The football community in the north-east has paid tribute to a well-known manager and “devoted” family man who lost his battle with cancer.
A minute’s silence was due to be held at junior and amateur games across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire today after the passing of Gary Forbes, 55.
The dad-of-three from Cornhill, Aberdeen, had battled gastric cancer after being diagnosed 18 months ago.
Gary, who was also a scout for Celtic FC, was given the all-clear back in December, but was told seven weeks ago his cancer had returned and fought bravely until the end.
Gary, who was dad to Nina, 30, Tessa, 27, and Gary Junior, 26, was married for 33 years.
His wife Julie said: “For the last eight months he led his life to the full, but unfortunately, seven weeks ago, we were told the cancer was back and it was very rapid.
“He was a very devoted family man. Outside the football side of things, he lived for his family. He always put us first.
“We took lots of family holidays. Every year we went to Blackpool because it was his favourite place. For the last 30 years it was our holiday.”
Julie added: “It is really touching to hear there will be a minute’s silence at football games for him.
“It’s been overwhelming the outpouring of support. It has been unbelievable with lots of flowers and cards.
“I knew Gary was well-liked and involved in football but I never realised how much until now. It has been incredible.”
Over his footballing years, he managed Hilton, Ellon United, Banks o’Dee and Glentanar.
Gary formed Hilton Football Club in 1989, and the team won every league available, starting in the seventh division before working their way up to division one.
Colin Shirreffs, 40, who was managed by Gary for more than 10 years at Hilton and Glentanar, said: “He was a very good friend and that’s what he was to a lot of players. You could go to Gary with any problem.
“He was such a likeable guy and that’s what made you want to play for him.
“He was an absolute legend of a man. I would call him a friend before a football manager.”
Following an appeal on social media by Colin for a minute’s silence at amateur games, he was blown away by the response.
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Gary’s brother Gerry, thanking people for the kind messages, said he formed a bond with the players he managed. He added his brother was also known throughout the Aberdeen and Scottish pool community, having captained the Murdo’s team.
He said: “He got into his pool about six years ago and Gary took the pool team at Murdo’s and had the best players in Aberdeen playing there.
“I’ve also had former football players of his get in touch who are now in Hong Kong and Australia. It is heartwarming for the family to see how well he was regarded.”
A celebration of Gary’s life will take place on Thursday at 2.45pm at Aberdeen crematorium with black clothes optional and football tops wanted.