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Entertaining football and halloumi: Why crowds of over 1,000 now regularly watch Harrogate Town

Crowds at Harrogate Town's 3-0 win over North Ferriby in December. Picture: Adrian Murray
Crowds at Harrogate Town's 3-0 win over North Ferriby in December. Picture: Adrian Murray

A crowd of 1,648 was at the CNG Stadium on New Year's Day to watch Harrogate Town AFC's National League North victory over Darlington FC.

The attendance figure, which eclipsed the season-to-date average of 1,113 supporters, represents a remarkable turnaround for a club which, in January 2015, saw 384 people turn up for a league loss to Hednesford.

Monday's turn out - which included 576 travelling fans - came on a Bank Holiday in which Leeds United were also playing at home.

Harrogate Town Managing Director Garry Plant said the club was delighted at the turn out.

He said: "For 1,648 people to be at the match yesterday is outstanding.

"A few years ago we asked ourselves if we could get 500 people to regularly attend Harrogate Town AFC games, then when we achieved that, we wanted to get 750 people regularly attending.

"These days, we are disappointed if we don't get 1,000 people there.

"A few years ago people wouldn't even have questioned choosing between attending Harrogate Town over Leeds United.

"We have got to keep generating momentum, and we always try to make the matchday experience a good one."

Harrogate Town AFC sit second in the league and are challenging for promotion.

With things improving on the pitch, Mr Plant explained how the club has worked hard to improve the experience for supporters off it.

He said: "You can't underestimate the importance of the matchday experience. People want to be safe. Families do not want to be in an intimidating atmosphere.

"The match yesterday was segregated, and it is a safe environment."

He added: "People think that football fans want bad beer and bad pies but it simply isn't true.

"They want to be able to have good food, and not have to queue for a long time.

"Burgers and More arrange our catering and they have revolutionised what is on offer at the ground. They even offer halloumi."

You can read Monday's match report here

Upcoming home fixtures

Tuesday, January 23: Harrogate Town v Stockport County (7.45pm kick-off)

Saturday, January 27: Harrogate Town v AFC Telford United (3pm)

Saturday, February 3: Harrogate Town v Alfreton Town (3pm)