Frank McGarvey backs Buddies for cup success after recalling ‘happiest moment’

Tommy Gemmell funeral
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Frank McGarvey recalls with great satisfaction the time his winning goal sent St Mirren to their last Scottish Cup final.

The Paisley side had lost in the semi-finals of the competition in 1982, 1983, and 1984 before they faced Hearts at the last-four stage at Hampden Park on April 11 1987.

After Ian Ferguson’s opener for the Buddies was cancelled out by Gary Mackay’s 74th-minute strike, McGarvey fired in from close range with eight minutes remaining to take Saints to their first final since 1962, where they would go on to beat Dundee United 1-0 after extra time.

As he looked forward to Jim Goodwin’s St Mirren side taking on St Johnstone in Sunday’s semi-final at Hampden Park, the former Celtic and Scotland striker remembered how pleased he was with the club’s success 34 years ago.

He told the PA news agency: “That was one of the happiest moments of my whole life.

“St Mirren kept getting into semi-finals in the early 1980s, three before that one in 1987 and they just couldn’t get into a final.

“That stuck in my head. I was so happy I scored but I was also so happy for the club, the players who had never been in a final and for the supporters.

“That was the great thing for me. They were there at last and I was the happiest man on planet Earth that night.

“It was a good time for Scottish football and Hearts were no mugs.

“But I was confident we would beat them. It was a good St Mirren team and every player fought that day.”

It was McGarvey’s first appearance at the national stadium since scoring the winner for Celtic against Dundee United in the 1985 Scottish Cup final, days before he was surprisingly released by the Hoops to rejoin his first club, St Mirren.

He said: “When I had gone back to St Mirren a lot of people had been saying to me, ‘you’ll never win anything again’.

“A few ex-players I was friendly with were saying that as well and I didn’t like that.

“If you are going to win things you need guys in the team who are going to score goals and St Mirren had scorers like me and Ian Ferguson. He scored that day and also in the final.

“For my goal, the ball was in the air and as it was coming down, I had my back to goal and I just turned and I knew I was scoring.

“I hit it on the half-volley and there was no chance for the keeper.”

McGarvey believes Goodwin’s team, who were knocked out of the Betfred Cup at the semi-final stage by Livingston, can go all the way in the Scottish Cup this season.

He said: “Nobody expected us to beat Hearts in 1987 and not a lot of people will be putting money on St Mirren to beat St Johnstone.

“St Johnstone have done marvellously well this year to win the Betfred Cup and to get into another semi-final is a colossal achievement.

“I just feel it will be St Mirren. They can score goals but they have to close up shop at the back a bit better.”

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