Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Cack-Handed Away Guide XI: HARROGATE TOWN FC.


Harrogate Town AFC
CNG Stadium
Wetherby Road
North Yorkshire

Town, The Sulphurites

But we call them

Harrogant (6th)

Billy basics

Manager: Simon Weaver
Founded: 1907/1914/1919/1935/1946
2010/11: 12th, Conf North
2009/10: 21st, Conf North
2008/09: 9th, Conf North
Highest position: 2005/06: 5th, Conf North
Average attendance 2010/11: 295

Who are Harrogant?

The Harrogate Town engine took some winding-up (ha) to properly start. Initially, football in Harrogate went little beyond a "Hey, we should toedully set up a football team sometime!" at some pub in 1907. In 1914, the same bloke threw down his pint and insisted, "No, seriously." Sadly, he wasn't fully heard, muffled by the rallying call to arms for the First World War and a generation of healthy young men was thrown to the floor. Five years later, the bloke sought out a place where he would finally be heard and in May 1919, Harrogant AFC became a reality in what is now Betty's Tea Rooms. 
Harrogant became an established force in various regional leagues from the off this time, soon settling in at Wetherby Road, where they remain to this day. Early success brought them the West Riding County Cup twice in a row; not the farcical, loss-making enterprise it is now however as victory meant parades, processions and parties, where "respectable law abiding citizens became raving lunatics for the moment." To this day, you have to be a raving lunatic to stand in the rain at Ossett with other assorted lowly beings, spilt mushy peas and expired chunks of meat. A sudden lack of interest saw the club meet its fate in 1932. In 1935, a set-up known as Harrogate Hotspurs were half-decent enough to unofficially replace the old Harrogate team, before another generation was lost to gunfire in the Second World War.

The return to Wetherby Road came after the War, "Hotspurs" becoming "Town" a couple of years later. Finally perfectly formed, they joined the Yorkshire League from the West Riding one in 1957 and traipsed its three divisions before becoming founding members of the Northern Counties East League, reaching its top tier in 1986 and finding election to the Northern Premier League the season after. With floodlights already built and a new main stand on the horizon, Harrogant had designs on the non-league pyramid. But nowt really happened until the noughties . . .


Under Neil Aspin (now what happened to that guy?), Harrogant finished first in the Northern Premier League Division 1 North, winning the West Riding County Cup, which they won again in 2003, bagging a place in the First Round of the FA Cup along the way. In 2004 the Conference North was formed and Harrogant were part of it, Aspin bringing them a 6th place in the first season, a 5th the following season (bowing out in the play-offs to Scaffold Rangers), and grabbed two further 6ths. The First Round of the FA Cup came again in 2005, and the West Riding Cup yet again in 2008 if that counts for anything. Aspin mysteriously vanished in 2009. No-one knows why, no-one knows where he went and no-one knows when he'll come up. Harrogant finished bottom the following season and were due to be relegated, but Northwich Victoria weren't deemed solvent enough to remain a Conference North outfit, so they were thrown overboard instead.

The ground

Sources 1 2 3
It's a small 'un, despite probably edging it over Disguiseley's park. Of course, Aspin will remind us that he won't be coming back here with any sentimental thoughts and the only thing we'll have to truly conquer is the notorious Wetherby Road slope. Having seen Radcliffe's toboggan-worthy incline and Clitheroe's quarter-pipe however, we shouldn't find it too much of a challenge.

The town

Many of us should remember Harrogate from watching Harrogate Railway Athletic, the fourth biggest team in neighbouring Starbeck. Harrogate is much like a Cheltenham of the north, a spa town considered by the same types of people as a decent place to live. Leave your chin at home and convince the missus you've gone all posh.
Trains go from Leeds.

Will we need to segregate?

If their fans eat too many teacakes on the way here, then yes.

Where should the Shaymen drink away their misery? Tell us by leaving a comment.


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