Experienced and versatile full back Steve Harper joined the Tigers in July 1999 as Warren Joyce began assembling a squad that would take City up the League Division 3 table following the Great Escape heroics of the previous season. Harper slotted straight into the first team and played on both sides of defence, although he often appeared more comfortable playing on the right. He scored his first goal for City at Rochdale in November 1999, cutting in to convert a shot after a trademark marauding run down the flank. A month later Harper scored an unlikely hattrick at home to Exeter in a 4-0 victory that comprised deflected shots and unlikely tap-ins. That pinnacle drew a close to Steve’s goalscoring exploits in black and amber.
Harper dropped out of the side with injury in March 2000 and by the time he returned at the start of 2000/01 season Warren Joyce had been replaced by Brian Little. Harper was still a regular choice at left back but his form appeared to dip, and when financial collapse came in the early weeks of 2001 Harper was one of a number of players to seek termination of his contract and move on.
Steven James Harper was born and raised in the Staffordshire Potteries and joined his local club Port Vale as a teenager. He made his first team debut as a left winger in August 1987, a 4-2 defeat of Aldershot on the first day of the 1987/88 season. He drifted out of the first team as the season progressed and was a peripheral figure the following season as the Valiants successfully challenged for promotion to the second tier. Midway through the season Harper moved to Preston North End and after finding his feet he was a regular first team starter for two seasons at Deepdale, playing alongside future City manager Warren Joyce – indeed in 1989/90 Joyce and Harper were Preston’s top two league goalscorers with 11 and 10 strikes respectively. In 1991 Harper moved to Burnley where he was a regular for two seasons as the Clarets won the Division Four title in 1992. In the 1993 close season Harper was on the move to Doncaster Rovers, where he continued to play in wide attacking roles and occasionally centre forward for two seasons. Early in the 1995/96 season Steve moved to Mansfield Town for a £20,000 fee, he spent a season playing up front for the Stags before converting to a pacey full back during 1997. Harper had four seasons at Field Mill and was an ever present for all but one league match in two years prior to switching to the Tigers.
Harper joined Darlington in February 2001 along with two other City players that chose to leave as the Tigers entered a period of financial turmoil. He spent a season and a half at Feethams before returning to Staffordshire, dropping down into the non-league scene and retiring in 2003. He ended his fifteen year playing career with nearly 600 senior appearances and 61 goals. Harper then worked as a coach at Stoke City’s academy for several years and joined the coaching staff at Chasetown FC in 2017.
Date/Place of Birth: 3 February 1969, Newcastle-under-Lyme
Hull City First Game: 7 August 1999, Exeter City A (League Division 3), 30 years, 185 days old
Hull City Final Game: 10 February 2001, Leyton Orient H (League Division 3), 32 years, 7 days old
Port Vale (1985-1989), Preston North End (1989-1991), Burnley (1991-1993), Doncaster Rovers (1993-1996), Mansfield Town (1996-1999), Hull City (1999-2001), Darlington (2001-2002), Kidsgrove Athletic (2002-2003), Newcastle Town (2003)
Hull City Record
Career: 80 apps, 4 goalsSteve Harper
|1999/00||36 (2)||4||5 (0)||0||4 (0)||0||-||-||2 (0)||0|
|2000/01||27 (0)||0||2 (0)||0||1 (0)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0|