Originally an inside forward, Edlington, Doncaster born right half Joe Harvey played junior football for Edlington Rangers in 1935 before joining Second Division club Bradford Park Avenue in May 1936, just short of his 18th birthday, but he didn’t make their first eleven. In November 1936 he joined Wolverhampton Wanderers, but as at Bradford he didn’t make a first team appearance for Wolves before his move to Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic in May 1937. His debut for Bournemouth came in the Third Division Cup against Reading in October 1937, and his Football League debut came three weeks later against Newport County, his only two appearances for The Cherries. He then joined Bradford City in 1938 but hadn’t made a first team appearance for them either before the advent of the Second World War suspended peacetime football.
At the outbreak of the War Harvey joined The Royal Artillery going on to become a sergeant-major in The Royal Army Physical Training Corps. During the War he made guest appearances for Aberdeen and Dundee United and in the 1943-44 season Harvey made 28 appearances for Bradford City and then 25 appearances the following season. His form in his last season at Valley Parade impressed Newcastle United and on the 20th October 1945 Newcastle United paid Bradford £4,500 for his services.
He quickly established himself in Newcastle’s youthful side and after an impressive debut against Barnsley in the 1946 FA Cup, he was made captain of the side, settling in the right half position. At the end of his first season with the club he was demobbed. Partly thanks to his time as a sergeant, he was an authoritative figure amongst the Newcastle players who had the utmost respect for him. However, his time at the club was not without controversy. In the 1946-47 he was memorably suspended by the club’s directors, along with teammate Len Shackleton, after going on strike against the quality of accommodation the club had provided the team. Both players were forced to make a public apology for their actions. Harvey was also believed to have been involved in the illegal selling of tickets for the 1952 FA Cup Final, although he was never charged for this.
He was a popular player amongst the supporters because of his attitude and displays on the pitch. In 1947-48 he was a big part of the team that gained promotion to the First Division as Second Division runners up, only missing five games throughout the whole campaign. He captained the team to two successive FA Cup victories in 1951 and 1952. He retired from playing in May 1953 at the age of 34, despite still being a first team regular after 12 goals in 248 appearances for The Toon.
However Harvey’s involvement in football and Newcastle was far from over as he worked towards becoming a coach. He began attending coaching sessions set up by Walter Winterbottom soon after retiring from playing. These sessions helped him to continue working at Newcastle as a trainer for two years. During this time he watched from the sidelines as the club won the FA Cup for the third time in a five year period.
In 1954 he took charge of Northern League club Crook Town who had reached the Final of the FA Amateur Cup and took intensive training sessions in readiness for the Final against local rivals Bishop Auckland, at the time considered the top amateur side in the country. After a 2-2 draw at Wembley before 100,000 fans and another 2-2 draw at St. James’ Park, Newcastle before 52,000, Crook finally emerged triumphant 1-0 at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough in front of a crowd of 39,000. The club felt that Harvey’s coaching sessions had made all the difference.
Wanting to find his way into top level management, Harvey took control of struggling Barrow in July 1955. Keeping the club in the League proved near impossible; the squad consisted of just five players upon his appointment. Consequently, Harvey had to apply for re-election by goal average only in 1955-56. He soon left Barrow and was appointed manager of Workington in June 1957, where he initially struggled too, but Harvey’s influence gradually saw the Workington nearing promotion. He applied for the vacant manager’s job at his beloved Newcastle United in 1958, but lost out to Charlie Mitten, continuing to manage Workington. The position became available again in the summer of 1962 and this time Harvey was successful in his application.
Harvey was appointed manager of Newcastle United in June 1962, and won the Second Division Championship in 1964-65. In 1968-69 Newcastle won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (to become the UEFA Cup) under his management, and was manager of Newcastle when they lost the 1974 FA Cup Final to Liverpool. He resigned after pressure from supporters at the end of the 1974-75 season. Harvey briefly returned as caretaker manager for Newcastle United for a few days in August 1980, whilst Newcastle were in their third year in Division Two, and Bill McGarry had just been sacked. Harvey took control, and is given a credit for steering Newcastle United to two wins and a draw before the appointment of Arthur Cox.