April 17, 1908
One of the most promising players that the Liverpool Club has secured this season is the subject of our sketch this week. It is said, and we are not disposed to question the truth of the statement, that good footballers are almost impossible to obtain, but if the form shown by this recruit to the Anfield ranks in his trials up to the present, be a fair criterion of his work, then Liverpool have reason to congratulate themselves on their acquisition. And when we further consider this vital point, that it is the half-back line, which constitutes the foundation of a successful team, there is further cause for gratification that a player of the calibre of Harrop has been persuaded to throw in his lot with the Anfielders.
James Harrop was born at Heeley, near Sheffield, some twenty-two years ago, and therefore comes from a county where sport is bred in the bone. At the age of fourteen he first begun to turn his attention to football, and joined a club named Meersbrook Albion, which was connected with the Abbeydale and District League. He stayed with them for one season, and played inside-left. The Albion finished amongst the first four clubs in the League, and therefore qualified to participate in the semi-final games. Having proved successful they became finalists, and gained the medals as eventual runners-up.
The following year Harrop joined Heeley St. Peter’s, who were members of the Heeley and District League, and as inside left he assisted them for a twelve months. Before the commencement of another campaign he had transferred his services to Kent Road Mission, a team attached to the Sheffield Sunday School League, and here he remained for two years. As inside left he gained a reputation, and the Missioners won the final of the Abbeydale and District League.
Whilst with them, Harrop, who was a keen participator in cricket in the summer months, helped to win the Championship of the Heeley and District Cricket League three years in succession, and he gained a certain amount of fame, as a local batsman of more than average merit. It is as a footballer, however, that we have to deal with him, and as a matter of fact his career as a cricketer practically ended here. He did indeed play another season, and had a batting average of 25 with Ranmoor Wesley, after which football claimed him almost undividedly.
On severing his connection with the Missioners, he joined Ranmoor Wesley, a club playing in the Sheffield Minor League, and started with them as a left full back. During his short season’s stay with them he gradually drifted to the centre half position, and quickly discovered that this was his rightful post on the football field.
He did not conclude the winter with the Wesleyans, for Sheffield Wednesday heard of his prowess, and he left for Owlerton. That season he finished with the Wednesday Reserves, and also the following year, what time he filled the centre half back position with credit.
However, his migrations were not yet ended, for Harrop commenced the tourney of 1905-06 with Denaby United, and as inside left scored no fewer than 22 goals before the end of December. He was then transferred to left half-back, but at the close of the season, was chosen for the Rest of the League, versus the Champions Sheffield United Reserves, as inside left. Harrop scored the only goal of that game.
Last year, he opened with Rotherham Town, as an inside right, but it soon became apparent that he was out of his proper place. Against Gainsborough Trinity he occupied the post of centre half back, and the same day was made captain of the Town team. From that time he was a half back only, and in subsequent matches he displayed great skill and judgment as skipper and half back pivot.
His transfer to Liverpool recently is already fresh in the minds of our readers, but since coming to this city, he has occupied a variety of positions, in the League and Reserves teams. With the premier eleven he first appeared against Bolton Wanderers, on January 18th, and his cool tactics drew forth favourable comment from all who saw him perform. He gave a capital display at Bury a fortnight ago, and in the fixture with Manchester United, when the Reds won by 7 goals to 4, he fairly held the redoubtable Billy Meredith for three-quarters of the game.
Our early impressions of Harrop have been distinctly pleasing, for he uses his head to advantage in a double sense, and seems imbued with a determination to play the game intelligently and fairly. Experience in first-class football will develop his latent abilities, and we fully expect to see him a regular player in the first team next winter.
He stands 5ft. 9½in. and weighs 11st., and has a particular liking for the post of centre half back. During the summer months he beguiles his time by indulging in his favourite pastime – fishing. His brother George is a well-known celebrity in Sheffield angling circles, and our subject is no mean exponent of the art, beloved of Izak Walton.
Harrop has youth, strength, and ability to equip him for his future career as a footballer, and the early opinions formed of him in Liverpool are certainly in his favour. We trust he will continue to improve, and that he will for many years hold his place in the Liverpool ranks. His interest is centred in football, and as he is already secured to the Anfielders for another season, we hope to make further acquaintance with him on the playing pitch. He takes a pride in keeping himself thoroughly fit, and there is no reason why he should not attempt to reach the highest flights possible for a footballer.
(Joint Everton and Liverpool Match Programme: April 17, 1908)