Celebration, relegation... and Ray Stubbs?

2007 was another landmark year of district sport, where teams and individuals once again excelled beyond all expectations. ANDREW GROVES takes a look back over the last 12 months...

JANUARY

HARROGATE Town’s New Year’s Day fixture with Yorkshire rivals Farsley Celtic is postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Town celebrate their first game of 2007 with a 1-0 win away at Hinckley, Chris Ellerker grabbing the all important goal.

They make it two out of two with an easy 3-0 triumph at home to Lancaster City seven days later.

Neil Aspin’s men then thrash Vauxhall Motors 5-1 before their mouthwatering tie with local-rivals Harrogate Railway in the County Cup quarter-final on the last day of the month.

Rail’ were in inconsistent form coming into the game but in-front of 648 supporters pulled off a memorable 1-0 victory at Station View, Steve Jones grabbing the only goal.

Meanwhile it was an eventful month for Harrogate RUFC who started 2007 like they ended 2006- with another thumping defeat.

There was some cheer off the field when the club had an offer accepted on a 20-acre plot of green-belt land at Calcutt, where they hope to set up a new home.

However on the pitch Matt Emmerson quit his post as coach after their 34-11 defeat to Barking.

Elsewhere Harrogate basketball star Lucy Buxton was celebrating after helping her Yorkshire team claim a national title and Cundall Manor School pupil Jamie Albert was selected for the England Fencing's "Tomorrow's Achievers" team.

Tadcaster Albion halted an eight-game losing streak by cantering to a 2-0 victory over Winterton Rangers in the NCE First Division.

In the West Yorkshire League, Sherburn beat Boroughbridge 1-0 in their derby at the start of the month and Wetherby Athletic pulled off a superb 3-2 victory away at Leeds Met Carnegie.

In the Harrogate Premier League the title was turning out into a two horse race with Thirsk Falcons and Sherwood battling for top spot.

Meanwhile the future looks bright for athletics in Wetherby with junior members Sarah Hopkins and Misty Harman flying the flag at the North of England Indoor Athletics Championships in Sheffield.

FEBRUARY

HARROGATE Railway is rocked when manager Martin Haresign announces his resignation due to work commitments.

Haresign took over the side in 2003 when Rail' were struggling in the lower reaches of the NCEL Premier Division.

After stabilising the club, his rejuvenated side reached the promised land of the UniBond First Division after gaining promotion at the end of the 2005-06 season.

Assistant Vinnie Brockie takes over at the helm but is sent to the stands in his first full game in charge.

In the NCE League Tad’ Albion marched to their fifth victory in a row to fuel their promotion hopes but end the month with a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Rossendale United.

In front of a bumper crowd Harrogate Town lose their North Yorkshire derby with ten-men Scarborough.

Off the pitch the Wetherby Road facilities fell under the spotlight.

Away fans were not permitted to enter the Kickers Bar before or after the game and hundreds of away fans were provided with only one Portaloo.

Neil Aspin’s side end the month with victories over Leigh RMI and a 3-2 defeat away at Workington.

In rugby union former coach Rhys Morgan returns to Claro Road with new side Halifax and comes away with an impressive victory.

Elsewhere Northallerton RUFC stay deep in the Yorkshire Three relegation dogfight but Ripon pull away from the dropzone after a run of four straight victories in Yorkshire Two.

Harrogate Hockey star Andrew Clemerson gained trials for the UK U-16s squad after a superb season on the pitch.

Also, a storming comeback by Harrogate squash ace Jenny Duncalf sees her claim the British Championship after beating 24-year-old sixth seed Alison Waters in Manchester.

MARCH

HARROGATE Hockey bid farewell to manager Howard Marston who leaves after 14 successful years at the club.

The club finish the season seventh in National North after a 4-2 win against Lichfield.

In rugby union Harrogate are officially relegated to National Three North after losing to Stourbridge.

The club however looks to the future by appointing 23-year-old Leeds Met Carnegie scrum half Mike Aspinall as their new head coach for the following season.

