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Val Harris

Name: Valentine Harris
Born: 23 June 1884, Ringsend, Dublin
Position: Forward / Half-Back

Representative Honours: Ireland: 20 Full Caps (1906-1914); Irish League: 4 Caps (1904-1906); League of Ireland: 2 Caps (1925-1926).
Club Honours: (with Shelbourne) Irish Cup Winner 1905/06, 1920/21, Runner-Up 1904/05, 1906/07, 1907/08; League of Ireland Champion 1925/26; League of Ireland Shield Winner 1921/22, 1922/23, 1925/26; Leinster Cup Winner.

Club Career:
FA Cup
West Bromwich Albion
0/ 0
190/ 1
14/ 1
* Both spells (71/13 Irish League, 89/6 League of Ireland. ** Both spells (Irish Cup only)

An extremely hard, but versatile player, Val Harris won twenty Irish caps in five different positions (centre-forward, inside-right, right-half, left-half and centre-half).

Harris had been an accomplished Gaelic footballer as a teenager before switching to soccer. He played with Junior clubs Pembroke and Emerald before signing with Shelbourne. He made an impressive start to his Irish League career. Within a month of his debut, on 17th September 1904 in a 3-1 defeat by Glentoran, Harris had made the first of four inter-League appearances. In all Harris represented the Irish League four times (at centre-forward, inside-right and outside-right) in consecutive defeats by the Football League (0-2, 0-4, 0-6 and 3-6). At the end of his first Senior season Harris had played in the first of four consecutive Irish Cup Finals (the first two at inside-left, then outside-right, right-half and centre-half in a replay against Bohemians in 1908), winning just once – as captain in a 2-0 defeat of Belfast Celtic at Dalymount Park in 1906.

Capped for the first time in February 1906, Harris led the line in a 5-0 defeat by England at Solitude. It would be his fifth cap, playing at left-half, before Harris tasted victory with Ireland - Wales defeated 1-0 at Aberdare in April 1908. A week later Harris made his Football League debut, running out for Everton in a 2-1 defeat at Woolwich Arsenal. He cost Everton £350, the maximum allowed at the time, and it proved to be money well spent. He was soon established as the team’s regular right-half, noted for his consistency and effectiveness, many regarded him as one of the finest players in the game. With Harris in the team, Everton regularly challenged for the top honours, twice finishing as League runners-up, as well as falling at the semi-final stage in the 1910 FA Cup.

Despite suffering a number of severe injuries related to his ‘robust’ style of play, Harris was remarkably consistent in his appearances for Ireland. He featured in a run of thirteen consecutive internationals between 1908 and 1912, the highlight of which was a 1910 1-0 defeat of Scotland. Better was to follow, as in 1913 he captained the Irish to their first ever win over England, and the following year he was a member of Ireland’s first ever Home Nations Championship winning side.

In August 1914 Harris re-joined Shelbourne, but after a single season the League was suspended for the duration of the First World War. Until 1919 Shels contested the Leinster League, dominating it and the Leinster Cup. With the Irish League proper back in action for the 1919/20 season, Shelbourne claimed the Irish Cup “by default” when both Belfast Celtic and Glentoran were expelled from the competition. The following season Shelbourne, along with all the other “southern” Ireland clubs, resigned from the Irish League, and in 1921 they left the Irish FA altogether.

Shelbourne were founder members of the newly formed League of Ireland, and with Harris playing a key role, were one of the leading clubs right from the off. They won the first proper competition organised by the new body – the League of Ireland Shield – and finished in third in the League. The following season Shelbourne retained the Shield, and finished as League runners-up. Finally in 1925/26, after having finished runners-up again in 1924 and third in 1925, Shels clinched their first League of Ireland title, along with another Shield. Harris remained an important part of the team despite being well past his fortieth birthday, and the same season was selected for two inter-League matches – including in the League of Ireland’s 3-1 defeat of the Irish League at Dalymount Park.

Val Harris finally retired from playing at the end of the 1926/27 season. He would later coach and manage Shelbourne, leading them to their first FAI Cup win in 1939. He was also team manager of the Irish Free State national team during the 1930s.

Ireland Cap Details:
17-02-1906 England. H L 0-5 BC
16-02-1907 England. A L 0-1 BC
23-02-1907 Wales... H L 2-3 BC
15-02-1908 England. H L 1-3 BC
14-03-1908 Scotland H L 0-5 BC
11-04-1908 Wales... A W 1-0 BC
13-02-1909 England. A L 0-4 BC
15-03-1909 Scotland A L 0-5 BC
20-03-1909 Wales... H L 2-3 BC
12-02-1910 England. H D 1-1 BC
19-03-1910 Scotland H W 1-0 BC
11-04-1910 Wales... A L 1-4 BC
28-01-1911 Wales... H L 1-2 BC
11-02-1911 England. A L 1-2 BC
18-03-1911 Scotland A L 0-2 BC
10-02-1912 England. H L 1-6 BC
15-02-1913 England. H W 2-1 BC
15-03-1913 Scotland H L 1-2 BC
19-01-1914 Wales... A W 2-1 BC
14-03-1914 Scotland H D 1-1 BC

Summary: 20/0. Won 4, Drew 2, Lost 14.

Irish League Representative Match Details:
15-10-1904 Football League H L 0-2
14-10-1905 Football League A L 0-4
13-10-1906 Football League H L 0-6
12-10-1907 Football League A L 3-6

Summary: 4/0. Won 0, Drew 0, Lost 4.

League of Ireland Representative Match Details:
07-11-1925 Welsh League... A D 2-2 
13-03-1926 Irish League... H W 3-1 

Summary: 2/0. Won 1, Drew 1, Lost 0.