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Joe Harper ‘delighted’ as record-equalling five-goal showing against Canada officially added to Scotland appearance tally

Joe Harper in Scotland colours in 1978.
Joe Harper in Scotland colours in 1978.

Joe Harper is ‘delighted’ to have received official word his Scotland appearance tally has been boosted from four games to five – with his five-goal salvo against Canada in 1967 now rubber-stamped as a joint-national team record.

Aberdeen legend Harper has received a letter from the SFA confirming his Scottish Football Hall of Fame entry will be updated to include the mid-Sixties clash with the Canadians.

The SFA announced last year matches against Israel, Australia and Canada from a 1967 summer tour had been upgraded to full internationals – a move which allowed players who never officially turned out for the national team before or afterwards to each be given a commemorative cap.

Ex-Aberdeen boss Sir Alex Ferguson was one of those previously uncapped players, and received his cap on the pitch at Hampden, with the sons of Harry Hood and Alan Anderson also present to receive their fathers’ caps.

Sir Alex Ferguson receives a Scotland cap on the pitch at Hampden last year.

The ceremony – which took place ahead of Scotland’s clash with Israel in October – had raised questions about how the move to upgrade the 1967 games would affect the records of the other players on the tour, like Harper, who were or went on to be fully-fledged internationals.

Harper ‘proud’ of efforts

However, ‘The King of the Beach End’ now has clarity.

A letter on behalf of SFA president Rod Petrie – which also confirmed the rest of the players involved on the tour would not be receiving commemorative caps – said: “I can confirm that the matches you played in during the tour of 1967 and the goals you scored will be added to your international record held by the Scottish FA Museum.”

Although Harper admits he’s disappointed the other players involved in the 1967 tour won’t receive a physical cap in tribute, he’s ‘proud’ his efforts will be reflected in the Scottish Football Hall of Fame at Hampden.

The 2019 inductee said: “I’m still proud of it – but another cap would be fine.

“In 1967, nobody ever thought we were getting caps, we knew that right at the very beginning

“But I was thinking more of the boys who are dead now and their grandkids could’ve had that extra cap. What would that have cost – a few hundred quid?

“I’m disappointed that I’m not getting a cap, but I’m delighted it’ll be recognised in the Hall of Fame.

“The other thing they are going to do is they are going to put in my goals.

“There’s only two people who have scored five goals (in a game for Scotland), and that was Hughie Gallagher, and me against Canada.

“They are going to recognise that as far as I believe.

“I’m happy enough it’s being noted after all of these years.”

Changes to national team tally

The match against Canada in Winnipeg in June 13, 1967 was the sides’ first-ever meeting.

Bobby Brown’s Scots would run out 7-2 winners with Willie Morgan and Bobbie Hope adding the gloss to Harper’s phenomenal goalscoring performance.

Hughie Gallagher, who netted five times against Ireland in 1929, is the only other player who has managed five goals in a full international for Scotland.

Harper – the Dons’ all-time record goalscorer across two spells – would go on to play twice for the national team in 1972 World Cup qualifiers against Denmark, scoring in a 4-1 victory in Copenhagen.

He would play for Scotland against Denmark again in 1975 as part of European Championship qualifying, netting the only goal of the game in another away win.

Joe Harper scoring a goal for Scotland against Denmark in Copenhagen in 1975.

Harper’s final Scotland appearance came at the Argentina 1978 World Cup in the 1-1 group stage draw with Iran.

The addition of the goals from the Canada game, when Harper was just 19 years old, means his national team tally now stands at seven goals in five full international appearances.

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