Harchester United F.C.
|File:Harchester United Logo.png|
|Full name||Harchester United Football Club|
|Founded||1883 ( Turned Professional in 1895 )|
|Ground||The Dragon's Lair|
Harchester United Football Club is a fictional Premier League football club from the former Sky TV show Dream Team, which was aired between 1997 and 2007.
The early years
In April 1895 at the Dragon Leather Tannery in Harchester, a group of men, led by tannery owner Sean Creamer, got together to form a football club in the hope of rivalling the other local club, Harchester St. Augustine. The club was named Harchester United.
There may have been friendly rivalry between United and St. Augustine, but good sportsmanship remained throughout as St. Augustine offered United the chance to play their home matches at their own Palmerston Road sports ground. United gratefully accepted.
Between 1895 and 1898, the club had such a fantastic record in the FA Cup for an amateur side that they managed to get together funds to turn professional. The record was so great that upon an application to join the Football League, they were instantly elected to do so by the other clubs.
The first season in Football League Division Two saw Harchester United win it by a fair distance and they were promoted to the First Division. After a brief yo-yo period of several ups and downs in the next few years, they won promotion back to the First Division in 1907. However, at the end of the 1907–08 season, Palmerston Road owners Harchester St. Augustine were suffering badly and ordered United to find a new place to play so that they could sell off their ground. United moved into the new Addison Road Stadium and obtained a 100-year lease for the ground.
In 1908, London businessman Ian Mayes brought the club from owner Robert Ball, who by this time had closed down the Tannery. Mayes decided to follow the example of other football clubs and bring in a new manager who had not been involved with the club before. That man was Joseph Peterson.
The pre and post-war years
Peterson's involvement never went down well with local supporters and in 1920 he resigned from the club following back to back relegations. This is where David Cooper came in to repair damage and finally won promotion from the Division Three North in 1926–27.
In 1932–33, Harchester United regained top flight status under the reins of new manager Edward Evans. Evans left the club in 1939 following the abandonment of the league due to the Second World War and was never contacted again.
After the War came new changes. First, Trevor Chamberlain became the new owner of the club in 1945 and appointed his friend Arthur Charlton as manager. Charlton had previously played for Portsmouth before the war and was a part of their FA Cup winning team.
Charlton's reign got off to the worst possible of starts with relegation in 1947. However, in a very successful 1957–58 campaign, a Division Two title was in the bag and Harchester United were promoted again. Tragedy would end Charlton's era as boss in March 1965 as the longest serving manager in Dragons history died following a heart attack during a league game with Blackburn at Addison Road.
Arthur Charlton's assistant Jim Stephenson instantly became the manager following the tragedy but disasters on the pitch were to follow with relegation in 1966–67.
Ecstasy and despair
By 1970, Harchester United were back in the top flight under the managerial guidance of the first non-English manager – the Scotsman, Robert McClaren. He won the side promotion in 1968–69 and in 1973–74 the club finished 4th – their highest ever! McClaren left at the end of that season to join German club Hamburg.
Former West Ham manager Harry Sidwell then took over as manager and had nearly 11 years in charge of the Dragons. There were a couple of decent Cup runs during his time, but nothing really materialised than mid-table positions and he left the club by mutual consent in May 1985.
In June 1985, Kenny Bruce became the new manager and really revolutionised the club. He made young talent Terry Glover captain and built a team around young sensation Kevin Nelson.
The revolution was a success and following a home win over Man City in May 1986, Harchester United were crowned Champions for the first time in the club's history. More good news followed the next month with Kevin Nelson becoming the first Dragon to play for England in the World Cup.
The Premiership, FA Cup and beyond
Steve Tomkins took over as boss and was responsible for the club's relegation at the end of 1989–90. In November 1992, former Youth Team player and die-hard Dragon Michael Jacobs took over control of the club. In December 1992, he decided to replace Tomkins as boss with the more experienced Ron Atkinson who'd left Aston Villa to take over.
Big Ron made big changes, so much so that the reward paid off with promotion to the Premiership for the first time in 1993–94. Survival was then they key for the Dragons, and after doing so in their first season, they were relegated following a defeat to QPR at the end of the 1995–96 season.
The following year, Harchester United reached the Semi Finals of the FA Cup and were also promoted back to the Premiership thanks to the fantastic goalscoring abilities of Karl Fletcher. Big Ron wanted to improve the squad this time, but wasn't allowed funds by chairman Michael Jacobs, so he resigned from his job.
Atkinson was replaced by former PSV Eindhoven boss Ian Coates who helped keep the club in the Premiership at the end of 1997–98. Tragedy struck during that season however as chairman Michael Jacobs died of a heart attack during a training session in which he joined in with his team.
1998–99 saw new changes to the club. Millionaire building supplies tycoon Jerry Block became the new chairman and was prepared to plough millions into the club. He signed Argentine sensation Luis Amor Rodriguez and together they'd bring the FA Cup to Harchester.
However, in May 1999, following an FA Cup Final victory over Man United at Wembley Stadium, an unknown hitman attempted to shoot Jerry Block's wife Lynda Block but shot club captain John Black dead instead. Tragedy followed that September following the club's first European adventure. After knocking Ajax Amsterdam out of the UEFA Cup, four first team members were killed in a plane crash just off the coast of Dover on the way home from the game.
Luis Amor Rodriguez quit as player/manager of Harchester United in March 2000 but stuck around as a player long enough to ensure the club fought off relegation before leaving for Boca Juniors. In Harchester United's first European adventure, they went out at the Quarter Final stage to Spanish side RCD Mallorca where former hero Karl Fletcher was plying his trade. He returned as a Dragon less than 24 hours after that match!
