Long serving Newcastle United goalkeeper, Steve Harper, is set for the St James’ Park exit doors if rumours from the journalists are to be believed.
Local hacks such as Mark Douglas and Lee Ryder seem to suggest that Harper is on the verge of joining Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion on a temporary one month loan deal.
To me it’s one of the more believable rumours as I’m fairly certain that Steve Harper will want to be playing football in the twilight of his career, especially when you consider that he has spent many years sat on the bench at NUFC. Whether or not there is any truth in this remains to be seen however and hopefully we’ll hear something definitive either way later on today.
You have to feel for Harper. The guy has been with us for 18 years having signed on as a starry eyed 18-year-old from Seaham Red Star and has had to play second, and sometimes third, fiddle behind a string of top goalkeepers who have graced the goalframes of St James’ Park. First there was Srnicek, then Hislop, then Given that he had to wait behind before finally getting a sustained run of games in goal in our relegation season.
In truth he never let us down when called upon and it was mainly other factors that came into play when it came to relegation. Put simply, I can’t remember Harper putting a foot wrong. That theme continued the next season when he took over the No1 jersey for our Championship winning campaign before retaining it in our return to the Premier League.
A shoulder injury against Everton last season opened the door for Tim Krul and the Dutchman has never looked back leaving Harper yet again playing second fiddle, or third fiddle if you include new boy Rob Elliot in the equation.
Personally I’d much prefer to have Harper as the backup goalkeeper. If it was a straight shootout between bringing him or Elliot off the bench it would be Harper everytime. While I’d be happy with that I very much doubt Harper will be which is part of the reason for him seemingly heading out on loan. In short, he wants to be playing games.
Some will say that Harper has lacked ambition throughout his career as he has been happy to sit on the bench, but to me he has been a great servant, a consummate professional who has rarely kicked up a fuss and has done a job when called upon. Can you really ask for any more than that?
If it is true it’s worth remembering that it’s not the end for Steve Harper at Newcastle and that it’s only supposed to be for a month so he can get some match sharpness. He’ll be back, in much the same way he returned from loan spells at Bradford, Huddersfield, Gateshead, Stockport and Hartlepool earlier on in his career.
First things first though, let’s see if the rumour has any substance to it!