Journeyman: A worker or sports player who is reliable but not outstanding
We have three players in our Premier League Journeyman XI so far, and our next pick might feel hard done by finding himself in the lineup having amassed 89 caps for his country and played for 5 different Premier League clubs. Unfortunately, he suffered relegation with all 5. Welcome aboard, Hermann Hreidarsson.
I don’t want to get into the habit of just picking players who got relegated a lot, but I guess the nature of the beast is that average players move to average clubs and eventually average clubs are relegated. The circle of life, if you will. Believe me when I say I really didn’t want to pick Hermann, his surname is really annoying to type out but he fits the bill for this team, which is looking a bit top heavy with forwards. It’s time for some Icelandic steel.
Hreidarsson is a centre back or left back who first appeared in the Premier League in 1997, having been lured from IBV in his native Iceland by Crystal Palace manager Steve Coppell. It was Palace’s first season back in the Premier League and when you think Neil Shipperley was the top scorer with 7 league goals, it’s really somewhat of a miracle that they got 33 points. Coppell lasted until March, to be briefly replaced by the mad-cap duo Attilio Lombardo and Thomas Brolin, but shockingly that didn’t work and relegation soon followed. Hreidarsson though was one of the brighter lights, even managing to give his side the lead at Stamford Bridge. It is irrelevant that they went on to lose 6-2.
What do you do when you decide Division 1 isn’t for you? Well you drop down to Division 3 of course. Former Palace Chairman Ron Noades had rocked up as Brentford’s Chairman/Manager (that old job share) and saw fit to spend a club record £750,000 on Double H. With that kind of foresight, Brentford won Division 3 and Hermann’s performances had not gone unnoticed.
In October 1999, Wimbledon had Norwegian Egil Olsen in charge and had one league win to their name when Hreidarsson arrived for £2.5m. They finished with a mighty 7 wins and suffered relegation on the final day of the season as Bradford defied the odds to stay up at the Dons’ expense. On the plus side, Rodney Marsh lost a bet and was shaved bald. Anyway, Hermann netted once, in a home draw with West Ham, but no win in the final 10 games consigned his side to Division One.
Hreidarsson did enough to avoid such a fate though, as newly promoted Ipswich shelled out £4.5m for his services. Remarkably, George Burley’s men not only survived relegation but positively laughed in its face, as the Tractor Boys soared to a fifth place finish and UEFA Cup qualification. Hreidarsson started all but three games and was set to play European football for the first time.
Highs and Lows
Hreidarsson certainly mode the most of his first European adventure, playing all six games and even getting on the scoresheet in Sweden as Ipswich saw off Helsingborg. A historic 1-0 over Inter Milan at Portman Road was sadly followed by a 4-1 demolition in the San Siro, leaving Hreidarsson and his team mates to battle relegation. Having won only won league cup prior to their UEFA Cup exit, 7 wins in 8 around Christmas seemed to have steadied any thoughts of relegation before 1 win in the final 13 saw Hreidarsson suffer his third relegation from the Premier League. Hermann played all 38 games, which I’m sure is just coincidental. Burley was sacked in October after a bad start to life in Division 1, with Joe Royle eventually taking over. Financial constraints meant many key players were sold, and come March 2003 it was time for the next chapter in Hreidarsson’s career, as Charlton paid £800k for his services.
Curb your Enthusiasm
Alan Curbishley had done a great job of stabilising Charlton Athletic as a Premier League club and Hreidarsson became a mainstay of the team after making his debut at the beginning of the 03/04 season. Indeed, Charlton mixed it with the top teams for much of the season before eventually finishing 7th, but missing out on European football. The highlight of the season was a 4-2 win over Chelsea on Boxing day, with our man Hermann scoring inside the opening 45 seconds.
That was as good as it got for Charlton and Hreidarsson, with 2004/05 and 2005/06 seeing midtable finishes. But still, Charlton weren’t going to be relegated, so this was wonderful for Hreidarsson. It all got a bit much for Curbs, who decided to leave Charlton after 10 years as manager, fluttering his eyelashes at the FA as he went. With that though went any notion of stability. Iain Dowie arrived for a few months but was stereotypically hopeless, Les Reed lasted a month before they settled for the ultimate nail in the coffin and appointed Alan Pardew. Relegation followed, and Hreidarsson was on the move again. Still, his time at Charlton would have to be considered a success as he played over 30 games in every season.
Success at last
The 2007/08 season was a remarkable one for Portsmouth Football Club. Not because they signed our hero Double H, but they were involved in some ridiculous games and won the FA Cup. It’s not a fondly remembered final, as Portsmouth beat First Division Cardiff 1-0 thanks to a Kanu goal, but Hreidarsson played the full game and isn’t that all that really matters? Their regular league season wasn’t bad either, finishing 8th and being involved in the highest scoring match in Premier League history. A match so big, it has its own Wikipedia page. Yes, Portsmouth 7 – 4 Reading will live long in the memory, and what’s more, Hreidarsson scored, so here’s the goals!
It turned out buying success had repercussions though, and with Portsmouth’s finances creaking, Harry Redknapp departed for Tottenham, Tony Adams took over and failed until Paul Hart came in to save the day. 2009/10 though proved to be a disaster, however. Despite Paul Hart being sacked and being replaced by Avram Grant, Portsmouth were relegated and deducted points for entering administration. The one chink of light was their FA Cup run, which saw a spirited journey to the final only to lose to Chelsea. Sadly for Hreidarsson, a serious achilles tendon injury curtailed his season in March and meant he missed the FA Cup final.
Hreidarsson returned to fitness and signed a new one year deal with Portsmouth, but his top flight days were over. A very short spell at Coventry followed before retiring to Iceland to see out his playing days and move into management.
And that ladies and gentleman is Hermann Hreidarsson’s top flight career. Having made 500 league appearances though it is obvious that he was an excellent professional and a very capable defender, who was unfortunate to suffer relegation on so many occasions. We trust the same won’t happen to us though, welcome to the team!