This season, at the end of his 20 years at St. James’s Park, Steve Harper will leave Newcastle Utd. He has gone out on loan a few times, but has seldom been better than a back-up keeper for the Magpies. He was, in the late 90s, at Huddersfield and was one of the best keepers I’ve ever seen in a Town shirt. However, he never seemed to push on to become first choice and has quite possibly warmed the bench more than anyone else in Premier League history (and, indeed, Football League history, given the not-too-long history of substitutes).
Despite all that, I’ve taken figures on the assumption Harper plays against Arsenal next week, and here’s the numbers. He’s played 78% of his 258 games for Newcastle, and his season by season breakdown looks a little bit like this – Toon in the black.
So Super Stevie Harper moves on, then, to pastures new. He’s played in 20% of the league games Newcastle have had since he joined (157/768) which remains a relatively small amount for a 38-year-old footballer and, presumably, he’s moving on from Newcastle to be either first choice somewhere else for a couple of seasons, or to be unquestionable second choice for a bit longer. It all seems a bit of a shame, to be honest.