JOHN Robert Harris - ''Tony'' to the wider world - has died at the age of 77, and much more than most he made professional football profitable and fun. He came to Hampden early in the Second World War, having briefly served in the RAF and the Navy but sent back to university when the authorities learned that he was a dental student. There was a disaster threatening wartime shortage of dentists.

He therefore learned his football, not in the Forces he had been keen to join, but in the wartime Scottish game, where he played with Queen's Park alongside such fine players as Ian McColl, Arthur Dixon, Andy Aitken, and Johnny Aitkenhead. He stayed at Hampden for almost five years and took full advantage of the sense of relief that the end of the war brought to sport. He must be one of the very few players who took part in Glasgow University charities day parade, dressed as a girl hockey player, before facing Rangers at Ibrox in the afternoon.

Things were lively at Hampden at that time, and Queen's Park, for once enjoying the virtue of continuity were a formidable side, with men such as Johnny Farquhar, Davie Letham, Colin Liddell, and Kenny Chisholm coming back from the Forces. In October 1945 Queen's Park won their last trophy to date, the Glasgow Cup; and on the strength of that, and the fact that from January 1, 1945 they had gone 13 games without defeat, they were invited to go to Germany within six months of the war ending to play the British Army of the Rhine, who had just taken six goals off a strong Rangers side.

It was therefore with a feeling of foreboding that Harris, as club captain, led the side on to a military Dakota at Prestwick, but after a fairly hairy flight Queen's performed perfectly respectably in holding the Army to 3-0. However, trouble was in store. Fog and official ineptitude held up the return flight, and the reserves - the Strollers - had to fulfil the first-team fixture against Queen of the South, in which they performed heroically to lose 3-2.

A few months before this Tony Harris had received a wartime cap, coming in against England in April 1945 when Jock Dodds withdrew at the last minute. It was a melancholy day. President Roosevelt had died, it poured throughout the match, a Scot (Tommy Bogan) was seriously injured in the first minute, and England won 6-1. Tony would cheerfully produce a report of the match which said: ''Harris did not suffer in comparison with any of the rest of his team-mates,'' which he considered to be the ultimate in praising with faint damns.

He had started off as a right-winger, and Queen's used his powerful physique through the middle. And his physique was powerful. He reminded one of Hurricane Jeck, Para Handy's shipmate, who was described by that mariner as having ''shoulders like three fish boxes''. When he turned professional with Aberdeen in 1946 he was again used as a winger, and occupied the right flank as a member of Aberdeen's first-ever Scottish Cup-winning side in 1947.

He roamed the wing like a battle-cruiser, and to his natural incisiveness and hard but fair tackling he added an unexpected capacity for making the penetrating pass. He settled well in the northern city and had a flourishing dental practice there. He gave the club almost 10 years' service, dropping back to right-half with the years, and in 1953 he made another Cup Final appearance - this time against Rangers, and this time a losing one. In the summer he could be found playing golf over Millport with the same enthusiasm that he brought to his football. We used to meet with some regularity, in and out of bounds of the field.

He was an exuberant player who conveyed to the spectators the impression that he was thoroughly enjoying himself. In a League Cup game against Morton at Hampden he looked grotesquely offside when receiving an Arthur Dixon pass. Tony agreed with this verdict and turned round to dribble the ball back upfield for a Morton free- kick. Then frantic colleagues yelled that there had been no flag, and so isolated was Tony that he was able to turn round yet again and put the ball in the net for the winner. He was almost unable to do this, so convulsed with laughter was he.

In the last of his playing days he was a useful edition to the Airdrie ranks, but he will be recalled with greater affection by Aberdeen supporters, and above all by those who admired his buccaneering style from the Hampden terraces, when the drab wartime days were lit up for the moment by the ebullient Tony Harris.