RIP Wayne Harrison (Liverpool FC) 1967-2013

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RIP Wayne Harrison  (Liverpool FC) 1967-2013

Liverpool Football Club was saddened to hear of the passing of former Reds player Wayne Harrison, at the age of 46.   Harrison became a household name throughout the country in March 1985, when Joe Fagan made the then 17-year-old the most expensive teenage footballer in Britain.   The Manchester-born Liverpool supporter passed away on Wednesday, Christmas Day, after suffering pancreatic problems.

Initially spotted by Tom Saunders, the young Harrison was one of the most sought-after prospects in the game, with the Reds seeing off competition from Everton, Manchester United and Nottingham Forest to capture his signature.   A prolific goalscorer who cited Kenny Dalglish and Kevin Keegan as his idols, the forward had netted 35 times for Oldham Athletic’s reserve and junior sides before, at just 16, becoming the youngest first-team player in history at Boundary Park.   Alerted to Harrison’s precocious talent when he notched an FA Youth Cup brace at Anfield in December 1984 to help Oldham claim a surprise 4-3 victory, Reds boss Fagan instantly sanctioned a record bid.

Liverpool ultimately parted with £250,000 for the starlet’s services in a high-profile switch which prompted national headlines; “You hear reports about a special player perhaps once in 20 years,” Fagan explained. “That’s why we bought him.”   As part of the transfer agreement, Harrison was promptly loaned back to Oldham to continue his development, but after just one further senior outing he was recalled to begin his Anfield education in the reserve team.

Two goals in the final five Central League games of that 1984-85 season seemed to bode well for the future, but a succession of injuries curtailed his progress and his misfortune continued during a pre-season reserves tour, when he was involved in a near fatal accident that saw him fall through a greenhouse and suffer a major loss of blood.

By the late 1980s, Harrison looked to have put those troubles behind him and he was top scorer with 17 goals from 28 games as the reserves clinched the Central League title in 1989-90.   A first-team breakthrough seemed on the cards but another untimely injury left him with irreparable damage to his knee and he was forced to call time on a once potentially glittering career.

In 1992, Liverpool and Oldham played a testimonial game in his honour at Boundary Park but, such was the severity of the injuries he had suffered, Harrison was unable to play any part.   Despite his bad luck, he harboured no bitterness about how his career panned out and returned to his hometown of Stockport, where he worked as a HGV driver for a local brewery.

The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club go out to his family and friends at this sad time.   RIP Wayne Harrison 1967-2013

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