Sheerness, Kent born centre forward Ted Harper played non league football for Whitstable Town in 1919 and Sheppey United in 1920 from where he was signed by First Division club Blackburn Rovers in 1923, making his Football League debut against Chelsea in August 1923, being an ever present during his debut season, scoring 18 goals and being the club’s top scorer. Described as ‘strong and quick’, and “tall, speedy and a good shot”, his career took off with a remarkable 43 League goals scored in only 37 matches in 1925-26, a new Football League record, a season which saw him win his only England cap when he played against Scotland in a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford in April 1926. His 43 goal haul, still a Blackburn club record haul for a single season, included 5 goals in a 7-1 win at Newcastle United, 4 goals in a 7-0 defeat of Manchester United and two further hat-tricks. He followed this up with 35 goals in 1926-27 with 4 goals against West Ham United, before Sheffield Wednesday bought him for somewhat under £4,000 in November 1927 after 107 goals in 149 appearances for Rovers.
He scored a hat-trick on his Wednesday debut in a 6-4 win at Derby County but lost his place in their line up after February 1928 and played only 6 more matches during their League Championship winning season before joining Second Division club Tottenham Hotspur n March 1929 for a fee of £5,500 after 16 goals in 22 appearances for The Owls, breaking the Tottenham club record which had been created only a few weeks earlier when Baden Herod was signed for £4,000 from Brentford. At Spurs he regained his prolific marksmanship scoring 37 goals in 32 appearances in 1930-31 including 5 goals against Reading, 4 against Port Vale and two further hat-tricks that season against Charlton Athletic and Oldham Athletic.
He returned to Lancashire when he signed for Preston North End with Dick Rowley for £5,000 in December 1931 after 63 goals in 67 appearances for Spurs, and managed 26 goals in 27 games in what remained of the season, including hat-tricks against Southampton, Wolves and Plymouth Argyle, followed by 37 goals in 1932-33, which included two 4-goal bursts against Burnley and Lincoln City with trebles against West Ham United and Manchester United. He finally returned to Blackburn Rovers for £1,300 in November 1933 and played for another year for Rovers, scoring another 15 goals in 28 matches, his final hat-trick coming as he scored all three goals in a win over Leicester City in March 1934, before finishing his career in 1935. Harper took on a coaching role at Blackburn following his retirement aged 33.