Irving Weaver pleased with Harrogate Town's debut Football League campaign
Irving Weaver declared himself pleased with Harrogate Town’s first-ever season as a Football League club.
Promoted to the fourth tier having triumphed in the National League play-off final last summer, the Sulphurites finished the campaign well clear of the relegation zone in 17th place and also bagged the 2019/20 FA Trophy final to boot.
Things have not been all plain sailing for the Wetherby Road outfit, but chairman Weaver feels that his team can be proud of their efforts given the challenges they have had to overcome.
“I’m very pleased, it’s been a very good first season in the Football League particularly when you consider the two big factors that we have had to contend with,” he told the Harrogate Advertiser.
“Everyone has been in the same position with regards Covid-19 and the absence of fans, but our lads barely had two weeks off between beating Notts County in the play-off final and having to report back for pre-season training.
“It’s been a gruelling schedule and tiredness was always going to play a part because they just didn’t get enough rest in the summer.
“The other big thing has been the pitch. It has been a problem this season. The new grass didn’t have time to bed in properly, so it has been difficult to play attractive football at home.
“When you’ve been used to playing a certain way for a period of time – and it’s brought you a lot of success – it’s not easy to find another way, but credit to Simon [Weaver] and the players for adapting and for everything they have achieved.”
All being well, Town will not be hindered by such issues next term. Work has already begun on relaying the EnviroVent Stadium turf, which was installed in a hurry last August once it was confirmed that their 3G surface needed to be replaced due to Football League status being attained.
Meanwhile, the club’s players have been ordered to put their feet up for the next few weeks at least having played their final game of the season at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Weaver added: “The grass will be sorted this summer and hopefully next season we will see a return to the style that Simon [Weaver] and his team have delivered in recent years.
“Simon was desperate for the lads to take their holidays and forget about football for a period of time because they just didn’t have the opportunity to do that last summer.”
Bank Holiday Monday’s FA Trophy victory over Concord Rangers saw Town round-off the season in style and Weaver admitted that he never could have imagined taking the club to two
Wembley finals and the EFL when he first assumed control of a mid-table National League North club back in 2011.
“Of course I couldn’t have foreseen the success we have had,” he said.
“We’ve always just tried to take it one year at a time and then looked to improve each season. That has been the mantra.
“We always thought that with hard work and a strong team spirit we could be successful, but I didn’t ever expect to be going to Wembley twice in the space of nine months.
“I’m very proud of what we have achieved, proud for the town as well and proud of the fact that the core of players who took us out of National League North are still with us in League Two.
“These two Wembley wins do feel like pay back but to be honest, the paybacks just keep on coming.”