Belfast Telegraph

Football mourns Sammy Pavis, a Linfield icon who scored 237 goals in just 260 games

Obituary

Linfield’s Sammy Pavis (left) challenges Terry Nicholson for the ball in 1968
Linfield’s Sammy Pavis (left) challenges Terry Nicholson for the ball in 1968

Goalscorers have always enjoyed legendary status in Irish League football dating back to the halcyon years of Linfield's Joe Bambrick and Glentoran's Fred Roberts.

Sammy Pavis, who sadly died yesterday in hospital after a short illness, enjoyed that iconic status when netting prolifically for Linfield in the 1960s.

Sammy was a unique individual in that he crossed the Lagan from his Ballymacarrett Glentoran home patch to Windsor Park with 'Big Two' rivals Linfield.

The 76-year-old was admitted to the Ulster Hospital on Tuesday and transferred to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital, where he sadly passed away.

Sammy Pavis pictured in 2016
Sammy Pavis pictured in 2016

Sammy's potential was spotted when he got a trial in England with Scunthorpe United. He was a youth international, and later a junior and amateur international.

He signed for Glentoran in the early 1960s, scored 54 goals in 74 games and won an Irish League medal. Sammy was proud to wear the green, red and black of Glentoran, but after a disagreement with the club's then manager Gibby MacKenzie, he was snapped up by Linfield.

The Blues secretary-manager at the time, the late Harry Wallace, said it was one of the best signings the club had ever made.

The straight-talking, wise-cracking Pavis, who was also the Northern Ireland snooker champion for a time after he retired from football, was affectionately known to the Linfield legions as "Sammy Save us", with the fans invariably looking to him for vital goals.

Last year he was inducted into the Linfield Hall of Fame, when legendary status was bestowed on him with the award of the prestigious Torrans Trophy.

Certainly, it was at Windsor Park that his star shone brightest. In 260 games for the Blues he scored 237 goals in five seasons. His incredible tally read: 1965-66 season 63; 1966-67, 58; 1967-68, 54; 1968-69, 32; 1969-70, 30.

Sammy Pavis
Sammy Pavis

"I had six great years at Linfield. I won every medal, including two Irish League and one Irish Cup," he recalled.

In 1967/68 he was fourth in the European 'Golden Boot' award, behind the great Eusebio of Benfica. He played 11 European games for Linfield, scoring four goals.

Linfield chairman Roy McGivern said Sammy was highly charismatic and contributed enormously to Linfield's success in the 1960s.

"Sammy played in a golden era for Irish League football and he is fondly remembered by our older supporters," said Roy. Billy Kennedy, a former Linfield vice-chairman, said: "Sammy was one of the most prolific marksmen in my 60 years watching Irish League football. He was a predator who always positioned himself around the 18-yard area and scored goals not in ones, but threes, fours and fives."

He is survived by wife Freda and sons Frederick and Sammy Jnr.

The funeral service for Mr Pavis will take place in Browns funeral parlour on the Newtownards Road, Belfast at 1.30pm and afterwards at Roselawn crematorium at 3pm on Tuesday July 9.

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