Harrogate Town confirm that nine players will leave this summer upon expiry of their contracts, with two offered new deals

Centre-half Will Smith leaves Harrogate Town after five seasons at Wetherby Road. Pictures: Matt KirkhamCentre-half Will Smith leaves Harrogate Town after five seasons at Wetherby Road. Pictures: Matt Kirkham
Centre-half Will Smith leaves Harrogate Town after five seasons at Wetherby Road. Pictures: Matt Kirkham
At least nine first-team players will depart Harrogate Town upon the expiry of their contracts this summer.

Former England Under-21 defender Joe Mattock and promotion-winning centre-half Will Smith are the most notable names not to make the Sulphurites’ retained list, with goalkeepers Jonathan Mitchell, Lewis Thomas and Pete Jameson also leaving the club.

George Horbury, Finn O’Boyle, Brad Williams and Emmanuel Ilesanmi, who all progressed through Town’s fledgling academy to earn themselves professional contracts, are the other four men leaving Wetherby Road.

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Midfielders Levi Sutton and Stephen Dooley could yet be joining them, however both men have been offered new contracts that would see them remain in North Yorkshire.

Joe Mattock in action during Harrogate Town's opening-day-of-the-2023/24-season win away at Doncaster Rovers.Joe Mattock in action during Harrogate Town's opening-day-of-the-2023/24-season win away at Doncaster Rovers.
Joe Mattock in action during Harrogate Town's opening-day-of-the-2023/24-season win away at Doncaster Rovers.

“At this stage of the season, there are always difficult conversations to be had with players who we are saying goodbye to,” Harrogate boss Simon Weaver said.

“They are all really good lads, they have a fantastic attitude and are really good people to work with both on and off the pitch.

“We want to help them moving forward, we have made that clear to them. If there is anything that we can do to help them in the future career then we will do our utmost to help them.”

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Mattock, 34, joined Town as a free agent in the summer of 2022, fresh off the back of helping Rotherham United win promotion back to the Championship.

Goalkeeper Pete Jameson spent the 2023/24 campaign on loan at Hartlepool United.Goalkeeper Pete Jameson spent the 2023/24 campaign on loan at Hartlepool United.
Goalkeeper Pete Jameson spent the 2023/24 campaign on loan at Hartlepool United.

Having spent the vast majority of his career playing in the second tier and represented the likes of Leicester City, West Bromwich Albion, Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday, his pedigree is right up there with anyone who has donned a Harrogate shirt.

And his quality was there for all to see initially as he started each of the club’s first 16 League Two games of 2022/23, delivering a number of stand-out performances predominantly on the left of a back three.

A couple of niggly injuries would however see Mattock lose his place in the side and he struggled for game-time once fit again, with January arrivals Anthony O’Connor and Tom Eastman Weaver’s preferred options at the heart of his defence.

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He ended the season with 26 appearances (24 league, 2 FA Cup) to his name, but found himself very much on the fringes in 2023/24.

Jonathan Mitchell arrived at Wetherby Road as injury cover, only to then pick up a knock himself.Jonathan Mitchell arrived at Wetherby Road as injury cover, only to then pick up a knock himself.
Jonathan Mitchell arrived at Wetherby Road as injury cover, only to then pick up a knock himself.

The ex-England international played just five matches before being allowed to join National League Hartlepool United on loan in October, returning to Wetherby Road early due to injury.

He impressed from the substitutes’ bench during a 1-1 draw at Swindon in early March, and then made a brief cameo against Crawley a week later, but that was to be the last anyone saw of him in Harrogate colours as he failed to even make another match-day squad.

Fellow defender Smith, 25, arrived at Town in 2019 having impressed for Barnsley’s Under-23s.

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Filling the shoes of the outgoing Callum Howe, he immediately formed a solid partnership with fellow new arrival Connor Hall at the centre of Town’s back-line.

George Horbury was the first graduate of Harrogate Town's fledgling academy to sign a professional contract with the club.George Horbury was the first graduate of Harrogate Town's fledgling academy to sign a professional contract with the club.
George Horbury was the first graduate of Harrogate Town's fledgling academy to sign a professional contract with the club.

That year saw him make 39 appearances as the Sulphurites were promoted from the National League via the play-offs.

He was a mainstay of Weaver’s defence during the early stages of Harrogate’s time in the Football League, however two serious knee injuries kept him sidelined for significant periods of time.

Having fallen down the pecking order, Smith spent the back end of 2022/23 on loan with Scunthorpe United in the National League then headed back to the fifth tier with York City for the vast majority of 2023/24. He played just one competitive match for Harrogate since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament away at Northampton in April 2022, enduring a torrid 90 minutes as Town were thrashed 8-0 by Blackburn Rovers in an EFL Cup tie in August.

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In total, he made 96 appearances for the club, scoring six goals.

Gloveman Jameson, 31, joined Town from local rivals York City ahead of the 2022/23 campaign as Weaver sought to create genuine competition for the number one shirt.

