Family, friends and former teammates of John Frain will gather at St Benedicts Mens Club in Ealing on Saturday to remember one of Garryowen and London GAA’s “true gentlemen”.
John played for Garryowen for more than 20 years, as well as serving the club as president and chairperson, winning championships at senior, intermediate and junior.
He also captained the London county team in 1973.
He went on to enjoy success as a coach and manager at minor level, including taking the London minor team to Croke Park to complete in the All-Ireland.
John, who suffered a long battle with Alzheimers, passed away on 8 May at the age of 75 several weeks after a nasty fall at his home in Castlelyons in Cork.
He was buried next to his late wife Mary in Rathcormac, Cork.
After the funeral, which was attended by friends and family from all over Ireland and England who wanted to pay their respects to the “great man” and exchange “fond memories”, the idea of an event in London to commemorate John’s life was put to his son, Andy.
“Paul Ryan and Ian O`Sullivan suggested that there were many people who were not able to travel to Ireland for the funeral, but would love to celebrate Dad`s life with a memorial day in his honour,” explained Andy.
“We would love to see as many people as possible so we can to make this a special day to remember.”
From Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, John moved to England in the late 1950s, initially settling in Shepherds Bush with his brother Mick.
It was a fellow Ballaghaderreen man, Vince Golden, who soon got John involved with the Garryowen GAA club in 1963. It would prove a wise decision.
During his 20 years and more representing Garryowen, John won a London senior football championship title in 1969, when Garryowen they beat Parnells by 2-7 to 0-11 in the final.
The senior title was won again in 1972, to add to junior (1963 and 1964) and intermediate (1965 and 1966) championships, as well as a host of cups and leagues during a hugely successful period in the club’s history (60s and 70s).
However, the most significant win of all was the Great Britain Championship in 1970.
John hung up his boots in 1980 after starring in Garryowen’s 1-12 to 1-8 victory over Parnells in the senior football championship final. John, who lined out at corner back that day and was one of only three survivors from the ’72 championship win, was named Man of the Match.
It was the last senior football title won by the club.
But retirement only served to open the door into management and coaching. He immediately formed a Garryowen U14 side and they went on to win numerous championship and league titles between 1980-1984.
His success with Garryowen saw him appointed London Minors manager in 1983, and the same year the team won the British championship before going on to the All-Ireland in Ennis, Co Clare.
By his own admission, “his greatest achievement” was to come the following year, when London, after retaining the British title, went on to another All-Ireland at Croke Park in Dublin. In 1987, he toured New York with London.
Former Garryowen teammate, Stephen O’Malley, who was goalkeeper in the 1980 senior championship winning team, said: “John was a real Garryowen man – there’s no doubt about that. It was an honour to play with him.
“I worked with him and I played with him, and he was a great sportsman. We used to train up at the Scrubs and he never missed training.
“He’d be running around houses and flats to collect lads to bring them to New Eltham for the team. He’d go here there and everywhere.”
John Frain Memorial Day
Saturday 18th August
St Benedicts Mens Club, Eaton Rise, Ealing. 3pm start.