Gary Harkins (born 2 January 1985) is a Scottish professional footballer who is currently playing for Ayr United. He has also previously played for Blackburn Rovers, Huddersfield Town, Bury, Blackpool, Grimsby Town, Partick Thistle, Kilmarnock, St Mirren and Oldham Athletic.
Gary Harkins started out as a schoolboy player with Celtic before joining Blackburn Rovers as a YTS player when he was 16. He became a trainee in August 2003 but although he appeared in the academy and reserve teams he did not play a first team competitive game for the club. Harkins joined Huddersfield Town on loan in March 2004, where he made only three appearances before returning to Blackburn in June. The arrival of Mark Hughes as manager of Blackburn in September 2004 saw Harkins called up to play with the first team in a number of pre-season friendlies with Hughes apparently seeing potential in his future as a centre back. He joined Bury in February 2005, for whom he played five times in a month-long spell, and in November 2005, Harkins joined Blackpool on loan for one month, where he made six appearances, scoring two goals.
In July 2006, Harkins joined Grimsby Town on a free transfer, signing a two-year contract. He made his debut on 5 August 2006 in the club's 3–2 victory over Boston United and made 20 appearances in total for Grimsby in the 2006–07 season. His spell at Grimsby was an unhappy one, with homesickness and a falling out with manager Alan Buckley, who joined the club in November 2006, playing parts, and at the end of the 2006–07 season, Buckley allowed Harkins to look for another club. Instead, Harkins was released by the club, several weeks later after being allowed to leave.
Harkins then moved to his native Scotland and after a trial signed a one-year contract with Scottish First Division club Partick Thistle in July 2007.
While he started out at Thistle playing as a defender, his move into midfield let him play in a more attacking role. Harkins made 39 appearances in the 2007–08 season, scoring three goals, and 40 appearances in the 2008–09 season, scoring 11 goals. Harkins signed a one-year contract with the club in April. In the 2008–09 season, he was Thistle's top goalscorer with 11 goals, and was nominated for the First Division Player of the Year award. During the 2008–09 season, Harkins was awarded the Scottish Football League Player of the Month on February. At the end of 2008–09 season, Harkins was offered a new contract with the club, but Harkins reportedly rejected a contract, something that was denied by Ian McCall.
After a protracted effort in which Dundee had two offers turned down, Dundee signed Harkins in July 2009, for a fee of £150,000 plus future fees.
Harkins made 42 appearances for Dundee in the 2009–10 season, scoring 17 goals. He won the Irn-Bru Phenomenal Player of the Month for August 2009 in the Scottish Football League, and was nominated for Scotland's Player of the Year for the Scottish Football League Division One. Though making 42 appearance and scoring 17 goals, Harkins admitted to struggling with the price tag earlier in the season.
At the start of the 2010–11 season, Harkins was appointed as captain after being given the armband by manager Gordon Chisholm. Having being appointed as captain, Harkins says he will try his best to become a captain. He made a further 38 appearances, scoring five goals, in a troubled 2010–11 season for Dundee in which the club was penalised 25 points by the Scottish Football League in November 2010 after going into administration. Harkins admitted, seeing Dundee in administration, as the darkest day of his career.
At the end of the season, Harkins was nominated for Scottish Football League Player of the Year in the First Division.
In June 2011 Harkins left Dundee to sign for Kilmarnock for an undisclosed fee, exercising an option to leave agreed when Dundee went into administration in the previous November. Harkins made his first appearance for the Ayrshire side on 24 July, in a 1–1 draw with Dundee United at Tannadice. Harkins scored his first goal for Kilmarnock in a 5–0 win over Queen of the South in the Scottish League Cup 3rd round, scoring only 90 seconds into the match. On 18 March, he played in the 2012 Scottish League Cup Final which Kilmarnock won after beating Celtic 1–0. Harkins would be often used in first team ins and out in his first season, but couldn't produce his performance, like he did before his move to Kilmarnock, due to ankle injury.
In 2012–13 season, Harkins goal's became difficult for him to come by and only score two goals. During January 2013, it was reported that Harkins could return to Dundee. This was initially denied by manager Kenny Shiels, who claimed that Harkins was "one of the best players in the SPL".
