Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Saturday, 2nd June 2012
Date and Place of Birth
1st November 1960 - Liverpool
Transfers to and from Burnley
from Luton Town - 11th August 1994
released - 31st May 1996
First and Last Burnley Games
Middlesbrough (a) - 13th August 1994
replaced by Graham Lancashire
Shrewsbury Town (h) - 4th May 1996
sub: replaced David Eyres
Everton, Luton Town, Cardiff City (loan from Burnley)
Burnley Career Stats
|Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Others||Total|
Profile by Tony Scholes
I don't think Alan Harper was one of the most popular of Burnley signings after joining the club at the age of 33. He was recruited by Jimmy Mullen following the play off win against Stockport as he started to build a new squad for the higher division.
Harper is one of very few players who have played for both Everton and Liverpool. A Liverpool fan he started his career at Anfield. He signed from school and progressed through to become a full time professional, but despite being there for some seven years he never played in the first team.
Howard Kendall wanted to take him across Stanley Park but Liverpool boss Bob Paisley was very reluctant to do business with his local rivals and it was only when Harper was out of contract that Kendall was able to get his man, in fact signing two players from Liverpool in the summer of 1983 the other being Kevin Sheedy in similar circumstances.
He arrived at Goodison Park at just the right time with Everton spending the next few years winning a number of trophies including two league titles. Harper went straight into the side at right back but lost his place to Gary Stevens. From then he was never an automatic choice but would fill in when needed in various positions. The Everton fans called him Bertie Bassett because he could play in Allsorts of positions.
The 1986/87 proved to be his most successful on a personal level, as Everton lifted a second title in three years. He played in most of the games that season, but a year after, with the squad breaking up, he left Everton and signed for Sheffield Wednesday in a £275,000 move.
Although he played regular football during the next six years it was a somewhat nomadic time for him as he moved from club to club. After just a season and a half at Hillsborough he moved to Manchester City, now managed by Kendall, for £150,000 and became the regular right back.
When Kendall returned to Everton he signed Harper yet again. This time the fee was £200,000. He was a regular this time, until 1993 when he signed for Luton where again he was first choice. At Luton he played outside the top flight for the first time in his career. He was only with the Hatters for a year and that's when Mullen stepped in to bring him to Burnley.
He stepped into Jimmy's 'revolutionary' diamond formation, but for some reason the fans didn't take to him and he was often the target from the terraces. Overall I thought he did OK for us in the midfield and there's no doubt there were many far worse performers. He was a player who rarely gave the ball away.
Unfortunately he suffered an injury that ruled him out of the last third of the season, a season that ended in relegation. That injury didn't clear up and he missed most of the following season. He played just a handful of games and also had a short time with Cardiff on loan.
Back at Turf Moor from Cardiff he acted as temporary assistant boss to Clive Middlemass after Mullen's departure and when Adrian Heath returned to Burnley as manager he made just a couple of substitute appearances before hanging up his boots.
He'd been a Burnley player for two years but his Turf Moor career didn't end there. He joined the coaching staff at youth level working with Terry Pashley. He continued that role through the Chris Waddle season but was released by Stan Ternent in the summer of 1998 when he became manager.
That signalled a return to Goodison Park to work alongside Colin Harvey in the youth set up there. He remained with Everton for another seven years as part of their very successful academy before leaving in 2005.
He's still in football and he's still working with Harvey. Since 2007 he has been involved at Bolton Wanderers and now heads their European scouting alongside Harvey.
There's no doubt that the successes in his career came at Everton, both as a player and as a coach.