Harrogate Town F.C.
|Full name||Harrogate Town Association Football Club|
|Founded||1914(as Harrogate AFC)|
|Ground||The CNG Stadium (Wetherby Road), Harrogate|
|Capacity||4,000 (500 seated)|
|League||National League North|
|2016–17||National League North, 11th of 22|
|Website||Club home page|
Harrogate Town Football Club is a professional association football club based in the spa town of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England. The club currently competes in the National League North, the sixth tier of English football.
Formed in 1914, the club is nicknamed "Town" and also the "Sulphurites", due to Harrogate's fame for its sulphur springs. The club's colours are black and yellow and they play their home games at The CNG Stadium, which has a capacity of 4,000.
The club was founded as Harrogate A.F.C. 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 finally played in their first competitive fixture on 30 August 1919 at Starbeck Lane Ground against Horsforth. 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 losing to South Kirkby Colliery 4-0 in a 1Q replay. 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 5–0 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 Hastings - this tie again finished 1–1, due to a late goal from Harrogate's Tom Platt. However, Harrogate Town lost 5–4 on penalties.
After a good start placing them in the top five towards the beginning of the season the team went on a long run of bad form. In result of that the manager Simon Weaver and others at the club decided it was time that the players at the end of the season were given full-time contracts to give them the best chance of promotion in the following years if they weren't promoted in the 2016–17 campaign.
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 4,000 of which 500 is seated. The ground is situated on the A661 Wetherby Road adjacent to Harrogate District Hospital. It now has three stands, one in the north, east and west of the ground and a bar area at the south side which also locates the clubs shop and changing rooms along with a hospitality venue in the south-east corner. It is also the home of Harrogate Town's academy who play most of their home games here. On top of that the new 3G pitch can be hired by the local community and so can the 1919 venue for business meetings, weddings and other purposes.
- As of 15 June 2017.
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
- Vice-chairman: Howard Matthews
- Managing Director: Garry Plant
- Associate director: Richard Crabb
- Commercial director: Ged Maloney
- Events director: Angus Taylor
- Club Secretary: Mike Bligh
- Head of Communications:
- Life President: George Dunnington
- Vice-president 1: David Batty
- Vice-president 2: Dave Callaghan
- Vice-president 3: Clive Dunnington
- Match Secretary: John Harrison
- Groundsmen: Jim Hague, Geoff Butler, John Fell, Iain Bullock
- Manager: Simon Weaver
- Assistant Manager: John McDermott
- Coach: Vill Powell
- Physio: Rachel Davis
- Sport psychology: Phil Lee
- Academy U21s manager: Paul Thirlwell
- Academy U17s manager: Dan Batty
- Academy secretary: Dave Riley
- Academy U19s head coach: Mike Bligh
- Academy Physio: Rachel Davis
The Harrogate Town academy has 3 age groups that are all run differently. The U17s play in their local league against amateur sides. They train like a normal academy side would at that age, playing their matches on a weekend.
The U19s is run between Harrogate College, who are based minutes away from the CNG stadium and Harrogate Town. Players will take a sports course to give them a qualification out of the process if they don't progress through to the U21s or even the first team. The players spend half of their day in college and the other half training at the CNG. Each year the U19s take part in the FA Youth cup on top of the league they also play in with matches on weekdays.
The U21s are the 1st team reserves and a stepping stone for developing players. They play against teams such as Halifax town and Garforth Town. Their manager Paul Thirlwell has recently taken a step up to the position of first team assistant manager.
- 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)
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