Feature by Tony Scholes
Updated Wednesday, 16th January 2013
Date and Place of Birth
3rd February 1969 - NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME
Transfers to and from Burnley
from PRESTON NORTH END - 23rd July 1991
to DONCASTER ROVERS - 7th August 1993
First and last Burnley Games
ROTHERHAM UNITED (a) - 17th August 1991
replaced by Jason Hardy
STOKE CITY (a) - 8th May 1993
PORT VALE, PRESTON NORTH END
DONCASTER ROVERS, MANSFIELD TOWN, HULL CITY, DARLINGTON
Burnley Career Stats
|Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Others||Total|
Profile by Tony Scholes
Steve Harper became one of Burnley's summer signings of 1991 as manager Frank Casper set about building a squad to get the club out of the Fourth Division. We'd missed out in the play offs to Torquay and Harper was one of three signings in the pre-season along with Mike Conroy and Steve Davis from Reading and Southampton respectively.
Harper arrived on a free transfer from Preston North End as Burnley took advantage of the poor financial position at Deepdale. He'd just ended an outstanding season at Preston and their fans were stunned to learn he had joined Burnley on a free transfer.
They weren't the only ones stunned by the news. Preston manager Les Chapman was too and told Burnley Express reporter Jimmy McIlroy: "He has loads of ability and pace, a great combination, and I still think he can go a long way in the game.
"I have my directors telling me to reduce the way bill, so some players have to go. Unfortunately, the players I would give free transfers to are still on contract for at least another season, so to get the directors off my back I had to let Steve go."
Harper had started his career with local club Port Vale who he joined after leaving school. He signed his first professional deal in the summer of 1987 at the age of 18 and quickly won a place in the first team.
He was in and out of the team and was out of favour in March 1989 as Vale were heading for promotion via the play offs and that brought about his move to Deepdale. In just over two years at Preston he established himself as a crowd favourite with his pace down the flanks and yet, despite being a division higher than Burnley, they weren't able to prevent his move to Turf Moor.
He went straight into Casper's team and was a key member of the promotion side under Jimmy Mullen in what was his first season at Burnley. His debut came on the opening day of that season and he played a vital part in the promotion although I'd say his best performance and goal for Burnley were removed from the records.
That was in the 2-1 win at Aldershot in December 1991. He was, undoubtedly, our best player that day and scored a stunning goal to break the deadlock.
He played in all but seven of our games that season but he never proved to be as popular with the Burnley fans as he'd been at Preston. Whilst John Francis on the other flank was a big favourite with the Turf Moor crowd it was something Harper was never able to attain.
Following promotion he again played in the bulk of the games, this despite Mullen bringing in a string of wingers on loan. Brian Mooney, Louie Donowa and Steve Slawson all came and went and by the end of the season Harper had established himself back in the team.
However, he was now considered surplus to requirements as Mullen set about making changes to his squad. We'd had a good first season after promotion but the manager wanted Blackpool's David Eyres on the left wing and got him.
Harper was one of a number of players who left and one of three, alongside Ian Measham and Mark Yates, who moved to Doncaster Rovers.
It was by no means the end of his career. He went on to play for another nine years and was a regular first team player at four more clubs during that period.
Two years at Doncaster were followed by four at Mansfield. That took him to the summer of 1999 when he then joined Hull where he enjoyed a season and a half before signing for Darlington where his league playing career came to an end in the summer of 2002.
By then he'd reached 500 league appearances, in which he'd scored 54 goals. With cup games he was not far short of 600 games.
Steve Harper is perhaps the least remembered of our 1991/92 Championship team but he played a big part in that promotion with some outstanding displays on the left wing.