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Former NI assistant and Sunderland ace Harvey dies aged 78



Top team: assistant coaches Martin Harvey (left) and Bertie Peacock (centre) with boss Billy Bingham at Spain ‘82

Top team: assistant coaches Martin Harvey (left) and Bertie Peacock (centre) with boss Billy Bingham at Spain ‘82

Top team: assistant coaches Martin Harvey (left) and Bertie Peacock (centre) with boss Billy Bingham at Spain ‘82

Former Northern Ireland footballer and assistant manager Martin Harvey has passed away at the age of 78.

Harvey will be best remembered as the assistant manager to Billy Bingham during Northern Ireland's appearances at the 1982 and 1986 World Cup finals.

The Belfast man also made 34 appearances for his country as an exciting wing half, scoring three goals in a ten-year period between 1961 and 1971.

While he never made it big as a manager, Harvey was a very capable assistant, as reflected in two World Cup appearances and a hugely successful spell under Jimmy Nicholl at Raith Rovers.

As a player, the defender joined Sunderland in 1959 and went on to make 314 appearances for the club, and was generally regarded as one of the greatest defenders the club ever had.

Just 5ft 9in tall, Martin was a tremendous tackler, with style and timing his greatest skills.

Alongside Jimmy Montgomery, Cecil Irwin, Len Ashurst, Charlie Hurley and Jim McNab, he helped form a defensive corps considered the best in Sunderland's history.

Hailing from Boyland FC in Belfast, the club which also produced George Best, Harvey would end his career as a one-club man having retired as a Sunderland player in 1972 due to injuries at the age of just 30.

However, his association with the club continued as he took up a coaching role shortly after, while he was also granted a testimonial match against Newcastle United in April 1975.

In February 1980, Harvey was promoted from assistant to caretaker manager at Carlisle United to replace Bobby Moncur, and led them to sixth place while in temporary charge, earning his first permanent job.

But his tenure with the club lasted just six games into the new season when he was sacked, and he decided to follow Moncur to Plymouth Argyle as his assistant once more.

That led to recognition at national level, with Bingham asking Harvey to come on board with Northern Ireland as assistant manager in 1982, alongside the late, great Bertie Peacock, for the '82 World Cup finals in Spain.

He also worked under Bingham for a spell in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s.

Harvey got two chances to take over at Plymouth, however was passed over both times, before his second spell with Northern Ireland at Mexico '86.

Northern Ireland legend Gerry Armstrong said: "Martin was a great coach and a lovely man.

"I have very happy memories of him from Spain 1982 and Mexico 1986."

Former Northern Ireland manager Bryan Hamilton added: "One of the really good guys, a true gentleman and a great professional.

"When I got my first call up for the International team he was quick to welcome me to the squad and made me feel like I was an important part of the group."

A four-year stay as coach at Home Park was followed by arguably his most successful spell as an assistant manager with Raith Rovers.

Working under Jimmy Nicholl, Harvey won the old Scottish First Division - now the Championship - twice in 1993 and 1995, gaining promotion to the Premiership, and also won the League Cup in 1994.

After retiring from managerial roles following a short spell with Millwall, Harvey settled in Devon, where he lived until his death on Sunday evening.

His former sides paid tribute to him on social media, with Sunderland posting: "We're deeply saddened by the passing of Martin Harvey at the age of 78.

"The thoughts of everybody at #SAFC are with Martin's family and friends at this sad time. Rest in peace, Martin."

Belfast Telegraph