Reborn Harrogate Refusing To Be One Season Wonders

A year ago to the weekend, Harrogate Town really arrived on the scene.

While all the focus was on those other newboys up from the National League North, the upstarts in yellow and black glided towards top spot practically unnoticed.

It was the first weekend of October 2018, and match against Saturday's opponents Ebbsfleet United. The opening to the BBC’s match report said it all.

“Callum Howe scored his fifth goal of an impressive season as Harrogate continued to make life in the National League look easy with a 2-0 win,” it read.

Simon Weaver remembers it well. It was the day people’s lips started moving.

“I wouldn’t say easy!” he said ahead of the game with the same opposition a year on, live on BT Sport on Saturday. “But absolutely, we enjoyed those first few months of last season.

“It’s strange how this weekend we are playing Ebbsfleet a year to the day, nearly, that we played them last season. I remember thinking we belong at this level, we played very well - we made a great start.

“I suppose in a way that first year was a free-hit for us. We did fantastically well, especially for the first half of the season. It was brilliant, those first 10 to 15 games were a highlight and we exceeded all expectation placed on us.

“This year, we’re more well established. You can’t go under the radar. Now people see Harrogate Town as a good, established National League club - it's a huge compliment, but it changes the mindset.

“As soon as people started to see what we were about, we needed to be more cute.”

They enjoyed the start to the last campaign, but not the start to this one.

Some were wondering if it was a classic case of second season syndrome, take them all unawares for the first year and get found out the next.

Three wins from your first 12 shouldn’t constitute a crisis, but for a club hoping to progress it appeared a little more than teething problems.

But in this league, recoveries can be quick. Winning at neighbours FC Halifax was quickly followed up by three good points at home to Sutton United.

Now, they are within sight of the promotion places again.

“It was the Halifax result which was so big for us in so many ways,” he adds. “Maybe we suffered a little bit of a hangover from last season at the start of this one. It was difficult.

“I also look at things perhaps going for us in the first few months of last season and not this. I remember last year we beat Eastleigh 4-0 and at the time I stood on the sidelines wondering how the score got to that! We weren’t four goals better.

“But now things have settled for us. We’re getting in people’s faces again and now we’re not over complicating things, and we’re not over-thinking.”

Many expect a hat-trick of Harrogate victories against a side who haven’t enjoyed their trips north much at all for quite a while.

Weaver is wise and isn’t fooled by the Fleet’s position, second bottom of the table and already searching for survival.

“The result which really stands out for me this season is when they beat Barnet 3-0 a few weeks ago,” he said. “Make no mistake Barnet are going to be right up there this season. Look what they did to Fylde on Tuesday.

“Any side who did that to them carry a serious threat. They will be a danger, and will see this as a big opportunity. We’re under no illusions that we are going to be in a game on Saturday. The pressure will be more on us and we need to react to that.”


Where next?

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