History of the Harps Soccer Club
Harps Soccer Club has a long and varied history beginning in 1990 when a group of Queens’ women got together in their local Sunnyside bar and decided to form a soccer team. Maureen Ennis, Una Cronin, Marie Flood, Nora McFadden and Siobhan O’Neill were part of the original squad. They wanted to include local girls who came over from Ireland and Britain in a social activity. The team was formed and named for its sponsor Stephen’s Green and entered the Bronx Women’s Soccer League in 1991 with a squad of 15 players. As one of two Queens’ teams to join the BISL they expanded league to eight teams. Stephen’s Green supported the team for five years until the bar closed in 1996, yet to have won a title.
In 1996 the team found a new home in the Claddagh. This was a break through year when the team managed to reach the Cup Final. Although beaten by Fiona’s, it was a landmark game as it was the first time a Queen’s team had reached a major final. Coaches Peter Hamill and Anto Holmes were recognized for their work by being awarded “Coach of the Year” that season.
In 1997 the team again found new sponsorship, this time at Mary Willie’s. On the field, progress continued with an appearance versus Landsdowne in the Spring League Final. Despite losing 1-0 in extra time, the team proved a force to be reckoned with.
The Starting Gate was the sponsor in 1998, but the team decided it needed more than a sponsor, it needed a name, and the Harps Soccer Club was born. That season proved to be the most successful in the history of the Club to date, achieving three finals and claiming two trophies: the Cup and both the Spring Shield.
1999 found the Harps breaking free of sponsorship. On the pitch, the team yielded even more success capturing the Spring League and Cup double and just missing the elusive treble when narrowly beaten in the Fall League Final. Hilary Potkewitz capped the success of that year when honored as Bronx League Player of the Year.
Harps’ dominance continued as they retained the Spring League Title with an unbeaten 11 game run in 2000. Sandra Swinburne, club captain, capped individual success with the top goal scorer trophy.
The year 2001 Harps re-established themselves as the number one team when they won both League Titles in convincing style. Again, the treble was just missed when they lost the Cup Final. Lisa Burke won the individual top scorer award in this year with a Club record of 17 goals in one season.
In 2002, Harps made it to the Spring League Final again, but were unsuccessful due to a difficult year where injuries, pregnancies and marriages disrupted momentum. As a result, Harps failed to live up to their high expectation during the fall season. Credit went to the remaining members of the squad as they managed to pick up the Club’s eighth trophy in five years, winning the Fall Shield.
The team has gone through several evolutions over the years, and are currently rebuilding once again. Having struggled without leadership since Peter Hamill returned to Northern Ireland in 2007, leaving Harps without the strong and dependable leadership that brought them much success and many titles.
2008-2011 was a period that Harps struggled without a coach, and missing critical players considered the foundation of the Club. And without Hamill to document the team’s achievements, much of the history during this time was not recorded.
2012 is a new era, and Harps are determined to rebuild and are eager to find their way back to the winner’s podium under the new leadership of Craig Johanson.
Harps’ Team Titles and Honors*
Peter Hamill and Anto Holmes: “Coaches of the Year”
|1997:||Summer League Finalists (finished top of the league)|
Spring Shield Winners
Ann Carr: “Top Goal Scorer” (22 goals)
|1999:||Spring League Champions
Fall League Finalists
Hilary Potkewitz: “Bronx League Player of the Year”
|2000:||Spring League Champions
Fall League Finalists
Sandra Swinburne: “Top Goal Scorer” (10 goals)
|2001:||Spring League Champions
Fall League Champions
Lisa Burke: “Top Goal Scorer”
Fall Shield Winners
|2004:||League Champions (35 points – first year w/o playoffs)
Teresa Brink: “Bronx League Defensive MVP”
Suzy Malone & Marybeth Gazlay joint League “Top Goal Scorers” (10 each)
Record Goals Scored = 74
Highest scoring game 15-0 v Chaos
Kathy Gradischer: “Bronx League Defensive MVP”
|2012||League Cup Champions|
Notes re BISL Competitions: Spring is formerly known as “Summer” and Fall as “Winter”. Up through 2002, each season had its league own winner after a play-off competition. In 2003 evolved to just one League Champion (the team finishing with the most points over spring and fall) and one Cup Champion (a knock-out competition).