Left Back: Ian Harte
Ian Harte is a sinister fucker with ridiculous hair. I imagine that every Christmas, over turkey or whatever, he gloats about how he’s more renowned than his cousin and forerunner, Gary Kelly. During the late 90’s, there was a spell where Harte, a mere youth team prospect at Leeds, was just known as the younger one of those Irish fullbacks. And then an auntie died. Rather than going home for the funeral, Harte stayed in Yorkshire, taking up the position left by Kelly as he flew home to grieve, as a normal person might have done. He took the chance, and spent the next couple of years dividing opinion on the terraces as to whether he was an utter liability or a god.
If you were an actual, paid, proper journo, you might want to make a connection between the clinical dedication to advancing his own petty football career with the dead eyed manner in which Harte despatches free kicks. You might even make a poor joke about the link between someone dying and the fact that it helped to bring to prominence a man who specialises in dead balls. But that would be horrible.
Instead, it’s best to dwell on how completely one sided his early days as a professional were. The fact that his ability to pump a 30 yarder into the bottom corner meant George Graham, David O’ Leary or whatever hangdog middle aged wannabe had been given the Leeds hot seat couldn’t do the decent thing and drop him. Though that doesn’t explain why Seth Johnson was on 70 fucking grand a week.
Just as that particularly gravy train crashed and burnt and everyone who doesn’t support Leeds revelled in the death of a club that even the supporters can agree has been somewhat of a blight on football, Harte went to Spain. Maybe he had another funeral to dodge, or maybe he was hoping that he would be far enough away from his Irish homeland to not have to go to anymore funerals. It is ridiculous how much of that man’s life is dictated by the deaths of those that he should be closest to.
Following a few sun drenched years of getting Tim Stannard a couple of extra freelance jobs, he returned to these shores, actually looking like a decent defender. Now at Reading, he probably texts Gary Kelly on the way to matches, taking the piss out of the fact that he’s still got a career. But if he manages to put one away against your team next season, or even if you’re somehow linked with a transfer for his aging bones this season, remember: his whole career was built on the fact that he has the emotional mindset of the killer and the hairstyle of a shit boyband member. That and his ‘decent left peg’.