It’s hard to keep a good man down but former Derry City striker, Mark Farren, has re-written the meaning of the phrase.
Farren, (31), has just completed a six week bout of intensive preventative radiotherapy treatment for a second brain tumour.
It’s inevitable that many would think that Greencastle born Farren would hang up his boots and walk away from a successful playing career but not so.
Mark Farren is obsessed with football. Even during his recovery from his operation in December last year he had to be close to a television set and have his smartphone connected to the Internet just so that he could keep up to date with all that was happening in the world of football.
“When Mark was going for his treatment, Glenavon F.C. offered us a place to stay near the hospital but Mark wanted to be home every night where he had his Sky Sports News and an Internet connection,” joked Farren’s wife, Terri-Louise.
Farren overcame and recovered from a brain tumour back in 2009 and after retiring from football, he returned and went on to become Derry City’s top goal scorer of all time when he netted a hat-trick against Mervue United in the FAI Cup in the Brandywell.
Farren then moved to Irish League side, Glenavon F.C. where he maintained his top class goal scoring prowess with 10 goals in 15 appearances for the Lurgan Blues.
In August last year, Farren attended a routine check-up and after the results came back he was diagnosed with a grade two brain tumour for the second time.
“It’s a shock to the system that’s for sure. Myself and Terri have had some really tough moments over the last few months but we have to remain positive - what else can you do?”
Farren’s deal with Glenavon F.C. runs out at the end of the season and days after his operation, manager, Gary Hamilton visited Farren in hospital.
“My contract with Glenavon F.C. finishes this year but at the time we added on that there would be the option for me to sign on for another year at the end of the current deal.
“When Gary Hamilton visited me in hospital he was insisting he was going to offer me another contract no matter what,” laughed Farren.
“Although I haven’t hung up the boots just yet, it’s looking like my future in the game will be at a coaching level.
“It breaks my heart that I might never play football professionally again but the most important thing in your life is your health,” said Farren honestly.
Farren had only been with Glenavon F.C. a few months when he received the news he had a brain tumour.
“I can’t speak highly enough of everyone at Glenavon. The management, the directors, the players and the fans have all been really supportive.
“I only found out today [Thursday] that they had a collection for me at one of their games. I really appreciate all of their support.”
A few weeks ago one of Farren’s former Derry City team mates, Kevin McHugh organised a 5K road race to help raise money for Mark’s ongoing treatment.
“Myself and Kevin were never really, really close friends or anything like that at Derry City but we got on well.
“I was really taken aback when I heard what Kevin was doing and I was also delighted to see so many people taking part in the run too - it was a great day out and I was over the moon with all of the support.”
One high profile person to take part in the run in Donegal was former Derry City boss and current manager of Dundalk F.C., Stephen Kenny.
Farren played some of the best football of his career under Kenny when the two of them were at the Brandywell together but the two men remain close friends off the pitch.
“Stephen has been amazing,” said Farren.
“He is always calling me to see how I am and now that I have started studying for my FAI Coaching Badges, he has invited me to Dundalk F.C. to shadow him as a manager for a week.
“The Sligo Rovers manager, Ian Baraclough, has also said I can come down and shadow him anytime too.
“The support I’ve received from the likes of Glenavon, Kevin McHugh, Finn Harps, Stephen Kenny, Sligo Rovers, Peter Hutton, St. Patrick’s Athletic and even Cork City too has been amazing.
“It makes what is a very lonely and difficult experience that little bit easier to cope with,” said Farren.
Farren will be awarded his FAI C License in two weeks’ time and is hoping to complete the next stage of exams in July.
“I’ve started doing a bit of coaching with Kevin McHugh down in Letterkenny with some of the kids and that’s going well.
“I am enjoying studying for my badges and I hope to one day either be a successful coach or one better, a successful manager,” he said smiling.