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Joe Harper: Gold-Star Striker

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Joe Harper: Gold-Star Striker

As was customary; the Monday evening training-session concluded with the centre-spot challenge.

Mindful of their surroundings, the youngsters (in-turn), attempted a dead-ball-strike with tunnel-head as target.

All-but-one were errant – his humility profound.

Within forty-eight hours; Bob Paisley’s Liverpool would occupy the same hallowed turf, as their 1975/76 European Campaign got underway.

The UEFA Cup first round 1st leg tie (Wednesday 17 September 1975), would prove significant on a number of levels.

Opponents Hibernian were a club in transition. A section of the fan-base had called into question the acumen of manager Eddie Turnbull – who had overseen a period of unqualified success in the early 1970’s. Controversy surrounded his acquisition of Striker Joe Harper from Everton (circa January 1974).

Viewed as a catalyst for the departure of Jim O’Rourke and Alan Gordon, the deceptively sharp Harper, pounced on a fizzed delivery from Arthur Duncan (in the 19th minute), to settle the tie in Hibernian’s favour.

Marshalled with aplomb by the balletic Pat Stanton, the ‘Hibees’ exposed countless deficiencies within the Liverpool back-line. Indeed Bob Paisley’s much-fancied side were fortunate to escape with a single-goal deficit; requiring a spot-kick save by England International Ray Clemence (from John Brownlie), late-on.

In his former role (as Aberdeen manager in the late 1960’s), Eddie Turnbull was instrumental in signing Joe Harper from home-town club Greenock Morton. Their symbiotic relationship yielded Scottish Cup glory in 1970 (v Celtic). And in season 1971/72, Joe Harper bagged an incredible 33 League goals from 34 appearances – earning him the European ‘Bronze-Boot’.

The legendary Gerd Muller securing its ‘gold’ equivalent.

As for Liverpool: a 3-1 second-leg success preceded Aggregate victories over ; Real Sociedad (9-1), Slask Wroclaw (5-1), Dynamo Dresden (2-1), Barcelona (2-1), and Club Brugge (4-3), in a two-leg Final, to secure the 1975/76 Uefa Cup.

Their solitary defeat courtesy of Hibernian in Round 1.

And to the talented youngster who hit the target on Monday 15 September 1975 – thanks for the memory.

 

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Born in 1963, Peter attended St Mary's Leith High School. Peter worked within the plumbing industry before studying a degree in journalism within the University of Stirling. Peter has been a lifelong sports fan and has volunteered within the Edinburgh Soccer School's programme on numerous occasions.

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