From the Terraces: Wishing Harrogate Town luck in National League play-off semi-final
If it seems like an eternity since the final game of Harrogate Town’s coronavirus-truncated National League season, the few weeks following the announcement that the play-offs would be honoured have almost seemed to stand still.
It’s felt at times like we’d never get here but, exactly 20 weeks after our home draw with Bromley, the big weekend has finally arrived.
The decision not to play a warm-up friendly has been hotly debated among supporters online.
Town don’t have a big squad and need everyone to stay fit, so my own feelings on this is that basing at home and playing 10-a-side on the Wetherby Road pitch in front of empty stands is probably the best preparation the squad could get at this stage.
Boreham Wood may come into this game with a couple of games under their belt, but Simon Weaver’s men have had the chance to replicate the match-day situation, with everybody in the squad getting full 90-minute run-outs.
I trust the manager on this, and I like the focused way in which Town seem to be approaching the play-offs.
Saying that, I was absolutely flabbergasted to read that Town turned down the chance to play a friendly match with Glasgow Celtic recently, and my heart sank for a very brief moment.
Then I remembered that fans wouldn’t have been able to attend anyway and I feel it would have been a distraction from the club’s seemingly meticulous preparation. Maybe we can rearrange it for next year. I continue to live in hope.
As Covid-19 restrictions are still very much in place, it’s hard to gauge the mood of the town as a whole, and there’s no semblance of the usual momentum a team takes into the play-offs.
It’s simply a case of the players trying to pick up from where they left off, and maintaining the confidence and focus they had in the weeks before lockdown.
With fans planning to watch on BT Sport either in the comfort of their own home, or in pre-booked, hopefully socially-distanced pub settings, we’re all with Simon and the players in spirit, even though we can’t be there in person.
My daughter Molly’s booked a seat at her friend Lily’s house. I’ve no idea where I’ll be watching it yet, but I need to find somewhere quickly.
The club has received many good luck messages in the last couple of weeks and this, from Steven Capel, is the pick of them for me.
“My late father was a supporter of Harrogate Town when they were a Yorkshire League side,” he said.
“He would never have believed they would be anywhere near the Football League. Come on lads do it for both yourselves, the town and his memory.”
If I was Simon Weaver, I’d enlarge it in bold text and stick it prominently on the dressing room wall.
It’s a beautiful message and sums the situation up perfectly.
It also reminds us as Town fans, that whatever the outcome this weekend, let’s not forget the massive strides forward this club has made, and is continuing to make, in its pursuit of the holy grail of League Football.
All that’s left for me to say is good luck Town!