Rovers fans will recognise a familiar name in the Harrogate line-up (though ineligible on Saturday). Josh March was signed on loan from Rovers in January this year. Josh was brought in by Harrogate as a back-up to Jack Muldoon, Harrogate’s main striker, who is now in his 3rd season with the club. Muldoon is again their top goal-scorer this season with 12 league goals in his 29 appearances. But Josh has made his mark with 5 goals in the games he has played for Harrogate so far. Maybe a relief that he’s ineligible on Saturday.
Josh’s initial time at TiNL was badly hampered by Covid and by injury, and that limited him to just 5 appearances for Rovers. This spell in Harrogate looks as though it may be becoming a terrific kick-start for his career and is, of course, the chance to play more regular first team football.
Harrogate’s first season in League 2 has proved very good so far. They lie in 10th place, just 6 points off the play-off places. Achieving the play-offs may be a step too far for the club this season, but with 7 wins and 3 losses in their last 10 games, they are on something of a run!
A disappointing recent away loss at Stevenage is something they and Rovers have in common! Six of Harrogate’s last eight games have finished with a 1-0 scoreline (2 of them losses, 4 of them wins) – a 3-1 defeat away to Scunthorpe and a 3-0 home win against Colchester interrupted this unusual run.
It looks as though Harrogate play with more freedom away from home than they do at Wetherby Road. They have scored 24 goals away from home (23 conceded), whereas at home they have only managed 15 (15 conceded).
The reverse fixture on December 5th saw Rovers take all the points, courtesy of a Jamille Matt goal in the 57th minute.
Simon Weaver became manager of Harrogate Town in May 2009. Irving Weaver, his property magnate father, then bought the club in 2011. In 2011 the club had sold 7 season tickets for the season (they’re up to nearer 1000 now). At that same time they only narrowly managed to escape relegation from the National League North due to financial irregularities elsewhere.
Three years ago they became a full-time professional team, and in May 2018 won promotion to the National League by beating Brackley Town 3-0 in the play-off final.
Two years later, in August 2020, Harrogate were in the National League play-offs after the season was curtailed. They went on to beat Notts County 3-1 in the final at Wembley and won promotion to the EFL for the first time in their history – the EFL’s newest member!
A new stand had to be built to increase capacity to 5000 and bring their Wetherby Road ground (the Envirovent Stadium) up to EFL standards. They played their first few EFL home games at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium while their own synthetic 3G pitch was being replaced with grass.
Harrogate Town have been around for over 100 years (since 1914 in fact) but, until this season, have always played non-league football. Harrogate are known as the ‘Town’ or the ‘Sulphurites’ due to the town’s famous sulphur springs.
Harrogate is in North Yorkshire, just east of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. For 3 consecutive years (2013-2015) polls voted the town “the happiest place to live in Britain”. The spa waters helped to establish Harrogate as a tourist destination and a very wealthy town. It is generally considered to be the most expensive place to live in the North of England.