Ryan Fallowfield 'didn't want to be one of those who had to' leave Harrogate Town

Ryan Fallowfield has conceded that Harrogate Town do need to “freshen things up” if they are to improve, but says that he wishes he was not one of those leaving the club this summer.

By Rhys Howell
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 10:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 10:17 pm
Ryan Fallowfield made 34 appearances for Harrogate Town during the 2021/22 season. Pictures: Matt Kirkham
Ryan Fallowfield made 34 appearances for Harrogate Town during the 2021/22 season. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The 26-year-old right-back is among eight out-of-contract players who will exit Wetherby Road ahead of the 2022/23 campaign as Sulphurites boss Simon Weaver plans a major overhaul of his squad.

Speaking earlier this month, the Town chief explained his decision to release the popular defender as being for the best as far as both his team and the player himself were concerned.

“We can’t keep everybody for 10 years. Sometimes players need freshening up, and sometimes a club does too,” Weaver said.

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Ryan Fallowfield, left, and Jack Muldoon at Wembley Stadium having helped Harrogate Town to a first-ever promotion to the Football League courtesy of a 3-1 win over Notts County in the 2019/20 National League play-off final.

And, while Fallowfield shares the view that change was needed at Harrogate and insists that he respects his manager’s opinion, he feels he still has plenty to offer.

“I’m gutted to be going. I knew that a lot of people would be leaving this summer, but I was kind of fifty-fifty as to whether I would be one of them,” he told the Harrogate Advertiser.

“Obviously I was out of contract, so I knew it could happen and I just had a feeling, a bit of an inkling that I would be off.

“I think that if you look at the way the last two seasons have played out, you would say that the club does need to freshen things up. I just didn’t want to be one of the ones who had to go.

“The gaffer feels that I need a fresh challenge, and he’s probably right to a degree, however I would have loved to have stayed.

“I’m only 26. I feel as if I have still got a lot to give. As a team, Harrogate Town have got something to prove at League Two level, and so do I as a player. But, that’s just football and I just have to accept the decision and move on.”

Fallowfield departs Harrogate having achieved plenty during his second spell at Wetherby Road.

He initially joined Town on loan from Hull City during the 2014/15 campaign before signing on a permanent deal in the summer of 2017.

He helped the club to promotion via the play-offs from National League North at the end of that season, then repeated the trick as the Sulphurites secured an historic elevation to the Football League just over two years later.

In 2021, he was part of the side that won the delayed 2019/20 FA Trophy final, Harrogate beating Concord Rangers 1-0 at Wembley.

“I’ve experienced a lot with this club, there have been some great achievements,” he added.

“I think that every kid’s dream is to play at Wembley, and I can’t see anything I do in the game ever really beating the experience of doing that twice in a year.

“Even my first year back at the club was brilliant when we got promoted out of National League North. We signed a lot of new players, you wondered if we’d all gel and it was exciting to be a part of it as it all came together.

“I’ve really enjoyed being here. I can’t say otherwise, I can’t lie and say it hasn’t been a great experience. I’ve had some brilliant team-mates and looked forward to going into training every day and to playing every game.

“I’m disappointed to be moving on, but I honestly do wish the club all the best for the future and I want to say a big thank you to the gaffer, Thirs [Paul Thirlwell] and to everyone who has supported me during my time at Harrogate, particularly the fans, who’ve always been great with me.”

As fond as the majority of his memories of his time at Town will be, Fallowfield concedes that the way he bowed out as a Harrogate player is tough to take.

Being stretchered off in agony during the second half of Good Friday’s 4-1 home defeat to Swindon having suffered an avulsion fracture of two groin tendons was hardly an ending befitting of someone who has given so much for the cause.

“Obviously that’s something that I have just got to live with for the rest of my career,” he continued.

“All the good things that have happened while I’ve played for this club, and that’s the way I went out. It is a shame really but now I'm just focused on getting back fit again as soon as possible."