Linfieldfc.com was pleased to catch up with former striker Graham Harvey this week. Followers of Linfield in the early nineties will undoubtedly remember the Scotsman for a positive loan spell in the second half of the 1992/93 title-winning campaign. The Blues had just been knocked out of the Irish Cup the week before Harvey was signed and Linfield were in a tough title battle with Crusaders, and the arrival of Harvey was both timely and effective.
Linfield were getting a proven striker who had scored everywhere he’d been in Scotland; namely for Hibernian, Dundee and Airdrie – all top flight Clubs. Graham was born on 23 April 1961 in Musselborough.
However, Graham had started to find game time limited at Airdrie, who were fighting for survival in the Scottish Premiership at the time. Being out of favour with manager Alex MacDonald meant the striker could get away to play football again when Trevor Anderson came calling in March 1993, as he recollects.
“I was out of favour at Airdrie FC and the manager was keen to loan me out, so when the Linfield move came about, I was excited and keen to get back playing on a Saturday again. I knew a few Scottish players in the Irish League at the time and they were singing its praises.”
The then 31 year-old’s Linfield career couldn’t have got off to a better start, as he scored a hat-trick in the Blues’ 5-2 win over Larne at Windsor Park. (March 20, 1993) A week later he scored again, in a 2-0 win over Ards, and two weeks after that, (April 13) he scored in a 3-1 win over Ballyclare Comrades.
“It was a great feeling for me to score a hat-trick on my debut, flying back home on the Saturday night with the match ball! On my debut I a Larne defender joked with me after my third goal that I’d be going home in a body bag if I scored again! I scored against Ards the following week and then again in a match against Ballyclare. David Jeffrey, who was a centre half for Ards at the time, was quoted in the paper the night before the match saying he’d kick lumps out of me and that I wouldn’t score.
“I found the Irish League just what I expected it to be – hard, physical, but fair. Linfield were a big Club and to play at Windsor Park and wear the Linfield shirt was a privilege. I only met up with the team on match days as I trained with Airdrie Reserves.”
Harvey and Linfield effectively clinched the title in the penultimate match of the season with a 2-1 win over Glentoran at The Oval which is a fond memory for the Musselborough native. Challengers Crusaders were held by Ards, meaning goals from Ritchie Johnston and Glenn Hunter had secured the title. Although Linfield lost 3-0 to Portadown on the final day, their goal difference was so superior that everyone knew the title was heading to Windsor.
“The derby fixture against Glentoran was a blast! Noisy Glentoran fans were battering the door at The Oval in an attempt to intimidate us, but we won 2-1 to clinch the title. That was a great experience. I was presented with a league winners’ medal, but I gave it to one of the other local Linfield players who hadn’t featured towards the end of the season.”
After the expiry of Harvey’s Linfield loan, he departed Airdrie and headed to Hong Kong where he played for Instant-Dict FC until returning to his native Scotland where he produced the goods for Livingston.
“I then went to Hong Kong for two years. I found it to be a great lifestyle over there, as well as excellent money and a more relaxed way of football. After that I returned to Scotland where I played for Livingston for 3 seasons. We got promoted twice in those 3 seasons and I scored 36 goals which was a good way to end my senior playing career. We won the Second Division, then were runners up in the First Division but won it the following year.”
“I then played and managed Bonnyrigg Rose FC on and off for eight years before fully retiring. Now I work for Royal Mail but still play a bit with Hibs Legends and get invited to former clubs, Hibernian, Dundee, Airdrie and Livingston for match day hospitality.”
The defeat to Portadown on April 24, the final day of the season was the only match of Harvey’s six appearances that he wasn’t victorious in, playing in wins over Larne (5-2), Ards (2-0), Omagh (1-0 on April 10) Ballyclare (3-1) and Glentoran (2-1 on April 17).
Six appearances, five goals, five crucial wins and a league champion – not a bad loan spell! Many thanks to Graham for sharing his memories.