Talks on Harrogate Town's FA Trophy heroes' possible bus parade through town but will it happen this time
Harrogate Town fans denied the chance to watch their heroes’ historic FA Trophy triumph in person earlier this week may get to see them bring the cup home in an open-top bus - if it can be done safely.
Although it is early days yet and the watchword is definitely one of caution, the Harrogate Advertiser understands discussions are taking place for the club to tour the town in a similar fashion to last August’s celebrations when the club won promotion to the English Football League.
Excitement since Harrogate Town secured a 1-0 FA Trophy Final success over Concord Rangers at Wembley Stadium - in a match held over from last year because of Covid - has prompted local politicians to call for a new public celebration, if it can be done safely.
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones said: “What a great journey Harrogate Town are on. Into the Football League, a final at Wembley; a goal by the skipper; lifting the trophy... But I am sure that this is just the fore-runner of many more victories for our team.
“I hope, as a town, we can mark the occasion in grand style as soon as restrictions permit.
“The win should be celebrated as part of our release from lockdown.
“Looking forward, I want Town’s victories to be cheered by fans watching live at their ground in future.”
No one wants to set unrealistic expectations and accidentally disappoint Harrogate Town supporters again.
For the moment the club itself, while delighted at its Wembley success is staying cautious on the subject of a second bus parade round Harrogate in less than 12 months.
It’s managing director Garry Plant told the Harrogate Advertiser, that any idea of repeating the scenes of last year when hundreds of people thronged the streets to cheer Harrogate Town’s footballers - in a move made possible by the support of Harrogate Bus Company, North Yorkshire County Council, Harrogate Borough Council and Harrogate Police - boiled down to a matter of logistics.
Mr Plant said:“It was great to see the Wembley Arch glowing in Harrogate Town colours. It was our second trip to the home of football and the silverware came back on the bus again. It has been quite a year for the club but sadly one without our loyal supporters.
“The club is looking to see how it celebrates the FA Trophy victory with the supporters and to share the joy of the success, so watch this space!”
Harrogate Borough Council told the Harrogate Advertiser it would support a bus parade as long as it complied with Covid restrictions.
Among those backing the idea is Coun Pat Marsh, the leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Harrogate Borough Council, who has also raised the possibility of a different sort of recognition.
Coun Marsh said: “When we can organise an event, a mayoral reception for the club is what is needed to recognise their achievement or, perhaps, an open-top bus through the town just as we enjoyed last year.”
Although no Harrogate Town supporters were allowed to attend the game at Wembley Stadium in a repetition of a similar situation because of Covid restrictions last season when the club won its historic promotion to the English Football League at the same ground, people were still watching Bank Holiday Monday’s big match via streaming on BT, Sky and Virgin.
Despite the chilly and wet weather, some fans even paid to watch the match live under canvas in a luxury tipi marquee at Cedar Court Hotel.
Harrogate Bus company on Town’s victory
If an open-top bus parade was to take place to allow Harrogate Town to show off the FA Trophy in its home town, it’s unlikely any such celebration could take place without the involvement of Harrogate Bus Company.
Despite playing a key role last year when Town paraded the National League trophy around the Harrogate streets, it’s staying tight-lipped about the prospect this time as talks go on behind the scenes on how to make any such event completely Covid safe.
Alex Hornby, chief executive officer of Transdev Blazefield, the firm behind Harrogate Bus Company, said: “Like everyone else in Harrogate, we’re so proud of Harrogate Town for again bringing back the silverware after another heroic effort at Wembley. We can’t wait to celebrate with the team, the fans and our town.”
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