Maxie had love for the game

John 'Maxie' McAvoy with wife Anna
John 'Maxie' McAvoy with wife Anna

A stalwart of boys’ football in the Viewpark area has died at the age 76 following a short illness.

John McAvoy grew up in Mossend and it was while playing for Mossend Boys’ Guild he would be given his life-long nickname ‘Maxie’, after a Brazilian footballer of the post-war era.

Maxie worked as a steelworker at Stewart and Lloyds and also as a gravedigger at Bothwellpark Cemetery.

But football was his real passion and he achieved great success as a coach with St Columba’s Boys’ Club and St Columba’s school team winning numerous trophies. His most famous charge being former Dundee and Motherwell defender Rab Shannon.

In the 1990s he joined his boyhood team as a coach moving to Celtic Boys’ Club. Then in latter years he was also a popular figure at Hamilton Accies, Norwich City and Preston North End as his son Frankie made his name as a coach in the senior game.

Maxie also loved ‘the horses’ and was a frequent visitor to William Hill in Viewpark.

His funeral at St Columba’s Church, Viewpark, on Thursday was attended by around 600 people.

Among those attending was former Celtic and Motherwell defender Stephen McManus, Preston manager Alex Neil, Hamilton Accies boss Martin Canning and former Motherwell chief scout Bobby Jenks.

Maxie leaves his wife of 57 years, Anna, their four children, Patricia, Annmarie, Frankie and Martin, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.