View from the press box: Fine start has definitely exceeded expectations

Harrogate Advertiser Series sports editor Rhys Howell has his say on the latest goings-on at Harrogate Town.

Monday, 12th November 2018, 12:21 pm
Updated Monday, 12th November 2018, 12:24 pm
Harrogate Town have had plenty of moments to celebrate so far this season. Picture: Matt Kirkham

A first Saturday of 2018/19 without a game for Harrogate Town afforded the opportunity to take stock.

We’re already more than a third of the way through the club’s first ever season in the National League, those opening 19 fixtures having flown by in the blink of an eye.

The relentless Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday nature of football at this level does mean that, before you know it, a campaign that still feels like it’s in its infancy, is in fact well on its way to being halfway gone.

It is still almost a shock when you glance at the league standings to see how many matches Town have already completed.

What probably comes as more of a surprise is the fact that Simon Weaver’s team are still within touching distance of the summit, and have lost just twice to date.

Form may have tailed off slightly during the last month, but it’s been a slight dip, nothing drastic.

Overall, it’s been a fantastic start and one that is surely surpassing the expectations of even the most optimistic of their supporters.

Anyone who tells you that they wouldn’t have taken fourth in the table after 19 games if you’d offered them that at the start of August is definitely a liar.

The question is, should we really be surprised?

Well, actually, I think that we should.

Weaver and his players have said all along that they were not coming into English football’s fifth tier simply to make up the numbers, but I’ll be honest, I’ve been pleasantly stunned by what has unfolded in front of me thus far.

Not knowing enough about the standard of the sides awaiting Town in the National League to make any kind of accurate prediction, when asked how I thought the club would do following their promotion, I found it difficult to answer with any degree of authority.

If my life depended on it, I’d have probably said that the men in yellow and black were more likely to be embroiled in a battle for survival than the race for promotion.

They were entering uncharted waters, and when faced with the prospect of going head-to-head with the likes of Leyton Orient, Chesterfield and Hartlepool United, the task appeared a daunting one, yet here we are.

This is a club on the crest of a wave.

Since going full-time they’ve developed a winning habit and the momentum from last term’s promotion has carried over into the current campaign.

They have regularly produced spells in matches where they've looked unplayable, blowing opponents away with their slick brand of pass-and-move football.

And, with the ambition and planning off the field matching what is happening on it, the club's upward trajectory looks likely to continue.

From a personal point of view, covering the club in recent months has provided plenty of firsts and a number of thrilling moments.

Here's hoping for more of the same between now and the end of the season.