Belfast Telegraph

Call for Derry City legend Mark Farren to be immortalised with Brandywell stand tribute

Book of condolence opens and Glenavon plan to mark footballer's passing

By Donna Deeney and Jonny Bell

Calls have been made for Derry City to immortalise legend Mark Farren with a permanent tribute to the player its Brandywell home.

Mark Farren's death was announced on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old died with his wife and family at his side.

His family described him as a "gentleman" who was "football crazy".

Following his passing, tributes have flowed for the legendary footballer who fought a brave battle against an aggressive brain tumour.

Ex-England international Gary Lineker led tributes on social media.

Derry City legend Liam Coyle has called for the Glentoran stand at the Brandywell to be named after the footballer who scored 114 goals in 209 appearances at the club during a nine-year spell.

The club have announced that the number 18 will be retired in honour of the player.

A book of condolence has been opened at the Brandywell stadium and Glenavon, who Farren also played for, are planning a tribute at the weekend's Irish Cup game against Glentoran.

Read more:

Mark Farren: A special player and a courageous man

Match Of The Day's Lineker leads tributes to footballer

A true gentleman of our game 

Farren, who lost a six-year battle with cancer, will be buried on Friday beside his three children - triplets who were born prematurely.

Mark's funeral service will be held in the church where he married wife Terri just a few years ago, St Mary's in Moville.

Terri's brother Shaun Holmes said she had been devastated by the former Derry City and Glenavon star's death, but will draw strength from the hundreds of tributes which have flooded in from across Ireland and beyond.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Holmes said: "This is such a sad time for us all, even though we could see Mark fading from us over the past weeks.

"Terri is in bits - we all are - but she is just devastated. She is an incredibly strong person and they were so strong together. It was amazing to see them, but this has hit her hard.

"They have not had it easy but they never lost faith, even when they lost their wee triplets.

"In the middle of Mark's illness the triplets - Terri, Marlie and Millie - were born in 2014, but they were premature, too premature, and they didn't make it.

"They are buried in the graveyard of St Mary's in Moville, the same chapel that Mark and Terri were married in and the same chapel where Mark's funeral will take place."

Mark was diagnosed with a brain tumour on Christmas Eve in 2008 when playing for Derry, where he was the record scorer.

Incredibly, after a sabbatical of just over a year for treatment, he was back on the pitch, with high hopes he would remain cancer free. Sadly this was not to be, and last year his condition had deteriorated to such an extent that radical treatment - only available in Mexico - was considered his only hope. Mark and Terri travelled to Central America thanks to a huge fundraising campaign, and returned home to Donegal at the end of the summer.

Mr Holmes said that while the family hoped and prayed for a miracle, Mark showed little sign of improvement.

He explained: "Mark was very weak when he came back from Mexico. He couldn't walk without a lot of assistance and his speech was badly affected. Last October he said to me and my dad that he really wanted to go and see the Republic of Ireland match (against Germany), so we made the preparations to go.

"But we were worried then that he wouldn't be fit enough for it.

"Since then he really deteriorated and by the time December came we knew he hadn't long.

"Over the past two weeks all of his closest friends came to see him and say their own goodbyes.

"The two families are really close and we were all with him at the end, and he just passed away so peacefully.

"He had battled so hard for six years, but he doesn't have to fight any more."

Mark's funeral will take place at St Mary's Church, Ballybrack, at 11am.

Belfast Telegraph


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