Callum Howe’s departure from Harrogate Town was not welcomed by anyone associated with the club.
Manager Simon Weaver “told the player I didn’t want him to go”, supporters took to social media to voice their discontent at losing one of their prize assets, and a number of players have acknowledged that the highly-rated centre-half’s shoes will be difficult to fill.
Yet, for one of Howe’s former team-mates, the defender’s transfer to Solihull Moors for an undisclosed club-record fee has really stung.
Jack Muldoon counts Howe among his best friends. Not within the club, or even in football, but full stop.
And while he is happy that his pal has secured himself a good deal at “another club that is going places”, he concedes that it will be “strange” lining up against Howe when he returns to the
CNG Stadium with his new team, just eight days after leaving.
“For me personally, Cal going is a massive blow, he is one of my best mates,” Muldoon said of his ex-Lincoln City colleague.
“Over the last four or five years we’ve become very close. He was my room-mate on away trips and we’ve driven in [to Harrogate] together every day for the last 12 months.
“Obviously I’m happy for him that he’s got himself a much stronger deal at another club like Harrogate who are going places, however he was a key player for us and will be sorely missed.
“It will be strange lining up against him on Saturday instead of alongside him, but that’s football.”
That Howe’s first competitive appearance for his new employers will come at the home of his former club and so soon after his exit is something of a quirk, yet Muldoon insists that it will just be a case of remaining professional despite the circumstances.
“I’m sure he’ll get some abuse,” Town’s top-scorer in 2018/19 joked.
“All he can do is shake everyone’s hands before kick-off and then get on with his job. Solihull are the club playing his wages now.
“It’s the same for us. You just have to get on with it. It’s not like anybody will have a grudge against him because he’s left, but Cal will be playing for the other team and you have to be professional.”
Assuming that he starts the game, Howe’s presence in the Solihull side on Saturday could leave Town at a disadvantage. And in more ways than one.
“Cal knows me so well that he’ll know exactly what I’m going to try and do when I’ve got the ball,” Muldoon added.
“It’s the same for me with him, but I’m an attacker and he’s a defender so I’m the one who is going to be trying to get past him, not the other way around.
“It’s also a disadvantage that he knows a lot about our tactics and how we set up and if his new manager wants that information then he’s entitled to ask Cal. It’s unfortunate, but we can’t do anything about it.
“Cal is also one of the best headers of the ball in the National League. Add him to a team that already features two giants in Liam Daly and Alex Gudger as well as Paul McCallum, who scored 19 out of his 26 goals last season with his head, and it goes without saying that we can’t afford to give away too many set-pieces.
“Solihull can definitely hurt you, they’re a very good side, however our lads are all buzzing and ready to go and I do think we’ll beat them on Saturday.”