Glenavon to pay emotional tribute to Mark Farren at Irish Cup Final
Irish Cup Finals deliver the full range of emotions but the Glenavon squad will travel to Windsor Park under a cloud of sadness, ready to pay tribute to Mark Farren who tragically passed away at the age of 33 in February.
The former Derry City and Glenavon striker was loved and respected across the Irish football community and his brave battle against an aggressive brain tumour touched everyone.
Farren, Derry's record goalscorer, joined the Lurgan Blues in 2013 but was forced to quit the game.
The Donegal man fought his illness with determination and dignity and supporters will once again pay tribute in the 10th minute of the Irish Cup Final with a round of applause in memory of the special man and player who wore the number 10 jersey at Mourneview Park.
The Glenavon jerseys will also feature the number 10 above the club badge.
At the 2014 final, Mark led out the Glenavon team for the 2-1 win over Ballymena United. Two years on his widow, Terri-Louise, will travel with the Lurgan Blues side to the showpiece final at Windsor Park.
Farren's bravery, warm personality and talent will never be forgotten and Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton is delighted his family will be honoured on Saturday.
"The last time we were in the final it was the last game Mark was at from a professional point of view," said Hamilton.
"He led us out and, at that time, for me he was under contract and he'd just been given the news that the tumour had come back.
"He always talked to me about getting into coaching and that was what he was doing at the time.
"He was taking a couple of coaching schools and he wanted to get into the coaching and management side of things and when the tumour came back I thought it was a great opportunity for him to experience leading the team out in a coach's or manager's role.
"Unfortunately he passed away this year and this time Terri-Louise is going to come down and lead the boys out as a tribute to him.
"The last time he was involved with us was the Irish Cup final so we thought it would be nice for her to lead the players out.
"She'll come down on the team bus and we thought it would be nice for her to be part of it."
Derry City have retired the number 18 shirt in his honour and the new stand at the Brandywell Stadium will be named after him.
Mark became Derry's all time top goal scorer when he surpassed Liam Coyle's record of 112 goals in September 2012.
And Hamilton knows even his successful Glenavon side could have achieved so much more with Farren leading the line.
In fact, the former Northern Ireland international rates Farren as the best finisher he's had the peasure to watch.
"Mark will go down in the history of our club," added Hamilton. "He was with us for just a short period of time, but he scored a great number of goals and if we'd had Mark Farren in the team this season we'd have challenged for the league, because nobody could score goals like that man.
"He was frightening and it's just unfortunate that we never managed to get a full season out of him due to his unfortunate circumstances, but he was the best I've seen - and I include David Healy in that."
Tennent's Irish Cup Final:
Windsor Park, Saturday 2.30pm