Memory Lane – Harald
“ Stopping Rangers doing ten in a row and winning the title on the same day is probably never going to happen again. It was the most memorable day of my career. “ Harald
“If he had tucked them away then I think he would still be here and be a great hero because he is a really, really good player.” Henke
Im less than enthusiastic about following the daily internal bickering of those who aren’t doing a very good job at all within the domestic setup, plus with the big international head honcho’s having a meeting today to thrash out the date of their next meeting more or less, theres not much to report on anyhow. Sport will be waiting on medical advice, who are thinking of a lot more serious things than sport, to take their lead.
Im of the opinion this will take a while and we ain’t seeing footie until late summer.
Plenty of time then to ramble down memory lane.
When choosing the candidates for this series, as its becoming now, one usually has a good grasp on the general feeling regarding the subject ( one blip aside ) and how such a man might be regarded a little later down the line. Of course a popular figure will more likely draw more response, no doubt some seeing a few extra paragraphs as a reward for all the hard work in the Hoops. And it is by the way.
Todays figure I dont think will be judged unpopular or not a nice guy by anyone,, but with regards to his ability and rating him as a player its probably the first time I am truly stumped what kind of legacy he left. If anything I consider him overrated but it honestly wouldn’t be surprised to read the opposite in many comments.
I recall hearing the tale big Wim wanted a striker and approached the board to talk turkey only to be informed they already had someone for him. In the board’s defence if that yarn holds some truth you can see why they would have been seduced by the highlight reel and felt they were onto something. Their opinion on the player that emerged would be interesting.
2.3 million isnt the biggest fee but its far from the smallest either. He actually scored in a Rosenborg win over Real Madrid before hopping on the plane from Norway to sign up, just to heap a little more expectation on those shoulders. To come in half way through a must win, absolutely must win, season is hard enough for anyone Im sure you would agree.
He was brought in to play alongside Henke, and only later would many know just how fortunate you truly were in that case. A pure team player he was unselfish to a fault, and on paper this either could or should have went on to become a dream pairing. The workhorse with the vision and pass to match feeding the edge of the shoulder whippet to tear away with Olympic quality pace and half scare the goalie to death.
That happened often enough, but not with the preferred result, or perhaps it just felt that way. Yet our ex striking legend claims he was one of the best he played with, and he’s a man I take at his word, thus the enigma around Harald just deepens.
That first season, well half season, he played 21 times scoring 10.
To many eyes a one in two ratio for a striker is satisfactory but those facts don’t really tell the whole story . My father was firmly ensconced in the Jock every home game giving me the lowdown, raised eyebrows and a soft shake of the head with how many chances he had blown.
So when I hear he bagged all four against Killie and Im looking forward to giving out a bit of a ribbing only to be told ‘Scored four and missed four’ !
Without that four those stats wouldn’t be easy to pass off as fine, especially as Henriks partner.
There’s one more obvious reason why he seems to have gotten pass marks for that year. He scored the clincher that stopped their ten which will always be his claim to fame. But even at that the keeper still gets a hand to it despite being clean through with the entire goal at his mercy, and not many in that crowd would have stuck the mortgage on him burying it.
One of the first things old Martin Tyler says when the ball hits the net is he’s been much maligned this season. Hardly the fans fault.
Still, many will probably be thinking of that goal when looking back at his spell with us, and probably see the fee as entirely worth it to stop them. It was to me.
I must hold my hands up and state Im not the biggest fan of his style of striker for a few reasons. I’ve rarely if ever seen a player that had both the explosive pace and a great finish, so Harald is far from the exception, and I just dont think we are the club to carry that player.
The pitches up north tend to be on the not so great side which means ruts and divots galore, hardly conducive to the through and one touch finish.
Then we have the linesmen who we later found out couldn’t keep up with a less pacey Robbie Keane, although I was working my socks off at the time and not sure if this was much of an issue for Harald then.
And then there’s the misses.
When clean through a goal is expected and every miss is amplified more than normal plus it really gives the opposition and its fans some hope, and a jeers target.
You’ll recall Gordon attempted this experiment and abandoned it after half a season in the shape of Kenny Miller who on his last appearance was put through 7 times in a row and failed to score with any. That cost Gordon his clipboard and Kenny his Celtic career.
Many managers just won’t tolerate a striker taking consistently more than two chances to score and will forgo pace if it means a higher chance to goal ratio.
Harald, its fair to say, wouldn’t be every manager’s cup of tea and I could never see him working out for Martin O’Neill for instance. The fact he was jettisoned immediately suggests our ex gaffer felt the same.
So our bhoy entered his second season in fairly neutral territory, not wrote off yet, and a new management team arrives after Wim decides that board aint for me.
The travelled and respected by many Dr. Jo and company gave him 34 appearances during that season, a fair crack of the whip Im sure you would agree. They were repaid with a scant 8 goals which is in no way shape or form good enough for a leader of the line at the domestic Champions. In addition to this the fans soon had a new favourite son up top with a completely different style who had waltzed in and gelled with the dreadlocked one much better than Harald had. He had stolen the show at Ibrox and was clearly now a favourite of the boss, fans, and squad.
Lubo was the writing on the wall for Mr Brattback.
In one very unusual job switch the man himself now flies as a commercial pilot out of Trondheim, imagine hearing ‘This is Captain Brattback speaking !’.
He has spoken very very warmly of his time among us and was infact the record scorer in the Norweigan league until recently with a very respectable 166 total goals in three separate spells with what seems his true love, Rosenborg.
But every rose has its thorn and he just had to come back and bite us on the bum twice when our sides met in 2001, which again just adds to the mystique considering that was a formidable Martin team then.
I guess its fair to say we got a good deal out of him overall with a crucial priceless goal, a medium fee and a small fee recouped. Nothing ventured, nothing gained rings true on this occasion.
The fact he really only found his scoring boots whilst at home, still works and resides there today, tell’s me he’s just not made for travel and truly home is where the heart is in this case.
There’s many a man of the same persuasion out there and I wouldn’t be too quick to judge as it takes every type of person to make the world go round as the old song says.
He pulled on that shirt and lived the dream, and well he knows it, leaves us with a league winners medal that money couldn’t buy. I cant rate him near the top of the best strikers list but he certainly wouldn’t be at the bottom, and he does have the endorsement of a true legend to frame on the wall alongside that precious medal.
Harald my bhoy, thanks for the memories.
The above is by Mahe. Composing an article for ‘that sports blog’ is actually a valid waste of time in these circumstances and may actually make you seem sophisticated. Or just get you out of their way for a while. Help us help you.