It’s an emotional night as Harrogate Town welcome Hinckley United to Wetherby Road for their rearranged league game.

The first fixture was tragically cut short when Hinckley defender Matt Gadsby died on the pitch back in September.

After a minute’s applause Town later went on to win the game

Harrogate Railway mourn the death of club legend Mick Margis who sadly passed away in March.

On the pitch Vinnie Brockie’s side miss out on County Cup triumph losing to Goole in their semi-final.

In the Harrogate Premier League defending champions Sherwood hold title challengers Thirsk Falcons to a 1-1 draw in a feisty encounter.

Northallerton Town storm into the final of the NRCC Cup and will play either Middlesbrough Academy or Scarborough in the final.

Meanwhile, in school football, St Aidan’s U-18s side lose out to Monkseaton High School from Whitley Bay in the last 16 of the ESFA U-18s Schools Trophy.

Rossett pupil Rachel Daly was celebrating after being selected for the England U-17s side to compete in a tournament in Holland.

Harrogate Harriers' team of Chris Miller, Ian Rowbotham and Dave Askew finish second at the recent Windmills Whizz Fell Race at Overden between Halifax and Keighley.

In other sports Evie Roberts receives a call up into the England U-16 Ice Hockey squad, 12-year-old boxer Tom Ward strikes a blow at the ABA Golden Gloves competition and Emma Gibson jets off to Turkey to team up with the GB U-20s fencing squad.

Harrogate golfer John Parry gave his chances of being called into the Walker Cup squad a big boost with a brilliant winning performance in the Spanish Amateur championship.

The 20-year-old England international steamrollered France's Baptise Chapellan 10 and 9 in the 36-hole final at Desert Springs, Almeria.

APRIL

HARROGATE RUFC’S torturous season finally ends but the relegated side reaches an all-time low when they fall to the heaviest defeat in the club's - and league's - history.

'Gate were walloped 107-5 at Cambridge, only two weeks after their 90-0 loss against Nuneaton, setting a new National Two record in the process.

The defeat tops Blackheath's longstanding record loss of 103-3 against Otley in 1999.

Harrogate Town’s play-off chances fade after a defeat away at Ron Atkinson’s Kettering Town on Easter Monday.

Aspin’s side draw 1-1 with Barrow before a devastating 2-0 defeat against champions select Droylsden. They beat Worcester on the final day of the season but finish one point off the play-off places.

Harrogate Railway finish a successful season in the UniBond First Division in 12th position.

Brockie’s side learn they’ll play in the restructured UniBond First Division North next season.

Tadcaster Albion finish just outside the promotion places in seventh in the NCE First Division.

Jimmy Reid’s men end a fine campaign with a 3-1 victory over Gedling Town on the final day of the season.

Northallerton Town finish the season in mid-table security in the Arngrove Northern League and lose their NRCC Cup final against Middlesbrough Academy.

Sherwood claim the Harrogate Premier League title for the second consecutive year, Thirsk Falcons finish second.

Meanwhile Spa Athletic beat Thirsk to the Senior Cup.

Boroughbridge lift the Whitworth Cup in controversial circumstances with a 2-0 victory over Knaresborough Town at Wetherby Road, meanwhile Boroughbridge Reserves take the Intermediate Cup too.

In rugby union Harrogate end their miserable season having won one game - their opening day victory against Cambridge.

Ripon RUFC confirm their Yorkshire Two status with a superb 18-12 victory over Goole.

The game marks the end for club stalwart Robbie Rua who returns to New Zealand after an illustrious spell with the club.

In Yorkshire Three Northallerton suffer relegation agony.

Leading golfing ace John Parry tees off in his first official European Tour event - the Spanish Open in Madrid - alongside the likes of Ryder Cup stars Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

He was invited after winning the Spanish Amateur a month before.

Meanwhile the Yorkshire League, Aire Wharfe, Nidderdale and York Senior cricket leagues officially get under way.

