Simon Weaver certain that Harrogate Town have made progress on and off the pitch during 2021/22 season

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver believes that the club has made progress both on and off the field during the 2021/22 campaign.

By Rhys Howell
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 10:06 am
Updated Thursday, 12th May 2022, 10:09 am
Simon Weaver applauds Harrogate Town's supporters following the club's final game of the season, a 2-0 home defeat to Sutton United. Pictures: Matt Kirkham
Simon Weaver applauds Harrogate Town's supporters following the club's final game of the season, a 2-0 home defeat to Sutton United. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The Sulphurites finished their second season as a Football League outfit 19th in the League Two standings, two places and four points worse off than last term.

And, while Weaver concedes there is no escaping the final league standings, he says that Town are better equipped behind the scenes and in terms of his playing squad than they were 12 months ago.

“I do feel that the club is in a better position,” he told the Harrogate Advertiser.

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

Harrogate Town finished 2021/22 with the joint-second-worst defensive record in League Two.

“It comes bit by bit and I think that off the pitch we have grown under the guidance of Sarah Barry and we have also got Jo [Towler] now on the commercial side and Abbey [Smith], our club secretary. These people are enabling us to grow and I do believe that it transmits to the playing side.

“We have come a long way off the pitch and it doesn’t half give us the reassurance that if we can now hold our nerve on it, we can build from where we are.

“Ending up 19th is a frustration because it is the first season that we have actually finished lower than the previous year for quite some time, but with this being my 13th season, hopefully it’s just the unlucky number 13.

“We do a lot of reflecting and I think we are a number of points worse off than where we should be. I think we’ve got a better squad of players than we did last year, but we have left ourselves open too many times, too often we haven’t passed the ball well enough and so whatever team we put out next season, we need to be more in-control of games.”

With Town’s primary aim before a ball was kicked in 2021/22 simply to retain their Football League status, Weaver says that it is a case of ‘mission accomplished’ this term, though he admits that his side’s flying start raised even his own expectations.

The Sulphurites lost just one of their opening 13 matches in all competitions and were challenging at the top end of the table during the opening months of the campaign.

“If you’d have asked me before the season I’d have taken 19th because I’d have said that the aim was to stay up,” he added.

“We knew we would have to grit our teeth because there were always going to be ups and downs, but we wanted to make sure that we didn’t do what has happened to lots of clubs throughout the history of football when they go two leagues up.

"History suggests that it will catch up with you. So, we were prepared for some ups and downs, but were determined to stay up.

“The start we had, I don’t care how experienced you are in the game, you cannot help but want more and that’s what happened to me with the start of the season. So, if someone had said to me after 10 games that you will end up 19th, I would have been disappointed.”

Town’s fortunes have undoubtedly been affected by their inability to adequately protect their own goal and keep enough clean-sheets. As such, they ended the season with the joint-second-worst defensive record (75) in League Two after whipping boys Scunthorpe (90).

But, Weaver says that a brutal injury crisis and an unprecedented number of bad refereeing decisions have also contributed to their struggles.

“I do think we’ve had some bad luck in terms of the amount of injuries we’ve had, Covid-19 and the number of bad decisions that have gone against us,” he continued.

“It’s been the most difficult season in terms of being on the receiving end of some decisions and they all tally up, add up to goals and that can have a knock-on effect.

“I think we are probably 12 points better than what we’ve ended up on in terms of our performances, but it is what it is and that tally and league position are in the record books now.

“But having said that, we have got to look within and do what we can to improve the squad and our fortunes for next season. Of course we will be looking to be better next year.”