“RIP Frank, YNWA” – From Quinn to Gallacher then Frank McGarvey

Celtic have confirmed the sad news that club legend Frank McGarvey passed away earlier today, aged 66.

“Everyone at Celtic is extremely saddened to hear of the death of former striker, Frank McGarvey, who passed away earlier this morning at the age of 66.

The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Celtic are with Frank’s family at this extremely sad time. RIP Frank, YNWA,” the short but terribly sad message from Celtic stated.

All Celtic supporters are distressed to hear of the passing of Frank McGarvey, and will join us in passing on our condolences to Frank’s family and friends. Frank touched all our hearts as a wonderful footballer for Celtic FC.

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.

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.

Frank Mcgarvey With Cup, Celtic V Rangers. 02 May 1985. PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: MaryxEvansxAllstarxStewartxKendall 12096227 editorial use only

This Scottish 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.

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.

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!

But 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.

The Celtic Star ofter reported on Frank’s wonderful podcast with Tommy Sheridan where he spoke brilliantly and with great insight into the modern day matters at Celtic ofter referencing back to his own time at the club as a brave, talented striker.

1979 International Friendly Scotland v Argentina. Frank McGarvey and Diego Maradona at Hampden

That bravery was evident right to the end and on hearing the devastating news from the doctors Frank’s response was to fight the illness and to do all that he could to help others. His last appearance at Celtic Park meant just as much to the Celtic support as it did to Frank and his family and that’s the ultimate compliment to the Celtic legend. There will only ever by one Frank McGarvey.

Rest in Peace, Frank. God bless you, legend.

Scottish Cup Final 1988

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk


  1. For Celtic fans 50 and over this will be an extremely sad day. Frank epitomized the team of the early 80s who were only one or two players short of being extremely successful but nevertheless gave us lots of happy memories, they weren’t in it for the money they were proud to wear the Jersey and when we lost we knew that they felt it the same as we did. We didn’t lose many rangers games in those days and it was because of people like Frank giving everything they had for us.