MARTIN Harvey’s Sunderland career ended with practically the last kick of a dramatic, fast-moving match at Norwich.
It was an awful way to finish, particularly given that his first goal in six years, in the 78th minute, had given Sunderland the lead in the Northern Ireland international’s 350th match for the club.
The Canaries rallied to earn a point with a late Jimmy Bone strike, but the pivotal moment in Harvey’s career followed in the dying seconds when he stumbled and wrenched his right knee in attempting a clearance.
The long-serving captain went in for an operation to try to fix the cartilage problem on the Monday morning, with Sunderland immediately ruling him out for the season.
But the problem was more severe than first feared, and the popular player, who had joined as a 15-year-old in 1958 – when he was so small that he was played as a left-winger in the Rokermen’s fifth team, Silksworth Juniors – did not kick another ball for his only senior club.
Harvey was well remembered for, in the space of 10 days, displacing Stan Anderson at right-half for Sunderland and Danny Blanchflower for his national team.
Argus hailed Harvey’s gallant efforts, writing in the Football Echo: “Harvey, whose special skills have been developed in 12 seasons of first-team football, stepped into the vacancy created by the transfer of Colin Todd last season to do a holding job in defence and has since emerged as a sweeper of such quality that it won him a recall into the Northern Ireland international pool.
“His loss at this stage is a great blow, especially given that Bobby Park is also a long-term absentee.”
Norwich probably shaded the goalless first half, but Jimmy Montgomery did not have to do much to preserve his clean sheet up until the break, while Dennis Tueart went close with an effort which was blocked by goalkeeper Kevin Keelan’s legs.
Sunderland were ahead, though, with 12 minutes to go as Harvey bagged a rare goal, and in some style.
John Lathan beat Payne cleverly on the wing and was floored by the defender, but got up quickly to try a through ball to Tueart, only to be pulled back by the referee for the free-kick.
Dick Malone took the set piece, driving it to the far post, where Keelan could only palm it away, in the direction of Lathan, whose well-placed lob into the middle was volleyed home by Harvey.
Sunderland almost added a killer second goal soon after when Ian Porterfield got through, but he opted to shoot, and see his effort blocked, when the better choice would have been a pass to play in Bobby Kerr.
Four minutes from time, Keith Coleman conceded a corner on the right and from sub Ken Foggo’s flag-kick, Bone sent in a powerful header, Montgomery could not reach it, but Coleman, defending on the line, made a bold attempt to keep it out.
He got his chest against the ball, but the angle was against him and it was deflected just inside the post.
Sunderland were devastated, yet still almost conjured up a winne, with Tueart delightfully playing in Lathan, whose well-hit drive had Keelan beaten but was kept out by Payne on the line.
The point kept Sunderland third in Division Two, three points behind Norwich in the second automatic promotion spot, and extended their unbeaten run to six games, but the loss of Harvey overshadowed all the good which came out of the match.