Ports legend dies in Australia, aged 80

This photograph shows Harry Robinson (second left) with other Ports stars of the era ' from left Gerry Burrell, George Casement and Jimmy Walker, who is signing an autograph for young Ports fan Richard McRoberts. The picture was supplied by David Armstrong.
This photograph shows Harry Robinson (second left) with other Ports stars of the era ' from left Gerry Burrell, George Casement and Jimmy Walker, who is signing an autograph for young Ports fan Richard McRoberts. The picture was supplied by David Armstrong.

Harry Robinson, who has died in Australia, spent just one season with Portadown Football Club after he signed for manager Gibby Mackenzie in May 1958.

But sages of that era still speak with great affection of his goal-scoring feats – especially with striking partner Jimmy Walker.

The pair notched over 50 goals in a season that came within a whisker of landing the Ports’ first Irish League title – and they took part in a cup tie with Linfield that is still discussed passionately.

Born in Belfast in 1935, Harry was signed for Linfield by Mackenzie in May 1954 when the Scot was in charge of the Blues. He won a Gold Cup medal, two Intermediate Cup ‘gongs’ and an Irish Cup runners-up medal during his four years at Windsor Park. He also gained an amateur international ‘cap’ and a B Division ‘cap’ against Scotland.

When Robinson came to Portadown, he developed a great understanding with Walker, creating and scoring goals for one another. They were part of a super forward-line – Gerry Burrell, Harry Robinson, Jimmy Walker, Davie Henderson and Tommy Herron.

The Ports were set fair for the league title. But a 4-3 reversal at Bangor (after they had led 3-0 at half-time) saw them hit the buffers. And that Irish Cup replay thriller at Windsor Park saw them right out of luck.

It was 3-3 at the break, with Tommy Herron running riot on the left wing (he later went to Manchester United). But Herron was controversially ‘crocked’ in the second-half, and the Blues won 6-4.

Walker notched three that night, but Linfield’s legendary Jackie Milburn helped himself to four, and the Ports ended the season without silverware.

Harry was transferred to Fulham the following year for £4,000, quite a fee for an Irish League player in the 1950s.

His team mates at Craven Cottage included the legendary England captain Johnny Haynes.

When he came back from Fulham, Harry managed Carrick Rangers in 1967-68. He then emigrated to Australia, and received a testimonial dinner in 1989 from Port Augusta FC to mark 20 years’ service with the club.

After 32 years in Australia, he returned to Northern Ireland in June 2000 and lived in Dunmurry. He remained in Northern Ireland for 10 years, and returned to Australia where he died in hospital aged 80.