FA Cup: McDermott puts Grimsby Town loyalty aside for Harrogate Town cause
Former loyalties will be put to one side by Harrogate Town assistant John McDermott when coming up against the club he has legendary status at in Saturday’s FA Cup fourth qualifying round.
Harrogate will bid to reach the competition’s first round for the second time in four seasons when taking on higher league opponents Grimsby Town at the CNG Stadium.
The cup tie resembles great importance for McDermott, who spent his entire playing career at the Lincolnshire outfit.
However, he has been Simon Weaver’s right-hand man at Town for five years and there is no question over which side the 46-year-old will be favouring when the two sides come to blows.
“It’s going to be strange for me with the feeling I have had for the club but I want to win, and win for Harrogate and the players,” said McDermott, who still works at Grimsby in a coaching role.
“It’s probably the biggest draw we could have got – even if we get through to the next round. Teams in League One and League Two, nobody brings the following that Grimsby have.
“I have been connected to the club since I was 14 and you want either your home town club or a club that you have been associated with for a long time.
“It’s going to be a massive game for the fans, the players, the chairman and the management.”
In his 20-year stint at Blundell Park, McDermott helped the Mariners to a number of shock results in the famous competition.
In only his second year at the club, Grimsby reached the fifth round in a run which included a 2-1 win away to top flight Middlesbrough.
A fourth round win over West Ham United followed in 1996, followed by holding Chelsea to a goalless draw before losing the replay.
And in 2005, he was part of the team that knocked Tottenham Hotspur out of the Carling Cup 1-0 thanks to Jean-Paul Kalala’s late strike.
McDermott’s cup know-how has continued overseeing Town, accompanying Simon Weaver in the dug-out for the club’s record run to the FA Cup second round in 2012.
The assistant is hopeful his cup experiences can reflect on the Town dressing room in Saturday’s anticipated sell-out too.
He added: “You have to raise your game in the FA Cup and treat it as a one off.
“It’s a cup final, and you have to enjoy it and have no regrets for having a go.
“There will be nothing worse than coming off the field knowing we haven’t played well. We have to go for their throats from the start and not have any fear.
Grimsby have already sold more than 700 tickets to pack out the Sterling Motors Stand for the clash, with Town expected to fill their own allocation.
The capacity crowd is sure to create a raucous atmosphere on Wetherby Road, and McDermott urged the fans to out-do the travelling support
He added: “Everyone is talking about how big a follows they have, but people forget we have a good, vocal crowd.
They have been great for us this season, singing for the full 90 minutes.
“As a player, when you see you’re fans being as vocal as that, you know how much it means to them and you push that bit harder. You want to send them back happy.
“Every successful team in the country, they are the ones that have a vocal support.”