Celtic Legend Frank McGarvey’s Finest Hour

All Celtic supporters are distressed to hear of the illness of Frank McGarvey, and we naturally wish him well. It comes as a bit of a shock to realise that it is now forty years since Frank wore the hoops – and with distinction.

There can be little doubt that his finest hour was the 1985 Scottish Cup final against Dundee United when Frank launched himself at an Aitken cross to win the Cup just a few minutes after Davie Provan had levelled the scores. If I have watched that once on You Tube, I have watched it a thousand times! In the history of a club which is festooned with fine Scottish Cup final moments from Jimmy Quinn to Patsy Gallacher to Jimmy McGrory to Billy McNeill and Dixie Deans, this one deserves a place on the podium – at least.

Frank Mcgarvey, celebrates after scoring the winner in the 1985 Scottish Cup Final, 16 May 1985. Photo Mary Evans Allstar

That goal meant so much to us. We had had so many blows in the early 1980s – Charlie Nicholas, Rapid Vienna spring immediately to mind with the main villains being, of course, the old Board whose reign of horror still had a decade to run. 1984 had brought no trophies with the sheer bad luck of the 1984 Cup final vivid in mind, and 1985 had seen inconsistency, lack of self belief, an unhappy support and the League heading north to Aberdeen.

This Cup final of 1985 therefore meant something. Davie Hay, likeable but hamstrung by the awful Board, was not coping well and how we needed a triumph! That was what Frank provided for us that dull day of 1985, and for that we are for ever grateful.

Davie Provan & Frank McGarvey hold aloft the Scottish Cup in 1985 after defeating Dundee Utd

Frank had played but not starred in the Scottish Cup final of 1980 (not long after he joined the club) and he had also won two Scottish League medals and one Scottish League Cup medal for Celtic, and seven Scottish caps. Arguably his best game had been against St Mirren in March 1981 when he scored a hat-trick (again worth a look at on You Tube) but then in the very flush of victory of 1985, the club offered him a half-hearted one year contract.

Frank Mcgarvey Photo: Mary Evans via IMAGO

Not unnaturally, Frank turned this down and departed. That it was the wrong decision was proved two years later in 1987 when after Celtic had had a terrible trophyless season and been betrayed by “want away” players – one of them the detestable Maurice Johnston – Frank won another Scottish Cup medal, this time with St Mirren. The memory remains of him with a huge black and white lum hat in the celebrations, when it really should have been a green and white hat, if he had received fair treatment from Celtic!

He will always be Frank McGarvey of Celtic. He wrote a book called “Totally Frank” and it is just that as it lifts the lid on the murky world of gambling. It is well worth a read as it is written with passion and honesty.

His place in Celtic history is an honourable one, and we wish him and his family well as he battles that dreadful illness called cancer.

David Potter

READ THIS…“There’s only one Frank McGarvey,” Celtic support rallies round a Hoops Hero

About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

1 Comment

  1. There’s only Frank McGarvey
    Fans in their 50s and upwards will remember how many big goals Frank got for us and we’re with him in his fight. YNWA 💚