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hall of fame Joe Harper
Joe Harper Idolised by the supporters and berated by opponents any player who scores goals on a regular basis will invariably come in for his fair share of stick. Not many would have thought when Eddie Turnbull splashed out a club record 40,000 to take a small, stocky forward from Morton to Pittodrie in October 1969 that it was the beginning of a love affair that would last for more than a decade. If you ask any Aberdeen fan over 40 years of age who their favourite Dons player was, then Joe Harper would invariably collect that accolade. Almost immediately after joining Aberdeen the goals began to flow and in the final analysis some 12 years later Joe Harper, in two spells with the Dons, became the highest scorer in the history of the club. For years it was a common belief that Joe had scored 199 goals for the Dons until the authorities sanctioned an increase to 205 courtesy of his Drybrough Cup strikes.

Joe had already tried his luck in England with Huddersfield before returning to Scotland and it was an astute Eddie Turnbull that liked what he saw in Harper. Originally Joe started out as a winger but Turnbull changed that when Joe, never blessed with lightning pace had a keen eye for goal. It was after he moved in to a central role that Harper, and Aberdeen took off. In April 1970, before a crowd in excess of 108,000 at Hampden, Joe set Aberdeen on their way to a famous Scottish Cup win against the mighty Celtic. It took more than five minutes of mayhem and protest before a penalty award could be taken and it was Joe who was the one player who kept his cool as he ignored all of the taunts from the Celtic players and waited until the referee had dealt with the wave of Celtic protests. Joe even had the audacity to start playing 'keepy-up' with the ball before being able to take the kick. Derek 'cup-tie' McKay weighed in with two further goals to make sure the cup would come to Pittodrie.

It was from that position of strength that Aberdeen went on to maintain a league challenge a year later and Joe Harper was a vital player for the Dons with a barrow load of goals. In December 1972 that changed when one freezing winters day it was announced that Joe had been sold to Everton in a club record deal. Prior to that Joe had won the 'Bronze Boot' for being one of the top scorers in European football and a first international cap against Denmark on 18th October 1972. The fact that Joe only managed to get four caps during his career remains a mystery. Joe had spells with Everton and Hibernian in the 70's before returning to Pittodrie in April 1976. His return was hailed in almost messiah like proportions. The Dons were struggling to avoid relegation from the first Premier League campaign but Joe could not play until the following season. Fortunately the Dons held on and when Joe returned it was just like the good old days as within months the League Cup came north after a fine win over Celtic at Hampden in 1976. Joe was still around by the time that Aberdeen won the league title in 1980 and it was serious knee injury sustained in a League Cup-tie at Celtic Park that effectively ended a glorious career.

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