Harrogate Squash Club finish their season on a high note when they captured the Yorkshire Squash Cup in a 5-0 final showdown against Pontefract 2nds.

MAY

IN the aftermath of their play-off disappointment Neil Aspin hits back at his Town critics by claiming his side had “no divine right” to be promoted.

In the Northern League popular Northallerton Town manager Paul Burton and assistant Mark Riley announce their resignation.

Bardsey FC cap a magnificent season on the pitch by becoming league and cup champions.

Steve Larner’s men beat Beeston in the League Cup 5-4 on penalties and sneaked to the title by one point after beating Boroughbridge on the final day and rivals Beeston drawing 0-0 at Sherburn.

Sherburn manager Wayne Day announces he’ll leave the club in the summer and become Ossett Albion’s new assistant boss.

Wetherby survive relegation by the skin of their teeth with Leeds Met moving up into the NCE League next season, Sherburn finish sixth, Boroughbridge seventh and Knaresborough Town 11th in the West Yorkshire Premier League.

Ripon City are promoted from Division One despite finishing in third place but Tadcaster Magnets are relegated to Division Two.

In rugby league Wetherby Bulldogs are relegated from Pennine Four after a long brave battle.

Coach Rich Wilkinson reveals he’ll step down from his role at the end of the season- the club later announce former Featherstone Lions man Kevin Fellows will replace him.

In rugby union Harrogate name club stalwart Andy Boyle as the new captain for their 2007/08 campaign.

Beckwithshaw CC claim local bragging rights in the Aire Wharfe League with victory over Bilton meanwhile Harrogate continue to surprise in the Yorkshire League with a fine win over Rotherham.

JUNE

JUNE marks the start of Harrogate Advertiser’s new junior cricket mini-site where youngsters for the first time can track their progress online.

On the pitch rain causes havoc throughout the region however Kirk Deighton’s Aussie Simon Stolcman hits the headlines after smashing a Wetherby League record 227 not out against Old Modernians.

The South Australian breaks Shawn Findlay's previous record of 188 for Shadwell against Spofforth in 2004.

Harrogate’s John Parry swoops to victory in the Welsh Open Stroke Play Championship after a dramatic sudden death play-off with England team-mate Paul Waring.

The 20-year-old claims his third national title after winning the Danish Amateur in 2005 and the Spanish Open earlier this year. His latest success draws admiring glances from the Walker Cup selectors.

In football former Darlington and Hartlepool player Andy Toman takes over the vacant manager’s position at Northallerton Town.

Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers athletes storms away with the Gold Medal in the National Biathlon Championships in Norwich. Club team mate Donna James wins the World Duathlon Championships in Hungary.

Harrogate’s Jenny Duncalf retains her reign as queen of the European squash courts.

The 24-year-old Harrogate player claims the European Women's crown by defeating favourite Tanya Bailey (Lincs) in France.

Equestrian fans converge on Bramham Park for the three day event, the Bramham International Horse Trials to see BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Zara Philips compete.

Tadcaster swimmer Jordan Foster wraps up the season in style with an impressive seven-medal haul at the recent County Championships at Ponds Ford, Sheffield.

On the boards, Oliver Dingley is selected for the GB team at the Junior European Diving Championships in Italy whilst Jack Laugher retains his status as national champion on the three-metre springboard at the ASA Elite Junior Championships.

Tennis sensation Jasper Jacob wows the crowd at the Abingdon Junior Open at Oxfordshire.

JULY

ROB Northfield steals the headlines in July after officially taking over at the helm of Harrogate Railway.

The millionaire businessman is formally unveiled in his new role at the club's AGM on the first of the month.

The former Guiseley FC owner invests 30,000 straight into Rail' and promises to back manager Vinne Brockie in the transfer market if requested.

Harrogate Town kick-off their pre season campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Bradford City at Wetherby Road.

Neil Aspin’s men then beat local rivals Harrogate Railway in the John Smith’s Cup on penalties.

