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Dublin: 6°C Tuesday 11 May 2021

Wes Hoolahan, Pat Fenlon and Karl Fletcher: Relive Harchester United and Shelbourne's epic 'Uefa Cup' tie

It may have been fake, but the emotions we felt during Harchester United vs Shelbourne were real.

This guy was the only person associated with Harchester United that wasn't killed in a bus crash.
This guy was the only person associated with Harchester United that wasn't killed in a bus crash.
Image: EMPICS Sports Photo Agency

IT WAS SHELBOURNE legend Dessie Baker’s birthday today so what better time to revisit the role he and the club played in a star-studded ‘Uefa Cup’ qualifier against Harchester Untied during the 2001/2002 season. Shelbourne had quality in the likes of youngster Wes Hoolahan, veteran Pat Fenlon and the two Baker’s, Richie and Dessie.

But on paper, they had no chance to compete with the galacticos of whatever part of England Harchester United were  meant to be from. The fictional side from Sky One’s Dream Team had quality all over the pitch. They had Jamie Parker in goal (who missed this fixture, likely because of a sex/gambling scandal and who was later tragically gunned down by police after taking his team hostage before a crunch game).

dream team Harchester's starting XI for their dramatic Tolka Park tussle with Shelbourne.

They had midfield steel in Stevie Shaw (killed in a bus crash), and a mouthwatering front three of Karl Fletcher (ladies man and all-round club legend who was unfortunately murdered in the changing room by manager Don Barker years later), Monday Bandele (absconded to Turkey, probably because so many of the club’s players were incinerated in the aforementioned bus crash) and Danny Rawstorne (young hotshot who was another one of the deceased following that traumatic accident).

After getting a valuable away goal in a 1-1 draw in Harchester, Shelbourne only needed to keep a clean sheet to progress. But as you can see here, Fletch and the rest of the Dragons had other ideas.

Source: harchesterutdfc/YouTube

What. A. Game. That is what great European nights are about. Like Mayo on Sunday, the boys from Harchester showed great heroism to overcome the early red from Belanov.

And what about Fletch’s bottle, first to slam home the all-important away goal and then to dust himself off after that atrocious penalty kick to score in the shoot-out.

What made Fletcher’s performance even more admirable was that he was going through “personal problems”, as referenced by the commentator. In this case, “personal problems” mean “being accused of murdering the club owner when your lover is actually to blame”. You also have the irony of Gray and Keys acting on a show involving people in football who are repeatedly involved in scandal.

Great show, great occasion and most importantly, it gave Shelbourne valuable European experience that they used to go on that Champions League qualifier run years later.

Of course, it would be remiss to talk about Harchester without mentioning heartthrob Luis Amor Rodriguez and chairman’s wife/chairwoman/lover of multiple players Linda Block. Instead of rehashing their whirlwind romance, I’ll just leave this here. They are doing this in front of Jerry Block, no less.

Source: harchesterutdfc/YouTube

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