European dreams and nightmares
In 2000–01, Ray Wyatt brought in Nigerian striking sensation Monday Bandele from French side Paris St. Germain just after Christmas in a massive coup for the club. The deal paid off as the signing turned the club around and a 3rd Place finish was enough to ensure UEFA Champions League football next term.
The Champions League dream was short lived with defeat to the auld adversary RCD Mallorca in the 3rd Qualifying Round. Under the later guidance of Patrick Doyle, European dreams were made with the Dragons first ever appearance in a European final. It was a 1–0 defeat to AC Milan in the UEFA Cup Final.
The Dragons were severely weakened for that game though following a coach crash whilst travelling to that game in which three players were killed. Following the accident, manager Patrick Doyle promised to bring success to the club but it was later revealed that he had another motive of attempting to relegate the club.
When all this information came to light, it was revealed that goalkeeper Jamie Parker had been in on the plan and the Dragons were thrown out of the FA Cup which meant they lost their final place. They were allowed to replay their final Premiership game with Everton though which had previously been abandoned at Half Time as a now-mentally-ill Jamie Parker took the team hostage during the interval. He was killed by armed police following that incident. Harchester United did survive relegation after a Clyde Connelly goal and Tommy Moore penalty save but Doyle didn't as he was found dead, allegedly killed by the betting syndicate he had been working for.
The promised land
In 2003–04, there was an ongoing court case taking place to decide just who should own the club following a raffle by former owner Phil Wallis. Whilst this was going on, it was damaging the club's reputation with sponsors and following a £28million transfer of Luke Davenport at the start of the year, ongoing financial trouble saw Harchester United cease trading in March 2004.
This was not the choice of the club, but more the choice of Coopers Bank who were funding Harchester United's loans at the time. Following campaigning from players, staff, fans and other Premiership clubs, Coopers Bank gave Harchester United a reprieve until the end of the season.
The signing of Davenport also brought about the second departure of club legend Karl Fletcher, in a move that was unpopular with players and fans alike.
At the end of that season, qualification for the Champions League was achieved after a 3–2 win at home to Manchester United on the final day of the season. with goals from Danny Sullivan, Danny Mills and a late Lee Presley header. This was also the first time in their history Harchester had scored from three set pieces in the same match. However, the club were relegated on grounds of match fixing by UEFA following revelations by former Chief Executive Pilar Hernandez and former manager Stuart Naysmith.
2004–05 saw Harchester United in the Champions League and the newly formed Championship. The Dragons were brave in their European adventure reaching the Quarter Finals where they were knocked out by Arsenal. In the league, a Play Off Final victory over West Ham at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff secured promotion back to the Premiership at the first attempt.
Rising from the ashes
However, tragedy struck when deranged ex-manager Don Barker, who had killed Harchester icon Karl Fletcher hours earlier, drove his auto into the team coach, with all but four members of the Harchester United party dying in the crash or the ensuing fire. This led to new owners, Dragons Corporation. It was later revealed that new striker Casper Rose was actually the owner of that company and ultimately Harchester United.
This turn of events was only revealed after Rose had been killed. Before then however, Harchester United reached the League Cup final for the first time where they lost out to Chelsea.
The Dragons won the FA Cup for the second time in their history later that season with a 2–1 win over Arsenal thanks to a Darren Tyson double.
The 2006–07 season has started interestingly for the Dragons. Last season's success has paved the way for winger Ryan Naysmith to join Villarreal CF and playmaker Hector to move to Bayern Munich. Eugene Rose also sold his half of the club to Alex Rose and moved to Australia to play for Sydney FC. To replace these departures the club signed Miguel Lopez from Atlético Madrid for an undisclosed fee and Pavel Kovac from AC Milan on a free transfer. The club also gave 19-year-old midfielder Jason Porter a one-month trial as he impressed Rose during a pre season friendly which he was later offered a professional contract. Despite this promise there was the usual dark cloud over the dragon's lair. The police made Lynda Block their prime suspect in the Casper Rose murder investigation and suspect Alex Rose in assisting in the crime. Because of this Block has fled Harchester leaving Alex Rose to confess to the killing of his half brother. This was done after he ensured that the club was in the right hands as he handed the manager's job to his former teammate Jimmy Craig and the chairman's role to head of the supporters club, Terry Harrison. Jimmy Craig had to deal with the loss of Kovac as he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and could face never playing again, and that the chairman wanted a high-profile manager. Despite these problems Craig has been able to guide the dragons to a (so far) unbeaten season. He has also promoted youth and reserve team stars such as Bradley Summers, Laurent Dioup, Jamie Cheeseman and Jason Porter to the first team who have impressed. He also signed midfielder Sean Campbell from Southend United to form a midfield partnership with new captain Liam MaKay. However the team lost defender Danny Sullivan to injury which forced him to retire. As the club could see how valuable his contribution to the club has been they offered him a coaching role.
Having been revived Harchester are back in league two and hoping to climb back to the premier league but with new manager Duncan Rankin at the helm it will be a long climb back to the top having a new ground a new team a new challenge awaits for the club.
- Premier League/First Division
- Championship/Second Division
- 1898–99, 1932–33, 1957–58
- Runners-up 1968-69, 1993–94, 1996–97
- Football League Championship Play Offs
- Third Division
- 1926–27 (North)
- FA Cup
- 1999, 2006
- Football League Cup
- Runners-up 2006
- UEFA Cup
- Runners-up 2002
- FA Community Shield
- Runners-up 1999, 2006
- Harchester United official website
- HarchesterUnitedFC.com The story continues here
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