Fellow Yellows – Harrogate Town AFC

Pre-Season Friendly
Harrogate Town AFC v Barnsley FC
Saturday, 13th July 2013, 3pm
CNG Stadium, Wetherby Road
Entrance £6 (complimentary press ticket), No Programme
Distance 198 miles, Attendance 284
With a mammoth selection of yellow teams strewn across Europe, my opening destination needed to be something a bit special.  As all the options were new to me and yet, the question of kit hues so vital to this season’s planning, a few weeks back I emailed a handful of possible outfits and let fate decide.
130713 PSF Harrogate Town v Barnsley (68)wWhilst many clubs offered assistance in no time at all, one press officer was particularly helpful. With all manner of information to facilitate a trip to them, his passion for the club seeped cheerfully through his responses. Even though it wasn’t the Harrogate team Brian Pollard played for – Watford have never played either – Peter Arnett’s enthusiasm easily won me over.
Changing trains only once, the route north was fairly straightforward; out the other side of Leeds – where red brick terrace gives way to farmland punctuated by stone cottages – it was beautiful too. Whatever Peter Wylie and the KLF had recorded some years back, it was obvious they’d never stepped near this northern town.
Nearly 350 years before Harrogate AFC were founded, William Slingsby discovered the medicinal qualities of the local waters. Sited on what is now “The Stray” – a 200 acre public common – the Tewit Well lead to the town being dubbed “The English Spa” and, it needing an Act of Parliament to protect its source from its increasing popularity.
130713 PSF Harrogate Town v Barnsley (23)An enjoyable stroll from the station to Wetherby Road, takes supporters across the remarkable “Stray” and, first impressions of the stadium reveal pride equal to that of the gardeners on nearby Slingsby Walk. Whilst parking is limited, the new offices, gates, and “The 1919 Venue” function room impressively illustrate the intention that the new administration have, to make this club one of the best in the league.
Under the management of Chairman Irving Weaver’s son, Simon, the club are also demonstrating clear ambition to progress on the pitch too. With only a handful of region cup and league successes behind them, the main talking point was last season’s FA Cup achievements and going forward, a desire the build on the feel good factor it generated.
130713 PSF Harrogate Town v Barnsley (102)wFrom kick-off – even with a few new names in the squad – both in the stands and out on the newly levelled playing surface, it was apparent that this “family club” is pulling together. Barnsley had sent a young “no mugs” team north to face Town but, the home players looked determined to set the tone for the next ninety minutes.
Whilst the Tykes continually tried to split the defence with diagonal passes to the flanks, Town’s neat passing and determined defending afforded them plenty of opportunities to attack on the break. With an interesting playing history, Michael Woods is clearly a talking point however; experienced Adam Bolder was a rock in midfield, affording the younger players space to express themselves. Another fine prospect is keeper Craig MacGillivray whose superb positional play and exceptional shot-stopping kept the score level to the break.

130713 PSF Harrogate Town v Barnsley (121)w

In the second period Barnsley struck the bar but, as most of the attacking up the other end, Christian Dibble needed to be very assured to keep the Championship side in the game.
Over halftime cream teas in the Directors’ Lounge, Youth Development Manager, Garry Plant, had spoken proudly of a “real buzz” and belief about the club. It was a buzz that had been evident to me all afternoon; from the cordial stadium announcer to the boys selling popcorn in the stands. Despite finishing goalless, at the final whistle, both home management and support were clearly optimistic for the season ahead.

130713 PSF Harrogate Town v Barnsley (152)w

To find such special optimism, I’d travelled long distances in searing humidity, via a stunning aqueduct and strange place names. At the end I’d found a club where yellow and black stripes are the fans favourite and, volunteers and supporters exuded great pride. Their welcome was warm, cheerleaders called Hornets, and any isolated thunderstorms had thankfully stayed away. Given my luck, maybe there really is something in the water.

130713 PSF Harrogate Town v Barnsley (40)w

shorts league
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Initially appearing in the 2013-14 Watford FC matchday programmes, consequently these reports will have a delayed publication on here.

Fellow Yellows programme (9)

This entry was posted in 2013-2014, Conference North, Fellow Yellows, pre-season friendly and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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