Frank Connor hailed ‘Celtic through and through’ as ​​Lou Macari pays tribute

Tributes have flooded in for former Celtic goalkeeper, coach and caretaker manager Frank Connor who passed away on Thursday aged 86.

Ex-Hoops boss Lou Macari described the Airdrie-born coach as a “Celtic man through and through” who helped steady the ship for his own arrival at Parkhead during a turbulent time.

After a three-year spell at the Hoops as assistant to David Hay, which brought Scottish Cup success in 1985 and the league title a year later, Connor took over as manager of Raith Rovers and led the Fifers to promotion back into the first division before moving on to assist Joe Jordan at Hearts.

He returned to Celtic Park as part of Liam Brady’s backroom team in 1993 taking on coaching duties and managing the reserve side.

When Brady was sacked in October of that year, Connor took the reins for a four-match unbeaten run that included a UEFA Cup victory over Sporting Lisbon and a 2-1 win over Rangers at Ibrox.

That Old Firm derby coincided with Macari’s first in charge although Connor is credited for having prepared and picked the side.

speaking to RecordSport, Macari said: “Frank was the man who was given the job of steadying the ship before I got to Celtic.

“That’s exactly what he did. When I arrived I found him to be a great assistance and someone you would always want involved in your club.

“I have loved Celtic. I have loved being involved. He was a great member of staff.

“He told me he just liked being involved at Celtic Park and that was great news for me.

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“Frank could be tough with the players when he needed to be. He would n’t shirk his responsibilities from him.

“It was all about the club with Frank, trying to get Celtic to a better position.

“I bumped into him a few years later after we both left the club. I hadn’t changed one bit.

“He was Celtic through and through. And a thoroughly decent man.”

As a goalkeeper, Connor made two first team appearances for Celtic after signing from Blantyre juniors. He went on to play for Portadown, St Mirren, Derry City, Albion Rovers and Cowdenbeath before moving into coaching.

Player-manager roles at those last two clubs prepared him for stepping up to full managerial duties with Berwick Rangers in 1980 before Connor moved to Motherwell as assistant to Jock Wallace in 1982.

Hay then snapped him up as a key member of his Celtic backroom staff a year later.

Frank Connor in 2003

Announcing his death on Thursday, Celtic said: “Everyone at Celtic is saddened to hear that former player and backroom Bhoy, Frank Connor has passed away at age 86.

“Frank wore his Celtic heart on his sleeve and he was bursting with pride when he joined his beloved Hoops as a 24-year-old goalkeeper from Blantyre Celtic in 1960.

“The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Celtic Park are with Frank’s family and friends at this sad time.”

Raith Rovers paid tribute in a statement which read: “We were saddened to learn of the passing of former Rovers manager Frank Connor.

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“Frank celebrated his 86th birthday last month and was residing in Croftbank House Nursing Home, Uddingston.

“After a short illness, Frank deteriorated overnight and passed away this morning. He is survived by his loving wife Margaret, seven children, several grandchildren and a great grandson.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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