Harrogate Town F.C.
|Full name||Harrogate Town Association Football Club|
|Founded||1914 (as Harrogate AFC)|
|Ground||Wetherby Road, Harrogate|
|Capacity||3,800 (500 seated)|
|2013–14||Conference North, 9th|
Harrogate Town Association Football Club is an English semi-professional association football club based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. The club was founded in 1914 and currently competes in the Conference North division of the Football Conference.
The club was founded as Harrogate AFC in 1914. Previously the town of Harrogate had tried to put together a football team as far back as 1907 but nothing emerged until 1914. They were entered into the Northern League upon their year of founding, and were set to play their home fixtures at the County Ground. However, due to the First World War all fixtures were postponed.
After the First World War ended, a meeting was held around the idea of putting the club back together. A man named Robert Ackrill Breare instigated this, and he later became the Secretary of the club. Harrogate were entered into the West Riding League.
Harrogate AFC finally played in their first competitive fixture on 30 August 1919 at Starbeck Lane Ground against Horsforth FC. They won the game 1–0 and the scorer was L. Craven with a headed goal. They were entered into the FA Cup the same year. Harrogate also won their first trophy; the Whitworth Cup with a 4–0 victory against Ripon City.
For the 1920–21 season they were one of the founding teams in the new Yorkshire League, yet they also continued to field a team in the West Riding League. The club had relocated to a new ground; Wetherby Road. Around the holiday periods, they took part in friendlies against higher league opposition including Liverpool at their Anfield ground, and another at fellow Yorkshire side Sheffield United in front of 15,000 fans.
They moved league once again for their third season, leaving the West Riding League and moving into the Midland Football League. It included the reserve teams of Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley. The club remained in the Yorkshire League, fielding a reserve team. However, the club resigned from the Midland's league after only one season and reverting to fielding a first team in the Yorkshire League. The West Riding County Challenge Cup was won by Harrogate in 1925, with their 3–1 victory against Fryston Colliery at Elland Road.
League victory was secured in 1926–27, as Harrogate became the Yorkshire League champions, with Bob Morphet scoring 44 goals. The club then moved into the Northern League. Their second West Riding County Challenge Cup was won the same season against Selby Town. The team disbanded in 1932.
Climbing the pyramid
The town's club was brought back in 1935 as Harrogate Hotspurs. After the Second World War, the club was renamed as Harrogate Town and played in the West Yorkshire League. Harrogate Town joined the Yorkshire League again in 1957. They spent many years in the Yorkshire Leagues during the 1960s and 1970s, and then became a founding member of the new Northern Counties East Football League in 1982. The club was looking to climb the newly instated football pyramid and so began to improve their ground, installing floodlights. They played a friendly to mark the occasion against Leeds United, with Eddie Gray being the first to switch the lights on.
After a West Riding County Cup win in 1986, and five seasons in the Northern Counties East League, they became founding members of the Northern Premier League First Division in 1987–88, after having been invited to join the new league. In 1990 the club became a Limited Company to fund the construction of a new main stand, and in the same year the club won the Northern Premier League First Division Cup. They would spend fifteen seasons in this league, and on two occasions the club only narrowly avoided relegation back to the Northern Counties East League. However, they won promotion to the Premier Division in 2001–02 after finishing as champions. During their first season in that division they finished sixth, and for the first time in the club's history they reached the first round of the FA Cup, losing 5–1 to Farnborough Town of the Football Conference. Town also won the West Riding County Cup in both the 2001–02 and 2002–03 seasons.
After finishing fifth in the Premier Division in 2003–04, the club became founders of the newly established Conference North in 2004. During their FA Cup run in the 2005–06 season, Harrogate were drawn to play away at Torquay United, their first ever cup game against Football League opposition. After drawing 1–1 at Plainmoor, they lost 6–5 on penalties after a 0–0 draw in the replay. At the end of the season the club finished fifth and qualified for the promotion play-offs, but lost 1–0 to eventual winners Stafford Rangers.
At the end of the 2009–10 season the club finished bottom of the Conference North and were due to be relegated. However, after Northwich Victoria were demoted due to financial problems, the club were reprieved.
Before the start of the 2011–12 season, Bill Fotherby handed control of the club to Irving Weaver, father of manager Simon, Tad Nowakowski, father of player Adam, also joined the board to help improve community links. The 2011–12 season ended in a relegation dogfight, Harrogate saved on the last day thanks to a 4–0 away win at Corby.
The 2012–13 season saw the team's best ever run in the FA Cup. On 3 November 2012 they beat League Two team Torquay United 1–0 to go beyond the first round for the first time. They drew Hastings United in the second round. The tie finished 1–1, with a replay being played at Hasting's this tie again finished 1–1, due to a late goal from Harrogate player Tom Platt. However, Harrogate lost 5–4 on penalties.
The club play at Wetherby Road, also known as the CNG Stadium for sponsorship purposes. Opened on 28 August 1920, it has a capacity of 3,800 of which 500 is seated.
- As of 07 July 2014.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Board of directors
- Chairman: Irving Weaver
- Deputy chairman: Andrew Thirkill
- Vice-chairman: Howard Matthews
- Managing Director: Garry Plant
- Associate director: Richard Crabb
- Associate director: Ged Maloney
- Marketing director: Angus Taylor
- Life President: George Dunnington
- Vice-president 1: David Batty
- Vice-president 2: Dave Callaghan
- Vice-president 3: Clive Dunnington
- Press Officer (Programme Editor/Webmaster/Official Club Photographer): Peter Arnett
- Away Match Photographer/Social Media Live Updates: Craig Hurle
- Manager: Simon Weaver
- Assistant Manager: John McDermott
- Physio: Rachel Davies
- Sport psychology: Phil Lee
- Northern Premier League
- Division One champions 2001–02
- Division One Cup winners 1989–90
- Yorkshire League
- Champions 1926–27
- Division Two champions 1981–82
- West Riding County Challenge Cup
- Winners 1925–26, 1926–27, 1962–63, 1972–73, 1985–86, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2007–08
- Whitworth Cup
- Winners 1919–20
- FA Cup best performance: second round proper replay (2012–13)
- FA Trophy best performance: third round proper replay (1999–2000)
- FA Vase best performance: fourth round (1989–90)