With Mark Oxley far from convincing during his debut season at the EnviroVent Stadium, Jameson began his first-ever term in the Football League as Harrogate’s first-choice goalkeeper, starting 27 of their first 28 League Two fixtures.

Young striker Emmanuel Ilesanmi is one of nine players leaving Harrogate Town this summer.Young striker Emmanuel Ilesanmi is one of nine players leaving Harrogate Town this summer.
Young striker Emmanuel Ilesanmi is one of nine players leaving Harrogate Town this summer.

His own form in a struggling side was initially very good, but a slight drop-off in performance level saw him dropped for Oxley in mid-February 2023 and unable to win his place back.

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Unhappy at having to play second fiddle, he took to social media that summer to announce that he would be moving on, but when a permanent transfer did not materialise, the ex-Darlington stopper ended up joining National League Hartlepool on loan for the duration of 2023/24, playing 20 games.

In total he made 31 appearances for Harrogate, keeping six clean-sheets.

A free agent at the time following his release by Doncaster Rovers at the end of 2022/23, Mitchell, 29, was drafted in by Town on a short-term contract last November to provide cover for Oxley, after he ruptured a calf tendon.

The former Newcastle United trainee immediately assumed the role of starting goalkeeper ahead of rookie Lewis Thomas, playing six times before damaging a knee in training to once again leave Weaver without a senior custodian at his disposal.

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As a result, James Belshaw returned to Wetherby Road on an emergency loan deal, which was eventually made permanent, and although Mitchell’s deal was extended until the end of the season, he did not feature again.

Thomas, 22, arrived at Harrogate last summer after leaving Burnley. He made his competitive debut against Accrington Stanley in an EFL Trophy tie, conceding five goals, but then kept a clean-sheet having replaced the injured Oxley during a 1-0 League Two loss at home to Crewe Alexandra.

His final appearance came in a 5-1 FA Cup success over non-league Marine, with a training-ground injury sustained during the second half of the season doing nothing to help his cause.

Striker Ilesanmi, 19, made history in the 2021/22 season when he became the first-ever player to progress from Town’s academy to feature in a competitive fixture, in an EFL Trophy win over Newcastle Under-21s.

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Later that term, he also became the first product of the club’s academy to play in League Two, emerging from the bench late on during a 2-1 home loss to Colchester United in April 2022.

In total, he made six first-team appearances for Town in addition to spending time on loan with Scarborough Athletic, Spennymoor Town and Basford United.

Midfielder George Horbury, 19, was another youngster to make history, becoming the first graduate of the Sulphurites’ academy to sign a professional contract with the club.

He made his competitive debut as a late substitute in a 4-0 League Two loss at home to Newport County in August 2022, then impressed from the bench in an EFL Trophy defeat at Hartlepool a few days later.

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But in Town’s next league match, away at Sutton United, he was red-carded for what was deemed a dangerous tackle, just 14 minutes after coming on to the pitch.

The former St Aidan’s High School pupil went on to make two more EFL Trophy appearances that season before joining Northern Premier League outfit Marske United on loan.

Having earned himself a new contract last summer, 2023/24 saw Horbury feature in two EFL Trophy games and one EFL Cup tie for Harrogate, taking his total to eight first-team appearances prior to a brief loan spell at National League North Buxton.

This was followed by a longer spell in the same division with Chorley, whom he helped to the play-offs.

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Attacking midfielder Finn O’Boyle, 18, is also a history-maker having become the first academy graduate to score for the first team when he netted on his senior debut during a 2-1 EFL Trophy success against Morecambe in October 2022.

Last term, he made a brief appearance in the same competition as Town lost to Accrington, but did not feature for Weaver’s side again. He spent time on loan with Sheffield FC and Gloucester City.

Midfielder Brad Williams, 19, made a total of three short substitute appearances for the Sulphurites.

He made his Town bow against Newcastle Under-21s in the EFL Trophy in October 2022, then twice came off the bench in League Two during the 2022/23 campaign, featuring against Rochdale both home and away.

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The 2023/24 campaign saw him head to Bradford Park Avenue and Darlington on loan.

Loanees Jeremy Sivi, Tom Bloxham and Derrick Abu returned to their parent clubs upon the conclusion of the 2023/24 campaign, meaning that Weaver currently has 18 first-team players on the books heading into Town’s fifth season in the Football League.

Versatile forward Sam Folarin agreed a new one-year deal earlier this week, while young academy prospect James Moorby was handed a professional contract earlier in the month.

Goalkeepers: Mark Oxley, James Belshaw.

Defenders: Warren Burrell, Toby Sims, Anthony O’Connor, Rod McDonald, Matty Foulds, Liam Gibson, James Moorby.

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Midfielders: Josh Falkingham, George Thomson, Dean Cornelius, Matty Daly, James Daly.

Forwards: Abraham Odoh, Sam Folarin, Jack Muldoon, Josh March.

Town have also confirmed that academy players Alex Mooney, Cadarn Taylor, Lewis Smalley, Ollie Nicholson, Alfie Lee, Josh Brodella and Elijah Samuels have been released upon completion of their two-year scholarships.

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