From the Terraces: Struggling to get as excited as I usually would do about start of a new season

Harrogate Town wore their brand-new away strip for the first time during Tuesday night’s EFL Trophy showdown  with Grimsby Town. Picture: Matt KirkhamHarrogate Town wore their brand-new away strip for the first time during Tuesday night’s EFL Trophy showdown  with Grimsby Town. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town wore their brand-new away strip for the first time during Tuesday night’s EFL Trophy showdown with Grimsby Town. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town supporter Dave Worton’s view on the 2020/21 campaign – the club’s first-ever in the Football League.

Barely five weeks after victory at Wembley Stadium, and Town find themselves back in action in their historic first season as a Football League club

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but that fact still hasn’t sunk in with me yet. I still have to pinch myself every time Radio York replays Barry Parker exclaiming, “Can you believe this? Harrogate Town have been promoted to the Football League!” No, Barry, I can’t.

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It’s exciting, but ultimately depressing that we can’t be there to witness it from the terraces.

It is just over a month since Harrogate Town beat Notts County to win the National League play-off final at Wembley. Picture: Getty ImagesIt is just over a month since Harrogate Town beat Notts County to win the National League play-off final at Wembley. Picture: Getty Images
It is just over a month since Harrogate Town beat Notts County to win the National League play-off final at Wembley. Picture: Getty Images

Although it’s looking as if limited, socially-distanced numbers may be allowed into games at the start of October if the ongoing pilots are successful, with Covid-19 currently on the rise again and new restrictions on gatherings over six nationwide, we certainly can’t take anything for granted.

At some stage a rise in infections is going to affect players and staff too.

As a fan, it’s therefore hard to drum up the normal excitement I’d be feeling at this stage. Instead of looking forward to the start of a long journey down to Southend, witnessing Town’s first match in the Football League, I’m going to have to make do with watching it on the internet.

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So, although things are happening thick and fast, I’m feeling a little bit detached from it all.

I chose to listen to the Tranmere Carabao Cup match on Radio York. It was free and it was Barry Parker. It was brilliant to witness, er, listen to, Town not only holding their own against a team that was competing in League One last year, but winning it 8-7 on penalties.

I’ve no idea how Joe Cracknell kept the fifth penalty out that would have won the game for Tranmere, though I’m not complaining.

Although Grimsby put out a young team on Tuesday night in the EFL Trophy and a 15-year old scored their second goal, it’s still pleasing that a changed Town team came back from a two-goal deficit to gain a point there too.

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That said, I haven’t quite fathomed why there has to be a penalty shoot-out in a mini-league match, where both teams had already achieved a point each, so we’ll overlook that little aberration.

Both matches, though, have almost assumed the role of pre-season friendlies and, to this end, have been very useful for Town to get back into their stride and to take the temperature ahead of the important start to their league campaign this Saturday. I think that’s probably the reason the EFL have arranged things like this.

If we haven’t been able to attend competitive matches so far, my daughter Molly and I, along with other Town season-ticket-holders, were able to travel to Brighouse to watch Town a couple of weeks ago in a pre-season friendly.

It was brilliant to be at a match for the first time in five months, even if it was a bit of a damp squib, both football and weather-wise. Not that anyone cared, of course, it was just good to be back, however briefly.

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Technically, we haven’t even finished last season yet, as we’re due to play Notts County in the semi-final of the FA Trophy next week, the day after we play at West Brom in the Carabao Cup.

Town are going to have to utilise their whole squad for those games, as well as for the important league matches on the two Saturdays either side.

It’s another couple of firsts for Town though: facing Premier League opponents for the first time in a competitive match and a first-ever appearance live on Sky Sports.

There’s so much going on, in so short a space of time, that the early-season controversy over the new strip design seems to have been forgotten.

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Once I’d seen an internet post comparing the new home top to lederhosen, I just couldn’t get the image out of my mind. It’s all about the position of the Strata logo in relation to the two vertical stripes.

However, at this stage, I have to say I’ve actually gotten used to the new strip and don’t mind it anymore. This happened last season also, when I initially thought the low horizontal stripes made the players look podgy.

It turned that I just needed to get used to it. Or maybe the players had had too much of a good thing close season.

Whatever, I grew to like the strip more than the previous season’s, and I hope the same happens this year.

What I can say though, is that the new blue away strip, as worn at Grimsby on Tuesday night, looks the business.