he seemed to have got his life back under control and was running his own flooring company. Another "character" amongst the plenty we've had in our time.
Frank McGarvey of Celtic will last long in the memory of those who saw him and is still a regular attendee at Celtic Park but nowadays Frank sits in amongst the supporters just as he did all those years ago when he was a young bhoy watching his Celtic from the "Jungle".
Anecdote1) A story apparently told by Frank McGarvey. A ball was played to him out on the touchline beside the jungle , and Frank got it under control and was starting to run up the wing. Someone shouted 'c'mon frank show's some o' yer magic' which prompted someone else to shout 'aye, disappear'.
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Honours with Celtic[...]
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, May 26 2012, 4:46 PM EDT
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