Manager Aspin stays busy on the transfer front signing Nathan James from Railway, Nathan Peat, Mark Hume, Lee Whittington, Denny Ingram and Paul Musselwhite.

Follifoot CC put their dismal league form to one side to beat arch rivals Bilton in the final of the Addison Cup held at Bilton Lane, Mike Stanford scooping the man-of-the-match.

Beckwithshaw CC are crowned Harrogate Evening League winners whilst 14-year-old Caitlin Chang celebrates her selection to the elite British U-17s Cadet Potential squad by adding the England U-15s Epee Champion to her U-14s crown.

AUGUST

THE 2007/08 football season kicks-off with Harrogate Town beating Nuneaton Borough 2-1 away.

Aspin’s side continue their superb start with another four straight wins over Boston, Solihull, Leigh and Hyde to sit top of the pile.

Elsewhere Harrogate Railway start poorly with just one victory in the month against Bridlington Town, Tadcaster Albion beat Bottesford Town on day one whilst Northallerton Town lose to Tow Law Town.

It’s all change in the West Yorkshire League with Ripon City’s Pete Binks and Dave Amesbury replaced by Charlie Brown and Alan Woodbridge.

Knaresborough Town’s Paul Howard leaves with former Sherwood boss Brian Davey and assistant Duncan Falconer coming in.

Des English takes over the Wetherby helm from Benn Gallagher and Nick Peacock becomes the new Sherburn manager.

Harrogate RUFC start their National Three North campaign with a comprehensive 41-6 victory over Beverley.

In cricket dark horses Studley Royal fail to pull off a giantkilling when Richard Till’s Sessay waltz to the York Senior Premier League Cup, Matt Till taking the man-of-the-match.

More than 630 runners pound the streets of Harrogate for the annual Harrogate town centre 10K hosted by Harrogate Harriers.

Martin Scaife of NYMAC, wins with Harrogate resident Mike Burrett - running for Leeds City - finishing third in 32.34.

Harrogate Nova's Bruce Dinsmore, finishes fifth in the gruelling Great Divide Race - a 2,500 mile off road self supported competition traversing Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

SEPTEMBER

DACRE Banks CC are cleared of paying overseas Julien Goodall after a lengthy investigation by the Nidderdale League's disciplinary panel.

The case was a major talking point throughout the league and reignited the debate surrounding the league's amateur status, fair play and overseas cricketers

Meanwhile on the pitch old hands Killinghall pick up the Division One crown with their second team winning their respective division.

They also add the Atkinson-Swires to the trophy cabinet after beating Hampsthwaite in the final.

After a rollercoaster campaign Collingham & Linton lift the Aire Wharfe Division One title for the first time.

Beckwithshaw finish third with Bilton just clear of the relegation zone in ninth but Follifoot are doomed to relegation after finishing bottom of the pile.

In Division Two Knaresborough finish fifth whilst Bardsey stay clear of the drop zone.

Paul Allegretto’s Harrogate side end a frustrating season with a hard fought 11th placed finish in the ECB Yorkshire League.

In the Wetherby League Church Fenton cap a superb campaign by adding the league title to their Senior Cup victory.

Spofforth and Kirk Deighton finish off the pace whilst Shadwell stay in Division One for another season.

Wetherby add their name to potential title challengers next season after winning Division Two with a 100 per cent record.

Thirsk celebrate a superb season in the York Senior League Premier Division and finish fifth. Sessay meanwhile end a disappointing league campaign in eighth.

Studley Royal finish fourth bottom in Division One. The club has some cheer when youngster George Lamb is selected in the North of England squad.

In Division Two Ripon end the season on a high in fourth place, in Division Three Tadcaster Magnets miss out on promotion.

Harrogate Hockey Club make the shock decision to withdraw from the National Hockey League.

With star player and proposed coach Rohan Thomas refused a visa and successive defeats to Hull and Birmingham Uni, the side make the decision to play in Division Two East of the Northern League - three rungs lower than where they were.

In football Harrogate Town’s superb start to the season continues with three victories and three draws to extend their unbeaten run to 11 games.

