ALTHOUGH it now seems unlikely that Sunderland’s long-serving defender Martin Harvey will play League football again because of a back injury, a final decision has yet to be made. But Harvey, a Northern Ireland international who has been at Roker since he was 15, will not be idle while he awaits the verdict on his playing future. He has been appointed reserve team coach.
Manager Bob Stokoe had intended bringing a new trainer-coach to Roker, but there was no sign of an appointment in the immediate future, so in the meantime, Mr Billy Elliott, caretaker-manager following the departure of Mr Alan Brown, will be first team assistant, with Harvey, and Ray Yeoman looking after the Reserves and Youths respectively.
Harvey, 31, came to Sunderland direct from school in Belfast. He worked his way through the junior ranks and had the unusual experience of establishing himself at international level before becoming a regular in his club side.
He ousted Danny Blanchflower from the Northern Ireland team, then took over from Stan Anderson in the Sunderland defence. A member of Sunderland’s 1964 promotion-winning side, he made his 350th appearance for the club at Norwich last season, and although he marked the occasion by claiming an equaliser, the celebrations turned soar when a knee injury a few minutes before the end forced him to go off.
That game, on March 11, was Harvey’s last appearance. He has since had an operation for cartilage trouble and, later, for a damaged disc on his back. Although he can run and kick a ball, he feels he has lost the speed on the turn so necessary in top class soccer.
However even if a subsequent medical examination finally ruled out a come-back, Harvey is far from despondent. He is grateful for the chance to gain some coaching experience and commented: “I’m delighted to get this opportunity and am determined to make a go for it. I regard Sunderland as my home.”
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on December 8 1972.