It is with great sadness that I have to write, that last week saw the death of former Derry City player Mark Farren aged only 33. Mark had been unwell for some time and unfortunately passed away after a great battle to try and beat his illness.
Mark Farren, 33, will forever be remembered as one of the best strikers ever to have played in the League of Ireland and will sadly be missed by everyone involved in the game. The native of Donegal had spent time in England with Tranmere Rovers and Huddersfield Town as a youngster, but made his name in Ireland at Derry City after spells at Finn Harps and Monaghan United. When Mark joined Derry City he could not have dreamed that one day he would become the all time record goal scorer for the club.
Many a tribute has been paid to Mark Farren over the past week, from presidents to your average football fan from all around the country. Mark was a member of the Derry City side that won the FAI Cup in 2006 and again in 2012. He was also a member of the Derry squad that won the First Division title in 2010. If you add to those trophies and five league cup victories you can see how important a player he was for the team from the Brandywell. Mark was inducted into the FAI Hall of Fame in 2014 and was also voted PFAI player of the year in 2005. Mark finished his playing career in Northern Ireland with Glenavon FC, so his career spanned across the whole Island of Ireland.
FAI CEO John Delaney paid tribute to Mark Farren and also passed on his condolences to the Farren family. He said in his tribute " Mark's sad passing is a devastating blow to everyone in Irish football. He was not only a tremendous talent, but a real gentleman, who was widely respected in the League and very popular with his team-mates throughout his years in the game."
SSE Airtricity League Director Fran Gavin said " We are deeply saddened to hear of Mark,s passing. We were well aware of his battles in recent years. I met Mark and his wife Terri-Louise at the play off last November which was the last time I saw him. It is just so sad that somebody so young has passed away. We will all remember him for his football genius and his great goals."
Eamon Naughton, Chairman of the SSE Airtricity Committee, added. " Mark will be very sadly missed as a player and a very nice person. We are all thinking of his family and friends at this terribly sad time."
For myself I will always remember as one of the greatest players ever to have graced a football pitch in Ireland and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. When Derry City are redeveloping their ground a fitting tribute to Mark would be to have his name on some part of the stadium. Thank you for the football memories Mark, it was an absolute pleasure to see your genius on a pitch. RIP