The Rise of Larne United: A Dylan Campbell Story

Mar 24, 2014
Chapter One

The chain of events leading up to the formation of Larne United began near the end of the 2012/13 season. Blue Square Premiership side Wrexham was entering large debts of up to ?10 million and were forced to enter administration and ultimately declare bankruptcy. The fall of a club is always sad, as the entire legacy of that club is washed away in a single moment.

There was now a space needed to fill the 24-team Blue Square Premiership. There was several bids that came in, but the most impressive one was from a consortium based in a small town in Northern Ireland called Larne. The owners of this new project, Larne United, said that their project had been funded by the Northern Irish government.

It was a big success as the owners finally persuaded the Blue Square Premiership and the Football Association to let them in. The fundamental problems was that the team had barely any players. The owners, however, signed most of the Wrexham players that had left during the administration crisis.

Most of the players did not adapt very well to Larne. There was a nice beach three miles north called Ballygally. Many of the players went there in the summer to relax and have ice-cream at the shop just across the road. The owners, meanwhile, had a task on their hands. They had bought Larne Football Club and had secured the services of the stadium Inver Park, which began immediate refurbishment during the summer months.

By the start of the season, Inver Park was a 15,000 capacity stadium. The owners were also looking for a fresh young manager who was local and was ambitious. The IFA (Irish Football Association) suggested a young lad called Dylan Campbell. He was a young shy lad who had worked as a coach for the Manchester United Under-18s
and had since worked for the IFA as a coach.

Days after his appointment, the owners of Larne United changed hands into a Middle Eastern consortium of businessmen, who made their fortune on oil and gas in the deserts of the Middle East. Immediately, at least ?20 million was injected into the budget.

Larne United began their summer business. A young English lad released from the Liverpool academy called Luke English was snapped up on a free transfer on a ?250 contract. His pace, power and finishing was unparallel and he was immediately placed in the first team.

They then pushed to sign a left winger. The best fit was 26-year old Argentinian Dario Bottinelli, from Desportivo Brasil in the Brazillian leagues. He was a tricky winger with decent technical abilities and bags of talent and potential. Then a marque Premier League signing was secured as veteran defender Mike Williamson joined from Newcastle. He was a great tackler and header and was perfectly utilized into the formation.

When the season began, Larne United blossomed and by mid-season, took a considerable lead at the table and was cruising at the FA Trophy and had just been knocked out by a solitary goal from League 1 side Tranmere Rovers.

By the end of the year, Larne United was in the Football League, had won the FA Trophy and had signed large amounts of experienced players such as Jermaine Jenas and Esteban Cambiasso. These players helped to feed the hungry war machine of Larne United.

The success of the team brought widespread attention to the town of Larne, which was investing large amounts of money in helping the team continue its path further up the lower tiers of English football. Campbell had recently guided Larne United to the Capital One Cup final where they lost 3-2 on away goals to Chelsea.

Whilst in League 1, they won the FA Cup defeating Manchester City 2-0 on extra-time. The rise of this team was unparalleled. Until pre-season before the Championship.

Within weeks, Luke English and another player, the Senegalese centre-back Aboudalaye have signed for Liverpool and Olympique de Marseille respectively. The reason is that both players had big club release clauses that were activated once a European club bidded.

English left for ?12 million, Aboudalaye a little less than that. But fresh new talent was signed. The French-Malian striker Moussa Dembele signed from Fulham for ?10 million and an array of centre-backs from the French leagues at teams such as Paris Saint-Germain. Two wingers that were quick, pacy and ice-cool in front of the goal. Luis Alberto from Liverpool and Joel Campbell from Arsenal. The combined fee for the pair was at least ?25 million.

This new young team slumped in the opening months, leading Alan Hansen to once again make that famous quote: "You can't win anything with kids!". By the end of the year, once again, old Alan was proved wrong. A Championship title, reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League by beating Sevilla and Lyon on their path and securing Premier League promotion.

At that point, Larne United were tipped to become English champions before long.
Mar 24, 2014
PRE-SEASON 2017/18

Larne United strengthen their side in the summer with two new signings: Ivorian poacher Sekou N'Guessan for a bargain value of ?4 million. He has lightning pace and is an expert dribbler. He's not hard to knock off the ball and had spent 12 months plying his trade in the German first division for European qualifiers Schalke 04.

Another signing from the German leagues was Niklas Sule from Hoffenheim for ?11 million. He is a strong, pacy, endurant, courageous and bright defender. He is the highest earner at the club with ?140,000 a week. Many of the players like Dembele and Campbell earn half that value.

The season began with a 3-2 loss to mid-table Southampton with N'Guessan and Dembele scoring one each. Then a deserved 1-1 draw with Chelsea followed as a defensive masterclass from Sule and Tom Da Costa prevented Chelsea and Jose Mourinho from winning.

Then a 2-1 win over Tottenham and an away 4-1 crushing of West Brom proved that Larne United were not relegaiton favourites. They have been positive and are in the top four of the league so far. Larne United look positively for the future results that they have been craving for however there are several top-class teams that have the ability to dispatch Larne United.
Mar 24, 2014

Larne United finish a respectable 2nd place and win both the FA and League Cups, both finals were against a hapless Arsenal, still trying to end a 13-year drought. Moussa Dembele has improved further since joining Larne United last year and Sekou N'Guessan has had a shaky start so far. Chelsea won another title under Jose Mourinho, who still has an ageing squad with the exception of several young players breaking into the first-team.