Former Portsmouth winger feels no added pressure being Scotland’s only black manager 

Kevin Harper. Picture: Steve Reid (024641-070)
Kevin Harper. Picture: Steve Reid (024641-070)
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Kevin Harper feels no added pressure being the only black manager in Scotland.

The former Pompey winger took charge of League Two strugglers Albion Rovers earlier this month. 

As a result, Harper became the first black, Asian or minority ethnic boss north of the border since Brazilian Marcio Maximo’s fourth-month spell at Livingston in 2003.

The 42-year-old, who hung up his boots two years ago, amassed more than 100 appearances during his five-year stint at the Blues. 

After arriving from Derby in 2000, Harper was a key member of Harry Redknapp's Division One promotion-winning side in the 2002-03 season. 

He departed Fratton Park in 2005 for Stoke City after slipping down the pecking order. 

The ex-Scotland under-21 international says he applied for ‘between 30 or 40’ jobs before Albion handed him his first managerial role.

But Harper does not feel his appointment will open the floodgates for more black managers to be given a chance in Scotland. 

He told BBC Sport Scotland: ‘In any other walk of life, if there wasn't a black or ethnic minority in a particular industry or company for 15 years, there would be uproar.

‘Should football be different? If Albion Rovers had appointed a white manager, I don't think there would have been the interest.

‘But do I feel more pressure because I'm black? No. The pressure for me is to keep the club in the league.

‘If I do well, it might help others, but I don't think me being at Albion Rovers or keeping them up is going to open the floodgates for black and ethnic managers to take over, so to speak.

‘That said, if one person wants to become a coach or a manager because of me, that's perfect.'

While waiting to be given a managerial opportunity, Harper spent several months working as a recruitment consultant.

But the former Derby County, Stoke and Dunfermline winger did not lose faith during that period. 

And struggles are nothing new for Harper as he revealed he faced racial abuse as a youngster.

‘I imagine a lot of people would get disheartened,' he added.

‘And maybe that's it. Maybe black and ethnic coaches think “what's the point?”.

‘I'm not for a minute saying black or ethnic coaches deserve an interview purely because of their colour. And I wasn't the best candidate in all of those cases.

‘But, when you look at CVs, there's a least half of those jobs, in my opinion, that I should have been interviewed for.

‘It's changed a hell of a lot, but we've not come far enough. Are we ever going to have a time when there is nobody in a stand or on the side of a pitch who is going to say something? I don't think so.

‘Any game I went to, I'd be racially abused as a 10, 11, 12, 13 year old.

‘But I don't believe everyone who says something like that is racist - it's the easy word to come out with. 

‘We need to educate people and make them understand that it's unacceptable and I don't think we do that enough.’