Harry Sidwell (Ian Burfield)

Appeared: Dream Team 80’s Episode 1 – 2 (Sunday 21st – Sunday 28th May 2006)

Position: Harchester United Manager (1974-1985) / Harchester United Chairman (1979-1985)

 

A towering figure from the era of long-term Harchester United managers, Harry Sidwell’s arrival brought about the beginnings of what would be regarded a golden period for the club from the late 70's to mid 80's. Sidwell was appointed Harchester boss in July 1974, his first position as a manager following the end of a prosperous playing career as a West Ham defender. The fact that Harry had no previous managerial experience could have been a concern to the board hiring, as it definitely was for the club's fans. But it was never detrimental for the tough Londoner. He knew the game inside out and had a master plan to mould his players to his own successful style of play. Throughout the remainder of the 70’s, Harry’s job and reputation was secure. But Harchester was his castle and he wanted to be king. In 1979 he took full control by becoming the club’s manager-chairman, the first to begin what would become a trend at Harchester.

 

Harry had his three star players, known as Harchester’s very own Three Musketeers in the already-present Ken Hocknell and Frank Patcham, along with his proud signing Jonny Fletcher from Derby County. But as 1980 dawned, two of the greats moved on and Harry was on the lookout to keep the squad as strong as possible bolstered by some new talent. Harry had always stayed clued-up on the youth development at the club, with a solid working relationship with youth team manager Al Mackay, the two being retired footballmen. Catching the end of a youth team session, Harry challenges apprentices Mike Maynard and Terry Glover, who have been scrapping all day, to a penalty shoot-out. Harry makes a bet with Jonny for £250 that Mike will beat Terry, and when Mike wins Harry his bet, the impressed boss offers him a place training with the first team on Christmas Day. On the day, a cocky Jonny is put out injured during a game of doggies with Mike, and Harry has to make Mike a last-minute inclusion for tomorrow's game against Tottenham Hotspur. Any potential career Mike may have had under Harry ends with his debut due to a bad tackle.

 

Harry hasn't forgotten what a firecracker on the pitch Terry is, and he is the next he tries to incorporate into the first team. It starts well, but on his fourth game Terry goes against Harry's advice and has a nightmare against Wolves, resulting in him being sent off and Andy Gray scoring a hat-trick against embarrassed 10-man Harchester. Harry knows he has made the same mistake with Terry as Mike, and sends Terry back to the reserves as it has all happened too quickly for him. In early 1982, a new tide-of-change which will test Harry on his stubborn, antiquated ways and determine his future in the game comes in the form of ex-player Mike Maynard. Mike is now acting as Jonny's agent, a profession Harry refuses to recognise, and requests Jonny's pay rise by £20K and he receive goal bonuses. Harry swears he would never consider such an option, but when Mike goes through with his threat of Jonny refusing to play and how plenty of other clubs would want Jonny and agree to their terms, Harry is rattled. He needs Jonny more than he realised and he resentfully has to take the offer.

 

It is as if history has repeated in a cruel irony, with Harry unintentionally having brought Mike's playing career to an end, and Mike bringing about a change Harry cannot adapt to. By the 1984-85 season Harry is seen as yesterday's man, and he, disillusioned with the new world of football, relinquishes his Harchester throne before he is ousted, finding it too bitter to watch on as chairman and sells the club to Clive Hawes a few months later. With Harchester's triumphant Title victory just one year later it is safe to say Harry Sidwell's 11-year run got the wheels in motion for this historical win.