Born in Featherstone on 19th September 1946, but brought up in the Land of Green Ginger, Mick was drilled in the four Rs at St Andrew’s School, rugby no doubt being a welcome escape from the disciplines of reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. But no more than that, for whatever aptitude or appetite for the game he showed at that stage, it was his decision as a 16-year-old to join the Fish Trades Boys’ Club that virtually laid on a professional career, his rapidly maturing physique and no-nonsense solidity in both the tight and the loose being the very qualities Hull were looking for in a successor to the long-serving Mick Scott.
He was quick to repay their faith, too, for within a few months of making his debut in the 2nd row in August ’65, he was established at No 8 and never sold them short, keeping his feet on the ground despite a meteoric rise to international status, selection for the Great Britain Under-24s at Bayonne in November ’66 being followed in January at Carcassonne by the first of seven Test appearances. Indeed, his splendid record of 318 games in Hull colours in the course of eight seasons speaks volumes for his durability and, above all, his application, never more evident than in the 1969 Yorkshire Cup Final, when a 12- 9 victory over Peatherstone Rovers at Headingley made amends for the defeat suffered two years earlier at the hands of their Craven Park neighbours.
What price character and commitment? On Tuesday 10th September 1974, shortly after his transfer to Leeds for a fee of £9,500, there was Mick, playing under The Boulevard lights again in a 2nd Round Yorkshire Cup-tie, with a daunting overnight trip ahead, for he had promised to join the Yorkshire team and officials at their Cockermouth HQ, in readiness for the game against Cumbria at Workington on the morrow. Not for him the easy way out! To have feigned a niggling injury would have been foreign to his nature. He’d get there, choose how! And so he did, making the coast-to-coast trip even as a County ‘Watch’ Committee, comprising Trevor Forkes, Brian Atkinson and Secretary ‘George’ Hirst kept their vigil of faith (all strictly TT, of course!).
Going on for 5 a.m. it was when he eventually arrived at the Globe Hotel, beating the milkman by a short head and actually troubling to ask if there was any possibility of his being excused the morning training session! After all that, winning pay would have been little enough, but Cumbria had other ideas, Yorkshire going down by 7 points to 10. What price character, commitment and experience? £9,500 turned out to be little enough! True, it is difficult to recall a particular match in which he stole the limelight, yet for all he was extremely modest off the field and rarely conspicuous on it, Dependability Harrison ranks as yet another of the game’s unsung heroes, ever ready to pit his strength and wits against the best in the game in the tight, and never going into hiding in the loose. Had it not been for injuries ruling him out of the ’75 Premiership Final, as well as the Yorkshire Cup Finals of ’76 and ’79 (the latter because of a troublesome back which was to restrict him to just four appearances in the season), his record of achievement at Headingley would have been even more creditable. As it was, he made his telling anchor-man contributions in five Finals, to earn a winner’s medal on each occasion:
As for further representative honours, he took his tally of county matches to eight, with games against Other Nationalities in 1974 and Cumbria in 1978, in which same year England finally called on him for the internationals versus France at Toulouse and Wales at St Helens. Great Britain at 20; England at 31! And never a Tour! It’s a funny old game! It was from Hull he came in 1974; it was to Hull he returned in 1982, to round off his career with seven more appearances in the black and white hoops of his youth. The years between were not in vain!