Joe Cracknell aiming to make Harrogate Town number one jersey his own
Joe Cracknell admits he was relieved to be offered a new contract at Harrogate Town, but having put pen to paper on that deal, he is hopeful of establishing himself as the Sulphurites’ number one.
The 26-year-old goalkeeper was one of only nine players whose deal expired this summer to be offered the chance to extend his stay at Wetherby Road into 2021/22.
And having started each of the club’s final six fixtures of the season just gone after spending almost the entirety of his Town career playing second fiddle to James Belshaw, he is now aiming to make that position between the sticks his own.
“It was a strange one because I got a good run of games towards the back end of the season and I thought I did alright, but before I spoke to the gaffer I was aware that a few lads were going to be leaving,” Cracknell said.
“So, it was a relief when I talked to him and we had a good conversation and luckily he said that they were happy with me and offered me another year. I was more than happy to stay. I was over the moon.
“I’ve taken a lot of confidence from my recent performances – particularly because I’d just come back from a three-month injury and when you go a long time without playing there’s more pressure when you do get your chance.
“I’m hoping to take that confidence into pre-season and then hopefully into the new season. Fingers crossed I can keep hold of the number one shirt.
“There’s a lot more to come from me. I’m only 26, and when you consider goalkeepers can play into their late 30s now, I believe I can still develop and improve.”
Cracknell’s run of six consecutive starts through April and May saw him don the gloves for Town’s FA Trophy final win over Concord Rangers at Wembley, an experience he says was special to him.
“It must have been the longest wait to play in a cup final ever, but it was definitely worth the wait," he added
"Walking out at Wembley was just unbelievable and then to go on and win the Trophy was obviously fantastic."
Like the rest of Town's players, Cracknell is currently enjoying a few weeks of rest and recuperation following on from a gruelling couple of years during which the Sulphurites barely got a break between campaigns.
But, he says he already has one eye on pre-season.
"It's nice just to put the feet up, forget about football for a bit and catch up with some family now that lockdown rules have changed," the former Hull City and Bradford City stopper continued..
"We were definitely ready for a rest, but I'm trying to keep myself active and do plenty of walking because you need to go back for pre-season in decent shape.
"As soon as you go back it is about making sure you make the most of every training session and getting yourself into the best possible place, so you are as ready as you can be when the matches start.
"All the lads are excited about the friendly against Newcastle United. It's not often you get chance to test yourself against Premier League players, so it's a great opportunity for us all."