A brief look at Canterbury City FC’s Bob Harrop

From a Busby Babe to a City centurion: the story of Bob Harrop.


As we approach the end of the footballing season, fans of the beautiful game won’t have too long to wait until the European Championships take place this June in Germany.

Whilst we will be cheering on The Three Lions in the hopes they can go one step further than last time and win their first major tournament since 1966, CommunityAd thought we would pay homage to a footballer who, in the 60s, made a legacy for himself in the South East.

Bobby Harrop played over 800 games from 1961-1978 for Margate, Ashford and Canterbury City and still holds the record today as Margate’s all-time appearance holder.

Born on 25th August 1936, the Manchester born centre-back signed as a youth player to the Red Devils as a 17-teen year old, winning the FA Youth Cup in 1954 before turning professional and playing with the reserves.

Harrop spent six years at Manchester United under the tutelage of Sir Matt Busby and featured for the first team in March 1958, just a month after the tragic Munich air disaster where the airplane flying the team of Manchester United back from a European game against Red Star Belgrade in Yugoslavia crashed at Munich-Riem Airport, where the pilots stopped to refuel. Eight players were killed and two never played football again due to injury.

The centre-backs debut came against West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup which United won 1-0. Harrop made a further 10 appearances for Manchester United but never became a regular and was eventually sold to Tranmere Rovers in 1959 for £4,000.

After two seasons at Tranmere, Bobby made the decision to quite league football at just 27 years of age, but was approached by then Margate FC manager Almer Hall. Harrop, nicknamed evergreen by his teammates, then signed for non-league Margate FC in 1961.


Harrop’s football career in the South East

Bobby Harrop had an incredible 9 season romance with the ‘Gate’ where he played a staggering 564 games, scoring 26 goals and helping create wonderful gems of history for the club.

The centre back left Margate in 1969 for fellow Kent based team Ashford Town where he played over 100 games, playing three seasons for the Nuts & Bolts. Bobby’s time in Ashford saw him win their ‘Player of the Year’ award for the 1969/70 season when they won pCommunityAd Exclusive - A brief look at Canterbury City FC's Bob Harropromotion to the Southern Premier League. In June 1972, Harrop joined Canterbury City FC as player-coach and captain. In the summer of 1975, he became player-manager at the club and he would hold this title until his sacking in April 1977 ending his time at Kingsmead after 5 years, 177 games and five goals.

Bobby Harrop’s love of the game carried on after his playing days as he remained in football as a non-league referee. In June 2005, he was elected president of the Thanet & District Football League and was unbelievably still refereeing during the early part of the 2007/09 season before sadly dying on 8th November 2007, aged 71.


Thank you to www.margatefootballclubhistory.com for the fantastic images and information they have on Bobby Harrop. If anyone has any fond memories of Bob Harrop or memorable Canterbury City FC moments, email in to [email protected]

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