Francis Peter McGarvey (17 March 1956 – 1 January 2023) was a prominent Scottish professional footballer known for his career as a forward. He made significant contributions to teams like Celtic and St Mirren and also represented Scotland in international matches.
Born in the bustling city of Glasgow on 17 March 1956, McGarvey’s football journey began with Kilsyth Rangers during the 1974–75 season. He showcased his exceptional talent and emerged as the top scorer with 21 goals that season.
In a career filled with remarkable achievements, McGarvey’s journey led him to St Mirren, where he made his debut on 26 April 1975. He quickly became a first-team regular, scoring 17 times during the 1976–77 season and contributing to the club’s victory in the Scottish First Division.
His outstanding performances caught the attention of legendary manager Bob Paisley, and in May 1979, McGarvey joined the ranks of Liverpool, making a significant move for £270,000. However, his time with the club was relatively short, lasting ten months, as he struggled to secure a place in the first team.
Seeking more playing time, McGarvey made a pivotal move to Celtic in March 1980, with his transfer fee of £270,000 making him Scotland’s most expensive footballer for a brief period. During his five-year stint with Celtic, he played 245 matches and scored an impressive 113 goals. His contributions led to two League Championships, two Scottish Cups, and a Scottish League Cup.
In his final appearance for Celtic, McGarvey left an indelible mark by scoring the winning goal six minutes from the end of the 1985 Scottish Cup Final.
Following his time at Celtic, McGarvey returned to St Mirren in June 1985, for an £80,000 transfer fee. Two years later, he achieved further success by winning his third Scottish Cup with the club. Over the course of his career, he played 387 matches for St Mirren and scored 125 goals.
In the later stages of his career, McGarvey continued to make valuable contributions to the world of football. He had stints with clubs like Queen of the South (where he also served as player-manager), Clyde (where he secured a Second Division Championship title at the age of 37), and later played in junior football with Shotts Bon Accord and Troon.
After retiring from professional football, McGarvey pursued a career as a joiner in his native Scotland. Notably, he played during an era when footballers earned considerably lower salaries, and he once mentioned earning £330 a week while playing for Celtic.
In 2008, McGarvey penned his autobiography, titled “Totally Frank,” where he shared the highs and lows of his career and openly discussed his battle with a long-standing gambling addiction.
Legacy and Advocacy
McGarvey remained connected to the world of football even after retirement. In 2009, he was involved in a controversy related to a UEFA Europa League tie between Celtic and Rapid Vienna of Austria. This match came 25 years after a contentious Cup Winners’ Cup game at Celtic Park, where a Rapid Vienna player claimed to have been struck by a bottle thrown by a Celtic fan. McGarvey urged Rapid Vienna to issue an apology, considering the incident as disrespectful and detrimental to the competition’s spirit.
Personal Life and Passing
In October 2022, McGarvey’s family shared the unfortunate news of his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer. Tragically, on 1 January 2023, at the age of 66, Francis Peter McGarvey passed away. His son confirmed his passing on social media, marking the end of an era in Scottish football.