Val Harris

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James Harris
Personal information
Full name Valentine Harris
Date of birth 13 June 1884
Place of birth Ringsend, Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Playing position Midfielder / Forward / Defender
Youth career
1898 Pembroke
1899 Emeralds
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1900 Isles of the Sea (Gaelic football)
1901 Dublin GAA (Gaelic football)
1903–08 Shelbourne
1908–1914 Everton 190 (1)
1914–1927 Shelbourne
National team
1906–1914 Ireland 20 (0)
1904–1906 Irish League XI 4 (0)
1925–1926 League of Ireland XI 2 (0)
Teams managed
193x-193x Irish Free State
193x-19xx Shelbourne
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Valentine Harris (Irish: Vailintín Ó hEarchaí, born 23 June 1884, Ringsend, Dublin, Republic of Ireland), commonly referred to as Val Harris, was an Irish footballer who played Gaelic football for Dublin and soccer for, among others Shelbourne, Everton and Ireland. Harris was regarded as one of the finest soccer players of his generation and in 1906 became the first Shelbourne player capped by Ireland. He still remains the club's most capped player. In 1913 he captained the first Ireland team to beat England and in 1914 he was a member of the Ireland team that won the British Home Championship. Harris has been described as an extremely hard player in the mode of Kevin Moran or Paul McGrath and like his Shelbourne, Everton and Ireland team mate, Bill Lacey, he was also very versatile, covering just about every outfield position during his career.

Playing career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Harris initially played soccer with junior clubs Pembroke and Emeralds and in 1898 helped Pembroke reach the final of the Leinster Junior Cup. He was also an accomplished Gaelic footballer during his teens and won honours at club level with Ringsend GAA team Isles of the Sea. In 1901 he also won an All- Ireland medal with Dublin. Harris is one of several prominent Dublin gaelic footballers who successfully switched codes to soccer. Others have included Jack Kirwan, Con Martin and Kevin Moran.

Shelbourne[edit]

In 1903 Harris made his debut for Shelbourne in the Leinster Senior League. In May 1904 he had a trial with West Bromwich Albion but then returned to Shelbourne and made his Irish League debut in a 3–1 defeat to Glentoran on 17 September 1904 at Serpentine Avenue, Dublin. Harris went onto play in four consecutive Irish Cup finals and in the 1906 final was captain when Shelbourne beat Belfast Celtic 2–0 at Dalymount Park, becoming the first Dublin side to lift the trophy. His team mates during this era included, among others, Joseph Ledwidge and Bill Lacey.

After four years at Everton, Harris returned to Shelbourne in August 1914. In 1920 Harris won the Irish Cup for a second time after both Belfast Celtic and Glentoran were expelled. In 1921 Shelbourne became founder members of the League of Ireland and in 1926 the club won the title. Harris remained a prominent member of the Shelbourne team well passed his fortieth birthday and his second spell at the club saw him play alongside Bill Lacey, Bob Fullam, Ed Brookes and Louis Bookman. During his two spells with Shelbourne, Harris made 71 Irish League appearances, scoring 13 goals, 89 League of Ireland appearances, scoring 6 goals, and a further 36 games and 12 goals in the Irish Cup.

Everton[edit]

In March 1908 Harris moved to Everton for £350, the maximum amount allowed at the time. He made his debut for Everton against Woolwich Arsenal and quickly established himself as the team's regular right-half. During his time at Everton he was noted for his consistency and effectiveness and played in six different positions. With Harris in the team, Everton regularly challenged for top honours, twice finishing as League runners-up as well as reaching the semi-final stage in the 1910 FA Cup. His team mates at Everton included fellow Irish internationals Billy Scott and Bill Lacey, who had followed Harris from Shelbourne in February 1909. While at Everton, Harris made 190 league appearances and scored 1 goal. He also played a further 14 games and scored a further goal in the FA Cup.

Irish International[edit]

Val Harris (first player on left of back-row) with Ireland team v Wales during 1914 British Home Championship.

Harris made his debut for Ireland as a centre-forward on 17 February 1906 in a 5–0 defeat to England at the Solitude Ground. His team mates that day included Robert Milne and Jack Kirwan. He was the first Shelbourne player to be capped by Ireland and subsequently won a further six caps while at the club. Despite suffering a number of severe injuries related to his robust style of play, Harris was remarkably consistent in his appearances for Ireland and he featured in a run of thirteen consecutive internationals between 1908 and 1912. On 15 February 1913, Harris captained the Ireland team, that also included Billy Scott and two-goal hero Billy Gillespie, as they beat England for the first time with a 2–1 win at Windsor Park. In 1914 Ireland went a stage further and won the British Home Championship. Harris and Gillespie were joined in the squad by among others, Patrick O’Connell, Louis Bookman and Bill Lacey.

Coaching career[edit]

After retiring as player in 1927 Harris became a coach with both the Irish Free State and Shelbourne. In 1932 Harris took charge of the Irish team as they played the Netherlands. Although the team was chosen by selectors, Harris took charge of training and gave the team talk. Before the game Harris declared Pat O'Callaghan put the tricolour flying high here in the 1928 Olympics and it's up to you lads to see it is still flying high this evening. The words proved inspiring as an Irish team that included Alex Stevenson, Mick O'Brien, Jimmy Kelly and Paddy Moore won 2–0. Harris would later coach and managed Shelbourne as they won the 1939 FAI Cup, their first success in that competition.

Honours[edit]

Gaelic footballer

Isles of the Sea

Dublin

Soccer player

Shelbourne

Everton

Ireland

Soccer manager

Shelbourne

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Who's Who of Everton (2004): Tony Matthews [1]
  • The Boys in Green – The FAI International Story (1997): Sean Ryan [2]

External links[edit]