Falkirk FC Club Historian, Michael White, paid tribute to Gordon:
Above all Gordon was a family man, intensely proud of all the McFarlane clan and the achievements of his wife and children. All of them knew that when the phone rang and someone asked for Gordon, it was another football-related matter, and they could forego any access to the landline for the next hour or so. Several episodes of family favourite soaps were interrupted by phone-calls.
There are followers, supporters, loyalists, fans and then stalwarts of football clubs. There is a tendency to designate some supporters as superfans or maybe even legends. None of these words adequately describe the contribution that Gordon McFarlane made to Falkirk Football Club. The man worked tirelessly to develop the media operations at his beloved club and many of us would receive a late-night phone call that invariably started with the words,” Sorry to bother you, pal, but…….”
As contributors to the Falkirk programme knew only too well Gordon was on the prowl – chasing up missing articles, asking for “fillers” after someone had let him down or seeking a picture to go with a historical article. No matter the lateness of the hour, you tried to do what you could, if for no other reason than you knew he needed your help. The respect everyone had for Gordon was immense, and we all knew that he would be sitting at the dining room table with anexternal hard drive plugged into his laptop, reference-books and back issues of the programme everywhere, as his long-suffering family tried to watch the TV despite the frenzied efforts of the programme editor to get another issue put to bed. The deadlines were always met, even if Gordon had to go through to Glasgow to the printers to make sure that everything was done to his usual high standards. When Falkirk’s programme was awarded the title of Programme of the Year, it was all down to the tireless efforts of Gordon McFarlane and the impressive team of volunteer contributors. While other clubs had professional contributors, designers and graphic artists, the Falkirk programme was very much home-made and more than stood comparison with any other in the country.
To say he was devoted to Falkirk Football Club was no understatement and he gave hours and hours of his time, often arriving home in the wee small hours, having driven back from the likes of Dingwall, Montrose or Dumfries having taken photos of a Reserve match or Development team game. Fans often judged a club by the quality of its communication, and under Gordon’s editorship the club programme was outstanding.
Gordon applied the same skills, determination and enthusiasm to his role as Media Officer and quickly established himself as a friend and confidante of players, managers and staff alike. Matchday media organisation was impeccable and he became a well-known and respected figure within the game in Scotland. He had great plans to develop the club’s media presence and was quite often frustrated at the lack of support from within the club. He had wanted to develop podcasts long before the idea was fashionable and from his professional working experience appreciated the power of the non-written media. Had he been better supported and resourced, the media aspect of the club’s presence would have been much improved at a much earlier stage.
Falkirk Football Club featured as one of Gordon’s three great passions. Another great passion in his life was Music, and he built up a fantastic knowledge of the music of the 70s and 80s from his time with Pickwick Records and Bruce’s Record Shops. When videos and DVDs became popular, he soon became the go-to guy for the latest releases, and he had a 12 year-plus career with Sony Pictures. Online retail was another addition to his professional career, but all the time the magnetic attraction of working for Falkirk Football Club was there. He organised the Denny supporters’ buses and was a leading member of the Falkirk Federation of Supporters Clubs. During the dark days of administration, it was inevitable that one of the leading lights in the volunteer army that became known as Back the Bairns would be Gordon. Always working tirelessly behind the scenes, he was the cement that held the group together, shunning the publicity and leaving the front-of-house roles to others, but gathering a team of talented supporters all willing to help rescue the club they all loved. Gordon’s role in Back the Bairns was immense and the successes of the big events like the Millennium Dinner were largely down to him.
There are some great pictorial memories of Gordon taken at moments of success at Hampden, celebrating with players and managers alike and beaming with pride. He also delighted in interviewing former players and I have one great picture of him with Tommy Murray from the 1957 team. He was totally at ease with the players and loved telling stories of his interviews, especially the parts he couldn’t print. I still grin at the story of his interview with the late Willie Whigham at ten o’clock on a dull and dreary morning in Airdrie. That was one that needed all of Gordon’s editorial skills.
When we heard that Gordon had suffered a massive stroke and that it was a matter of touch and go, everyone feared the worst. Gordon pulled through, but his health was seriously damaged. It is an indication of the respect and admiration for him that the fans and players rallied round to raise funds for the adaptations to his house to enable him to return home from hospital. Gordon’s family were intensely grateful for the assistance that was provided, both at the Breakfast in the Park Hotel and the Testimonial game against Swansea at The Falkirk Stadium.
Gordon was never the same again after that serious health set-back, but there were flashes of the old Gordon when the topic turned to football and he spoke fondly of the old times and bemoaned the slide down the leagues. He longed to be back at the club, producing more outstanding matchday programmes and launching new ventures, even although we all knew this could never happen. It was so sad to see him at games in a wheelchair, instead of him rushing around on matchdays ensuring that HIS club would be well thought of and HIS club would be one of the best.
There are Man of the Match awards, Player of the Season awards, Goal of the Season awards and Millennium Team awards, but for many of those who knew him and worked with him, there will only ever be one Mr. Falkirk and his name is Gordon McFarlane.
Rest in Peace Gordon and thanks for all you did for our football club. All our thoughts are with your family and your many, many friends.
We invite all Falkirk fans to join us in a minute’s applause for Gordon ahead of our match against Dunfermline Athletic on Saturday.