"Joe was a gem - a man's man. He knew how to
treat players and
Joe Harvey saw it all happen in over 50 years in the game - the majority at St. James' Park. Cup incidents by the hatful....three successful finals, another as Runners-up, the embarrassment too as victim of the minnow. Promotion success, European glory, and relegation. Harvey was a devoted servant and few worked as hard for United's cause. He was a barnstorming skipper, an influential manager and later knowledgeable backstage aid. He was simply black`n`white through and through.
Joe Harvey was born in Edlington, a pit village near Doncaster. Being a Yorkshireman by birth he was blessed with that region's traditional grit. He started adult life as an apprentice machinist in the colliery brass foundry and played football for the local team, Edlington Rangers. A forward then, Joe had the chance to join Wolves in November 1936 when 16 years old. He jumped at the opportunity, but the Molineux club were not too impressed and within a year packed him off to Bournemouth, their nursery team. Harvey didn't last long on the south coast either, but he did find a good home with Bradford City. Following an unsuccessful trial with Hull City, he joined the Valley Parade set-up in the summer of 1938.
Harvey established himself as a reserve at Bradford before the outbreak of war and during the troubled years acted as a PT Instructor in the Royal Artillery, graduating to the rank of Company Sergeant Major. He played football whenever he could and guested for several clubs scattered around the country including Aberdeen, Hartlepool and Aldershot. Joe was also once stationed at Tynemouth Castle.
Newcastle United became interested in his ability during the autumn of 1945. Stan Seymour was on the look out for a half-back and Harvey was recommended. By this time he was a first team regular at Valley Parade, a versatile player too, turning out at inside-forward, centre-forward and even outside-right as well as his customary half-back position. He could find the net, being City's top scorer in 1943/44 with 17 goals - grabbing two against United. At 6'0" he showed little frills, but was full of determination. Although wanted by Middlesbrough too, Harvey signed for the Magpies at a Darlington public-house in October 1945. He cost United £4,250, money quickly repaid. Joe's first appearance in a black'n'white jersey was against Blackpool, 1 2-2 draw in the wartime Northern League. In the very next game he was appointed captain and went on to skipper the side more than any other player, leading United out for eight years.
Harvey was Stan Seymour's first big signing. United's director-manager went on to buld a marvellous side round Joe's tough and rugged defensive qualities. Now operating regularly at right -half, he was at his best when the contest was at its most fierce. Hating to lose, he always pushed to the limit and made sure his colleagues did the same. Harvey was a character in the camp, a formidable leader who always stood up to be counted, yet in days when football was very different, he often had a couple of pints of Guiness on a Saturday lunchtime before a game. And Joe always had a smoke at half-time too, like many of his team-mates!
Promotion and Wembley victories in 1951 and 1952 saw Joe Harvey become United's figurehead. His personality affected the whole club. Direct and honest, with a great sense of huour, he kept the players in check and if they slackened gave them a mighty growl. He was recognised at representative level, being picked for the Football League side on three occasions, skippering the team in 1951. It was one step from a full cap.
During the close season of 1953 when approaching 35 years of age, he became player-coach witnessing another FA Cup triumph in 1955 from the sidelines. Harvey then had a brief spell with Crook Town before trying management with struggling Barrow and Workington. He had nearly entered that sphere back in 1951, applting for the vacant Carlisle job, but Newcastle would not release him. Now the opportunity was there and Joe had a tough seven year managerial education at Borough Park and Holker Street. Arriving at Barrow for his first day as boss he found that he only had five players and his club missed having to apply for re-election only by goal average in 1955/56. Workington initially struggled too, but Harvey's influence gradually saw the Reds reach the promotion fringes.
He applied for the vacant Newcastle United job firstly in 1958, but lost out to Charlie Mitten. Joe though was soon to return to Gallowgate, but not until he almost quit the game to concentrate on a newsagency business he had opened in the west end of Newcastle. In the summer of 1962 he tried for the United post again and this time succeeded, initially on a twelve month trial. His stay in charge lasted all of 13 years!
Director Stan Seymour remarked to the press, "With Joe Harvey in charge of the players, we have laid the foundation for a fighting bid for a quick return to the top class". Joe revitalised his former club and put the Magpies back in Division One within three years. He went on to fashion United into an attractive side capable of winning trophies. He didn't flinch at paying big money for players and didn't waver when criticism was thrown the manager's way. Harvey preached entertaining football with stars who thrilled the fans. He once noted though, "You have got to have a mixture of big names and home grown talent. Finance necessitates that". Harvey always had both; Macdonald, Smith and Green the big buys; Moncur, Craig and Robson the juniors made good.
Harvey took United into Europe, to a Fairs Cup victory on his birthday and then onto an FA Cup final in 1974. His greatest ambition was to win at Wembley as a manager and the side's performance against Liverpool distressed him for years. Joe was never going to become the best manager in the game, but he was a dogged fighter and very much admired by the playersaround him. He left tactics largely to his coach and relied on inspiration to get the best out of his men. Malcolm Macdonald said, "He was more than a manager - he treated the Newcastle players like his sons", the centre-forward added, "Joe was a gem - a man's man. He knew how to treat players and get the best out of them". David Craig noted, "I would have walked through a brick wall for Joe".
At the end of the 1974/75 season he resigned after mounting pressure from supporters, frustrated that his side had nor reached the very top. A couple of years later those same fans were shouting for him to return after a dismal slump in results. Harvey remained in the backrooms of St.James' Park as assistant manager and chief scout and was awarded a merited testimonial in 1977. He took an active interest in the club to his last day.
Joe Harvey died suddenly of a heart attack in February 1989 when still in the payroll of Newcastle United. He was 70 years old and for 37 of those years had been serving the club. Joe, with his craggy and warm personality will still be part of Newcastle United for a long time to come yet.
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