From the Terraces: The future is uncertain in more ways than one due to coronavirus

The latest instalment of Harrogate Town supporter Dave Worton’s weekly fan column.

Thursday, 12th March 2020, 7:26 am
Updated Thursday, 12th March 2020, 1:45 pm
Harrogate Town fans ultimately had to settle for just a point from Saturday tea-times televised National League clash with Bromley. Picture: Matt Kirkham

With the depressing news this week of the slow spread of Covid-19 worldwide and the subsequent nationwide lockdown in Italy, we currently find ourselves looking into an uncertain future.

How things are going to pan out is anyone’s guess, but it seems fairly certain that things are going to get a whole lot worse before getting better.

Only time will tell what sort of restrictions we see placed on domestic football, and whether we see people choosing to self-isolate in such circumstances.

To this end, we have to take our enjoyment where and when we can, so I’ll start this column with a joyous re-telling of the Chesterfield victory last week.

It’s Tuesday evening, and we’re heading down to Derbyshire on a full coach. It’s going to be a late night for Molly, but I won’t tell school if you don’t.

On arrival, a full hour early, there’s not a lot to do other than visit the sprawling retail park next door.

There’s a huge Tesco, accessed via one of those flat escalators for trolleys, so we amuse ourselves by walking backwards on it, only to find ourselves being starred at in bemusement by the locals.

"Haven’t they seen anyone having fun before?" I say to Molly when, in reality, the good people of Chesterfield are probably all wondering why people from Harrogate haven’t yet learned how to use escalators properly.

Suitably fed, watered and amused, we head for the Spireites' smart new stadium.

The match itself is a pulsating encounter which ebbs and flows in favour of first one team and then the other.

When Chesterfield peg Town back to 3-3 with eight minutes to go, it’s a huge disappointment, but I manage to settle for a decent point against a dangerous home side. Not so Town.

The home side may have Tom Denton, their towering striker, who is involved in all three goals tonight and virtually unplayable in the air, but we have Jon Stead and Jack Diamond.

Stead puts away two majestic headers in probably his best game for Town, and Diamond is a revelation down the left wing.

Having already played a huge part in the first goal, directly assisted the second and third goals, and seen a perfectly good goal chalked off by an unfathomable refereeing decision, you could forgive him for easing off.

But confidence is a wonderful thing and, having nearly scored in injury-time himself, he once again runs at the weary home defence, before picking out Jack Muldoon in the 93rd minute for the winning goal.

There’s disbelief and wild abandon in the away end. Last year’s 1-0 success here was superb enough, but this blows it out of the park.

Such an unbelievable rollercoaster of a victory it is, that it renders me speechless. No easy task, I can tell you.

With print deadline looming on the Wednesday morning, I hit writer’s block. How on earth can I do justice to what I’ve just seen, in a rushed hour on the coach journey back?

We’d also promised my wife that Molly would get some sleep on the way back. Absolutely no chance.

Moving on to Saturday, things start to get serious.

With Barrow losing at home for the first time since September, an evening BT Sports victory for Town against an out-of-sorts Bromley will take them to within two points of the summit.

It’s obvious that Bromley saw the match in midweek, as every time Diamond receives the ball he’s surrounded by two or three defenders.

I find myself screaming out for Town to stretch the Bromley defence by using George Thomson, often in space, on the opposite flank.

After a tight, goalless first half, it looks like my prayers have been answered early into the second.

Muldoon finally gets in down the right and crosses for Diamond to sweep the ball into the net in front of a noisy Kop. The sense of sheer excitement, coupled with relief, is palpable.

It seems like Town might blow the visitors away with their intensity for an all-too-brief spell, but gradually Bromley take control as the hosts struggle to get out of their own half.

It still looks like we may hang on for a famous victory, but a late equalising own goal punctures our dreams. All of a sudden, you can hear a pin drop in the Kop. Never have I heard it go so quiet, so quickly.

Disappointing though it is, it’s no more than the visitors deserve, and I can’t help feeling that the exertions at Chesterfield in midweek have taken their toll on the Town players.

Bromley may be on a bad run, but they’re still a decent team, and that’s twice this season they’ve pegged us back from winning positions.

So the week ends in a tale of two late goals, one cancelling the other out.

It’s undoubtedly a lost opportunity to put more pressure on Barrow. But, in fairness, the league is never going to be decided over one weekend in early March.

There’s still a long way to go between now and the end of the season, and there’ll be a few twists and turns along the way. The positive aspect is that we’ve gained another point on the leaders and they’ve still to come to Wetherby Road.

Whoever holds their nerve the best will win it.

Yes, the future is uncertain in more ways than one.