Joe Harper today admitted it would have been “impossible” for him to hold back the tears after being inducted into the Scottish Football Association’s Hall of Fame.
Dons legend and Evening Express columnist Joe was honoured last night at a gala ceremony held at Hampden Park, Glasgow
A clearly emotional Joe received a standing ovation from the audience of around 300, which included his children – Ross, Laura and Joanna – his partner, Sheila Mair, and many of his closest friends.
Joe said: “How I reacted underlined just how much this honour means to me.
“I knew it would be impossible to hold back the tears, especially with my family and friends there watching.
“The only regret is my parents (Eddie and Margaret) both passed away over the last couple of years.
“I would have loved them to have been there too because I know they would have been very proud.
“I dedicated the honour to them because they encouraged me to become a professional footballer and also gave me invaluable assistance and advice when it was needed throughout my life.”
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The SFA have recognised Joe for a career that included netting a club record 205 goals during his two spells with Aberdeen, from 1969 to 1981, a feat that earned him the nickname “King of the Beach End”.
He won the Scottish League Championship, Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup with the Dons and also scored twice in his four full international appearances for Scotland, which included an appearance at the 1978 World Cup finals in Argentina. Joe, 71, has also been rewarded for his charitable work, which includes raising more than £100,000 for local good causes over the last eight years through the charity golf tournament that bears his name.
“This honour is also for the Aberdeen fans,” continued Joe.
“They made me feel loved and valued from the day I walked into Pittodrie. You could never buy the sort of bond that exists between us, so it was only natural that I was thinking of the Red Army while I was being honoured.”
Drew Jarvie, Joe’s main strike partner with Aberdeen, presented the Hall of Fame Trophy on behalf of the SFA.
“It was a really nice touch by the SFA because without Drew I would never have scored as many goals as I did for Aberdeen,” said Joe.
“We formed a great partnership, with Drew often doing all the unsung, unselfish, work to set up the chances I took. It meant a lot to get the trophy from him because Drew is also one of my closest and most valued friends.”
The others inducted into the Hall of Fame last night were former Dundee United striker Paul Sturrock, Hearts record goalscorer John Robertson, 1960s Rangers forward Colin Stein, ex-Gers winger Tommy McLean and the late Patsy Gallagher, who starred for Celtic from 1911 to 1925.