Dundee (second spell)
On 25 January 2013, it was confirmed that Harkins had rejoined Dundee for an undisclosed fee. As part of the deal the clubs agreed that he would not play when the two clubs met the following weekend at Dens Park. Harkins's first game after signing for the club on a permanent basis came on 30 January 2013, in a 1–0 loss against Hearts. Then, on 6 April 2013, on the last game of the season before it split, Harkins scored twice, in a 2–0 win against his former club, to keep the club ensure of avoiding relegation. However, Dundee was then relegated after a draw with Aberdeen on 5 May 2013. Following their relegation, Harkins future is uncertain after desire to play in the higher level Harkins announces he is to leave Dundee, citing the club's failure takeover ownership.
Harkins had agreed a two-year contract with St Mirren in June 2013. His debut was the opening game of the season, in a 3–0 loss against Inverness Caledonian Thistle. In the next game, Harkins scored his first goal for the club, against his former club, Kilmarnock in a 1–1 draw. During the Fourth Round of the Scottish Cup Replay, Harkins scored his second goal in a 3–0 win over Queen of the South that ensured St Mirren would play in the fifth round. Following the match, Harkins vowed to keep his first team place. Harkins was criticised by Danny Lennon for not "working hard enough off the ball to succeed at St Mirren".
Oldham Athletic (loan)
Following an unsuccessful spell at St Mirren, Harkins joined Oldham Athletic on loan until the end of season 2013–14. Harkins scored his first goals for the club in a 5–4 win for Oldham against Peterborough after coming back from being 3–0 down at half–time. Harkins scored the first Oldham goal to make it 3–1, bundling the ball into the back of the net after a knockdown from Jonson Clarke-Harris, he then was involved in all of Oldham's goals, excelling on the left hand side of the pitch, he scored his second goal of the game with a penalty to make it 4–4 in the closing minutes of the game and then had the final say in the game, delivering the corner from which Genseric Kusunga scored with to make it 5–4 in the 96th minute of the game. Harkins deservedly won man of the match for his performance and he gained many plaudits post-match.
During his time at the club Harkins became a fans favourite. Upon the end of his loan and his return to his parent club he had made 24 appearances and scored 5 goals. After Harkins loan spell at Oldham Athletic came to an end, St Mirren announced on 27 June 2014 that the midfielder had his contract with the club cancelled by mutual consent.
Dundee (third spell)
Harkins signed a two-year contract with Dundee in June 2014. In the pre-season friendly, Harkins scored in their pre-season fixture against Manchester City, which Dundee went on to win 2–0.
He scored his first goal of his third spell at the club with a penalty as Dundee drew 1–1 with Kilmarnock on 9 August 2014. In a next game against Partick Thistle on 16 August 2014, Harkins took a penalty spot, only to be saved by Paul Gallacher, following Scott Fox sending off, which both side drew 1–1. Harkins scored two goals in two games against Aberdeen and Motherwell. His goal celebration against Motherwell went viral after Harkins did a wrestling move on Jim McAlister, which met with approval from wrestler Randy Orton, himself. Harkins then received a red card after a second bookable offense, in a 2–1 loss against Hamilton Academical on 13 December 2014. Harkins then scored his third goal of the season, in a 3–3 draw against Aberdeen on 17 January 2015. Towards the end of the 2014–15 season, Harkins suffered a shin injury, which saw him miss one game and a knee injury that caused him to miss eight matches. Despite the injuries, Harkins made his thirty-one appearance and scoring four times in all competitions.
On 12 August 2016, it was confirmed that Harkins had signed a two-year contract as a player/coach with newly promoted Scottish Championship side Ayr United.
- As of 17 July 2016
|Huddersfield Town (loan)||2003–04||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||0|
|Oldham Athletic (loan)||2013–14||23||5||1||0||0||0||0||0||24||5|
Harkins was born in Greenock and attended St Columba's High School, Gourock, where he played in a wide variety of positions and for varied teams before bagging his move to Blackburn. His brother Paul is also a footballer playing in Scottish League Two for Elgin City. In 2012, after a scan for ligament damage, Harkins revealed that doctors had told him he had been playing with a broken ankle for four years.
- Scottish Challenge Cup: 2010
- Scottish League Cup: 2012