New book shows Harrogate Town's thrilling rise to glory

If the life of any football club is full of ups and downs Harrogate Town fans must be wetting their lips at the thought of a new book which celebrates their team’s rise to glory.

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 5:03 pm
Book launch - Harrogate Town photographer Matt Kirkham's picture of Harrogate Town historian Phil Harrison, centre, with the club's chairman Irving Weaver and manager Simon Weaver at the EnviroVent Stadium.
Book launch - Harrogate Town photographer Matt Kirkham's picture of Harrogate Town historian Phil Harrison, centre, with the club's chairman Irving Weaver and manager Simon Weaver at the EnviroVent Stadium.

A labour of love by Harrogate Town historian Phil Harrison, the new, lavishly-illustrated publication tells the story of the club’s historic climb to the English Football League from 2004 to the present day.

It’s a story packed with drama and excitement, one that Phil Harrison, who has written three previous books about Harrogate Town’s history, says simply had to be told.

“Since my last book a lot has happened at the CNG Stadium - which is now known as EnviroVent Stadium,” said Phil.

“There’s been new stands, a short-lived 3G surface, now replaced, going full time as professionals, getting promoted to the National league 2017/18 and for 2019/20 getting promoted to the Football league for the first time in the club’s 106-year history after winning the National league play-off Final at Wembley.”

Although packed with facts and figures for every Harrogate Town season over the last 16 years, researched meticulously from his own records and the pages of the Harrogate Advertiser, what the new book also shows is that success has been a long march with the long-time father-and-son team of chairman Irving Weaver and manager Simon Weaver overcoming a succession of hurdles since arriving at Harrogate Town in 2011 after then chairman Bill Fotherby stepped down.

At the time, Town were still recovering from nearly being relegated from the Conference North division at the end of the 200-10 season.

But, like many of the hardcore Town fans, Phil remained steadfast that the club’s dream of gaining entry to the English Football League proper was a realistic one, his hope fuelled, perhaps, by his own deep understanding of their history since being founded in 1914 .

“I have been researching, compiling and writing books for Town since 1999 when I first visited the Harrogate Reference library to get Harrogate Advertiser newspaper cuttings of match reports of my playing days with Town in the mid-1960s when I was aged 17.

“I got so wrapped up in all these match reports, results, scorers and league tables that I decided to research Town’s history from when they were formed up to present.

“I have enjoyed every minute of what has beoame a labour of love.”

Called The Official History of Harrogate Town AFC Conference North to Football League 2004-5 to 2020-21. Phil’s latest deep dive into everything Harrogate Town features a bewildering but impressive amount of detail on every single match Harrogate Town has played between 2004 and 2021.

Where others see hard work, Phil sees a love of the club. “There’s been so many highlights in recent years, it is just great to be a Harrogate Town fan. I’ll never forget Wembley last year but the second most thrilling game was winning the National league North play-off final at home in 2018.”

Harrogate Town’s 'best’ players by Phil Harrison

During the period covered by Harrogate Town historian Phil Harrison’s new book on the club’s recent history, the team has changed with players coming and going during the club’s journey to the English Football League.

But who are Phil’s own Harrogate Town football heroes on the pitch in the 21st century?

Striker Danny Holland: Town’s top scorer in the 2005/06 season with 26 goals before claiming top spot again in 2006/07 and 2007/07.

In total Danny Holland scored 98 goals total in 190 games from the years 2004 to 2009.

Defender Dave Merris who made 285 appearances for Harrogate Town between 1999-2003 and 2006-08.

Striker Dominic Knowles who made 111 appearances and scored 51 goals between 2015-19 and 2012/1 3, as well as helping Town to the National League title with

his goals in the semi-final and play-off final games.

Defender Darren Burrell, a current team member, who rejoined the club in 2016 after a spell in 2009-11 and who is now closing in on the tenth highest ever number of appearances in a Town shirt.

The Official History of Harrogate Town AFC Conference North to Football League 2004-5 to 2020-21 book costs £12 and is available by emailing Phil Harrison at [email protected]