Former Reading star James Harper has dropped hints about extending his semi-professional football career even at the age of 42.
This accomplished central midfielder, who made an impressive 348 appearances for Reading between 2001 and 2010, achieving promotion to the Championship and Premier League under notable managers such as Alan Pardew, Steve Coppell, and Brendan Rodgers.
Following his Football League stint, which lasted until 2014 and included spells with Sheffield United, Hull City, Wycombe Wanderers, and Doncaster Rovers, Harper has spent the last ten years in non-league football. Several local Berkshire teams, including Basingstoke Town, Hungerford Town, and Ascot United, have had the privilege of having the former Arsenal prospect on their roster in recent times.
Despite reaching the age of 42, Harper still maintains high standards on the field, and he’s dropped subtle hints about potentially prolonging his playing career after recovering from injury setbacks.
In a conversation with BBC Berkshire, he shared his recent experiences, stating, “Last season, I played for my friend’s team at Alresford Town. Unfortunately, we had a rough couple of matches, losing 8-1 and 5-1 with just ten men on the field. I was dealing with Achilles tendonitis, which kept me sidelined, but I’m almost back in shape now. Patrick Cox, a former youth team player, reached out to me; he’s now with Alton Town and suggested I join them when I’m fully fit.”
Harper humorously expressed that he might be the last one standing, still engaging in the game he loves. He even participates in six-a-side football on Mondays. However, he admitted that his enthusiasm has waned somewhat, attributing it to the changing dynamics within the sport. He stated, “I love the game, but I’ve grown weary of the unnecessary banter and moaning, as well as how easily players receive yellow cards these days.”
It’s worth noting that Harper stands as the sole surviving member of Reading’s title-winning squad from the 2005/06 season who continues to play competitive football in England.