Chris Harper’s Port Vale reports were hugely influential for a generation of Vale fans and Rob Fielding pays tribute.
Rob Fielding writes…
In fact several of his reports of famous Vale victories were dutifully pasted into the young Fielding’s Port Vale scrapbooks…
I was saddened to learn of Chris Harper’s passing at the age of 71. Like many fans, Chris’ Vale reports were a big part of my life as I grew up.
In those early days of my Vale support I was desperate to read more of how my heroes were getting on and without teletext or the Internet, Harper’s reports in the then Evening Sentinel were influential and essential reading. In fact several of his reports of famous Vale victories were dutifully pasted into the young Fielding’s Port Vale scrapbooks.
Chris’ reporting continued to feed my Vale addiction as I moved away from Stoke-on-Trent and into the alien environment of Bristol. As an impoverished student I was unable to see that much of my football team and I was almost entirely reliant on my family back in Stoke to give me the Vale news.
I fondly remember phoning my father every fifteen minutes to get updates on Radio Stoke’s commentary of away games and most of all I was keen for the postman to call on Tuesdays or Wednesdays after a weekend game. That was because my dad would roll-up the Sentinel’s “Green Un” (and often a Vale clipping or two from previous issues of the Sentinel) and post it to me. I would eagerly await it and once opened I would read Chris Harper’s match reports with relish.
As a mere fan and mere amateur writer, I’ve always appreciated reading “proper” journalists and Chris was most definitely one of those. Even though I didn’t make those matches, his meticulously crafted reports would vividly evoke the atmosphere and give me a great idea of who was playing (or indeed not playing, he was very honest) well. His piece on one of my favourite Vale away days – a 2-2 draw at Anfield – is still read from time-to-time and because it’s so well written, I can recall moments in the match that may have previously slipped my mind.
I look back on those days of receiving “Harper’s prose through the post” with great fondness and I, like many other Vale fans, will miss Chris and the way he reported on the club’s ups and downs.
Chris Harper, 1943-2014. RIP forever Valiant