CELTIC book author Alex Gordon was with Celtic legend John ‘Yogi’ Hughes in May last year when there was a chance meeting with Frank McGarvey.

“I had finally got around to buying Yogi a belated birthday lunch,” recalls Alex. “My big pal’s birthday was on April 3 and we normally had a celebratory lunch on the day.

“For whatever reason, it had to be delayed a month, but we eventually caught up at the Burnside Hotel on the southside of the city. John’s wife Theresa and my missus Gerda were there and we had our usual table in the corner.

READ ALL ABOUT IT…author Alex Gordon and John Hughes celebrate the 2014 publication of the Celtic legend’s autobiography ‘Yogi Bare’.

“We had just finished our meal when this figure materialised at the table.

“‘Sorry to interrupt,’ said Frank McGarvey, ‘but do you mind if I join you for a couple of minutes?’

“‘Make yourself at home,’ we said.

“Frank settled in and said: ‘So, what’s this little meeting all about? Have I stumbled onto something?’

“‘It’s just Alex buying me lunch for my 79th birthday,’ replied Yogi, adding something like: ‘And about time, too.’

“We shared a drink or two before Frank looked at Yogi and asked: ‘What age are you now, Big Man? Are you 80 yet?’

“‘No, I’m still 79, ya numpty,’ smiled Yogi.

WE’LL SUPPORT YOU EVERMORE…Frank McGarvey makes an emotional speech to the Celtic fans at Parkhead before the 6-1 win over Hibs on October 15.

“I should point out that ‘numpty’ was a term of endearment from Yogi. We blethered on for about half-an-hour before Frank had to be elsewhere. ‘Business calls,’ he said and took off.

“‘Nice guy,’ said Yogi, ‘not sure about his powers of recollection, though.'”

Alex added: “It’s incredibly difficult to believe that both Yogi and Frank are not here today.

“I didn’t think about it at the time, but I was having a laugh and a joke with two players who scored over 300 goals for Celtic and I would have cheered on most of those strikes. I was eleven years old when I went to Celtic Park on a crisp, sunny afternoon of November 9 1963 to see my team in the flesh for the first time.

FAREWELL, YOGI…Celtic fans pay their tribute to John ‘Yogi’ Hughes before the 3-1 win over Ross County in Dingwall on August 6.

FAREWELL, FRANK…Celtic and Kilmarnock players line up to pay tribute to Frank McGarvey before the 2-0 win at Parkhead on January 7.

“Celtic won 5-3 against Partick Thistle. We were 2-0 up and went in at half-time trailing 3-2 before we netted three times in the second period. Big Yogi scored that day along with Stevie Chalmers, who hit a hat-trick, and Wee Jinky Johnstone.

“I was hooked. Yogi, in fact, was my father John’s favourite player. It’s a shame my dad never got to read John Hughes’ autobiography, ‘Yogi Bare: The Life and Times of a Celtic Legend‘, co-authored by his son.

“Sadly, my big pal passed away on August 1 and Frank died on January 1.

“Today is yet another day to hold onto cherished memories, my friends.”


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