Five decades of Harrogate football loyalty rewarded

(l-r) Neil Sullivan, Chairman Irving Weaver and Johnny Walker. Picture: Peter Arnett (s).
(l-r) Neil Sullivan, Chairman Irving Weaver and Johnny Walker. Picture: Peter Arnett (s).
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Harrogate Town stalwart Johnny Walker, who has served the club for 51 years, was among the winners at Town’s weekend presentation evening.

Mr Walker came to the club first as a fan when it was still known as Harrogate Hotspurs, and received the Lifetime Award.

He received the gong from former Leeds United goalkeeper Neil Sullivan.

Mr Walker said: “This club is my life, and it is my second home.

“I remember coming down here as a supporter a very long time ago and it was overgrown!

“I have seen lots of changes at the club over the years, some for the better and some for worse.”

The football season is over.

Harrogate Town finished six points and one place beneath the Blue Square North play-off spots.

Should they improve next season, the club has a chance to be promoted to the football conference, which is one level beneath league football.

Johnny continued: “When there isn’t football, I don’t know what to do.

“I am very appreciative for the award I have received.

“The award means a lot to me, it shows the club appreciates what I am doing for them.”

Town is managed by Simon Weaver, whose father Irving is chairman.

Mr Weaver took the club over in 2011.

Mr Walker, 80, said: “I would say the people who have come in now are doing a magnificent job and the club looks the best it has done in 51 years.

“I will be here right up to the end!”

The club’s record goalscorer and current groundsman Jim Haig scooped the Clubman of the Year award in recognition of the work he has done to make the pitch playable this year.

The CNG surface was relaid last summer, and the club endured a torrid season of postponements as it failed to settle, due to heavy rainfall.

Mr Haig said: “It has been one hell of a season.

“I am an ex-player, and I still hold the record for most goals scored.

“To be quite honest, I can’t see anybody getting close to it!”

He continued: “I have to say this award is not only for me, but for a host of other volunteers.

“There are too many to name, but I mean people like Jeff Butler, Brian Booth and John Fall.

“I think that Irving Weaver coming here has been a breath of fresh air, I really enjoy working for him.”

Town will begin their bid for promotion in August.