Eric Harrison passed away peacefully last night with his family by his side, aged 81. Eric had been battling with mixed dementia after being diagnosed four years ago.
Described by the Professional Footballers’ Association as “one of the game’s great teachers”, he was awarded an MBE for services to football in the 2018 New Years Honours. He had been unable to travel to London and therefore received his honour at Halifax Town’s ground, The Shay, where he had started his playing career in 1957.
Eric had already been inducted into the FA’s Licensed Coaches Club Hall of Fame in 2014, as one of the most highly influential Youth coaches in the country. Credited by all for the development and nurturing of the Manchester United Class of ’92 Eric’s contribution to football in this country can not be overstated and the respect for him shown by some of the top players and managers in the country is there for all to see.
As a player he spent 7 years at Haifax Town and 2 years at Hartlepools United before he joined Barrow from whom Southport manager Don McEvoy signed him in 1969 as a hard-tackling defender.
Harrison’s sturdy defensive nature and natural leadership were an asset to Southport in a time of turmoil following their relegation from the Third Division. McEvoy was dismissed midway through Harrison’s first season so it was no surprise when he chose to rejoin his former boss back at Barrow for the 1971/72 season.
Eric made his debut for the Sandgrounders on 9th August 1969, playing the last of his 82 games at the club on 26th April 1971.
Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.