Kenny Bruce (Tim Dantay)

Appeared: Dream Team 80’s Episode 3 (Sunday 4th June 2006)

Position: Harchester United Manager (1985-1990)

 

Kenny Bruce was a likeable guy who got on well with his players. Seemingly a happily married family man, he is appointed Harchester United manager in June 1985 succeeding long-time stalwart Harry Sidwell. Kenny's appointment comes at a time when Harchester are in the healthiest of positions; the team are contenders for their first ever Title win, he has fresh talent recently added to the first team and one of these, Kevin Nelson, has potential to become an England international. And the new world of mid-80's football brings with it Harchester's sponsorship deal with electronic giants Dream Inc.

 

Although Kenny has a common enemy in Kevin's agent Mike Maynard, who also was a thorn in the side of his predecessor Sidwell. Kenny finds a great position for Kevin on the pitch, in the hole behind an upfront Jonny Fletcher. Mike is against this as he believes Kevin's best chance of making the England team and thus a lucrative move to Barcelona is for him to play on the left. Terry Glover, who arrived from the reserves with Kevin the season before Kenny's arrival, is Bruce's captain, hot-headed in his youth but now a mature leader. Terry shares Kenny's belief that Harchester can make it to and win the League final, and will ensure that the dressing room does not lose this ambition, an attitude Kenny is proud of. Mike is not prepared for things to not go his way, and has secretive meetings with the press in which for dirt on Kenny he informs them of Barcelona being interested in Kevin. Mike learns of how Kenny has been cautioned twice for curb crawling, a habit his wife has no idea about. Mike pays Kenny a visit at his home, resorting to blackmail that his secret will come out unless he plays Kevin on the left.

 

The Title decider goes down to the final game of the season in May 1986, with Harchester and Everton vying for the top spot. On this day, Kenny makes the potentially destructive decision, forced by Mike's hand, to play Kevin on the left in order to save his marriage and reputation. The team are mystified, and it causes ructions between Kenny and Terry, so Kevin decides to play as normal in the hole against his manager’s instruction for the good of the team. This makes Mike think Kenny is going against him, and at half time he storms into the dressing room to tell Kenny he is on his way to see his wife! Now knowing he’d been blackmailed, the team get behind Kenny, and Terry gives an inspirational team talk. The lads go out and are aided by a last-minute penalty, which secures them their first ever Title win, and Kenny Bruce is the hero who took them there.

 

The 1986-87 season, although following the Dragons’ victory, and with the return to the team of club legend Frank Patcham plus Terry committing his long-term future to the club, begins a long run of bad luck for the Dragons, with the departure of Kevin, plus Jonny Fletcher breaking his leg. The team go from the top of Division 1 all the way down to Division 2 by the end of the season, where they yo-yo between for the rest of Kenny's time at the club. Ultimately, it is not a run of poor results, or even his curb-crawling but an affair with one of his player's wives that sees Kenny forced out of the club in January 1990. He goes abroad to manage in France, while Kenny's Assistant Steve Tomkin becomes Harchester's new manager.