Harrogate Railway kick-off a long and memorable run in the FA Cup with a 4-1 away victory over Northern League side Esh Winning.

Brockie’s side push through to the Third Round Qualifying with victory over Chester le Street after a replay.

Railway lose their league clash against FC United of Manchester 2-0 in front of 2196 fans at Gigg Lane.

Meanwhile golfing ace John Parry is named in the prestigious Walker Cup team to face the USA at Royal County Down.

OCTOBER

Harrogate is gripped by FA Cup fever when Railway and Town are drawn together at Station View with a place in the First Round Proper up for grabs.

Town appear firm favourites after two magnificent victories against AFC Telford and Southport in the run-up to the game.

Before the game the 1,286 supporters immacuately observed a minute silence in a mark of respect for popular local footballer Adam Tennant who tragically died whilst playing for Spa Athletic.

On the pitch the result went the way of the underdog with Rail’ ending Town’s unbeaten run with a 2-1 win.

Local lad Chris Ellerker cruelly breaks Town hearts with an own goal two minutes from time.

Rail’s reward for victory is another home tie against Blue Square Premier outfit Droylsden.

In other sports squash superstar Oliver Hotchkiss wins the Yorkshire U-13s Championship at Wigginton near York added to his North East Junior Championship at Pontefract.

Harrogate rally driver Miles Johnston and co driver Ian Bevan win the penultimate round of the Mitsubishi Evolution cup, taking the 2007 Title with one round remaining.

NOVEMBER

THE dream simply rolls on for FA Cup minnows Harrogate Railway who defy the odds yet again and beat a physical Droylsden outfit 2-0 to move through to the Second Round of the competition.

Goals by Byron Littlefair and Ryan Haigh see Brockie’s side through.

There’s more drama during the draw the following day when Rail’ are the last home side pulled out of the hat. They eventually draw League One Mansfield, which later becomes the featured game on the BBC.

Harrogate Town sign Tony Hackworth but lose their unbeaten home and away league record with successive defeats to Alfreton and Burscough respectively.

They bounce back against Blyth Spartans and Tamworth but are knocked out of the FA Trophy by title rivals Kettering Town.

Meanwhile Harrogate RUFC urge the council to safeguard their future by approving a planning application for a modern facility at Thistle Hill site near Calcutt.

Sixteen-year-old Nigel Moore wins the Playstation Junior Ginetta championship in his first year of motor racing.

DECEMBER

The second day of the month will be remembered as the day the eyes of the football world turned to Station View for Harrogate Railway’s FA Cup Second Round clash against Mansfield Town.

The game, played out live on BBC One in front of a packed ground and Match of the Day’s Ray Stubbs, Mark Lawrenson and Carlton Palmer, eventually sees Rail’ slip to a 3-2 defeat despite a spirited fightback by Vinnie Brockie’s side in the driving rain.

Danny Davidson goes down in Rail’ folklore for his two second-half strikes.

Neighbours Harrogate Town are beaten 3-1 by Tamworth in the Setanta Shield but bounce back with a hard fought 0-0 draw away at title rivals Southport four days later.

Later in the month Aspin delves into the transfer market to sign former Rail’ ‘keeper Jonathan McClaughlin and Steve Burton from Kettering.

Meanwhile after much “soul searching” chairman Bill Fotherby decides to redevelop Wetherby Road after a six year search for a new ground.

England and Harrogate karate master Matt Price announces his retirement from competition, but will continue his teaching.

Kirk Deighton Rangers beat Sherburn 2-1 in the County Cup and draw Boroughbridge in the next round.

Elsewhere Harrogate lacrosse ace Amy Pullan is selected for the England U-19s squad and Wetherby Racecourse is voted Best Small Racecourse in the North.

In squash, Harrogate-based England coach David Pearson successfully managed the side in the recent World Cup in India. The team defeated Australia 2-1 in the final to lift the title.

Harrogate golfing ace John Parry makes the bold decision to turn professional.