'Proud' Harrogate Town chairman Irving Weaver praises players and fans following FA Cup tie
Harrogate Town chairman Irving Weaver said that he felt a sense of pride as he sat and watched Monday night’s FA Cup encounter with Portsmouth.
When he took over the club in 2011, they were attracting crowds of around 250 people on their way to a 12th-placed finish in English football’s sixth tier.
At the time, any suggestion that Town could hold their own in an FA Cup first-round proper tie against Pompey – winners of the competition in 2008 and losing finalists just two years later – would have been laughed at.
Yet, eight years on, that is the reality, with the National League promotion hopefuls giving their big-name opponents a real run for their money in front of a 3,408-strong audience at a much-improved CNG Stadium.
“The issues with the floodlights aside, I felt pretty proud,” Weaver reflected.
“The hard work and the cost that’s gone into it certainly feels vindicated on nights like these.
“It was a great occasion and terrific to see the ground full.
"The difference in the end was two great strikes. They were the finishes of craftsmen, and the kind you will rarely see at our level of football.
“The reality is that we are out of the competition, but I think that we’ll have got noticed because of the way we played in front of a big audience, and the fact that we stood up and didn’t go under when we fell behind.
A power outage which led to floodlight failure prior to kick-off threatened to ruin Town’s big night, and Weaver admitted that the situation caused him some anxiety.
“I was in the electrics room trying to make sure things got sorted and we couldn’t understand the overload,” he added.
“It was very disruptive and caused a lot of anxiety for everyone. We just had to wait for the National Grid to try and get to the bottom of it. In the end we got there by the skin of our teeth.
“My main concern was for the crowd of people stuck outside the ground in the rain, but supporters from both sides seemed to deal with it all in good humour.
"The fans were fantastic given the circumstances and despite the disruption and the worry I thought they were a credit to both clubs.
"Even though it was a very late finish and it was a wet, cold night, it was brilliant to see them wait behind at the end to clap the players off.
"All’s well that ends well.”