From the Terraces: Wowed by FA Cup draw after another good day out for Harrogate Town supporters

Harrogate Town supporter Dave Worton’s view on the 2019/20 campaign.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 11:15 am
A total of 228 Harrogate Town supporters turned out to cheer their team on at The Sha. Picture: Matt Kirkham

We’re singing in the away seats at Halifax for the third time this year.

It’s the FA Cup fourth qualifying round. Town are 2-1 up and successfully holding our Yorkshire rivals at bay, on the back of a seven-match unbeaten run with four victories in the last five.

Can life possibly get any better?

Then from behind us for several minutes, an angry voice rises: “Come on Weaver, make a substitution! Useless! Do you know what you’re doing? TAKE THE FRONT TWO OFF!” Or words to that effect.

Some people are never happy.

After a while, my daughter Molly turns to me and says “I hope Weaver doesn’t make a substitution now and we win with the same players on the pitch.”

She’s inherited my stubborn streak sure enough, but I share her pain. It’s quite a concession on her part though, seeing as Jack Emmett’s on the bench.

“Who put the ball in the Shaymen’s net?”

Let me take you back to 3pm. Town supporters are buoyantly reminding Halifax fans of the last time we met three weeks ago, and so are the players, taking the game to the home side in probably the best half of football I’ve seen them play this season.

It’s partly due to Town wanting it more and partly due to the fact that the hosts are standing off, applying no pressure to the visiting players when they’re on the ball.

I said it three weeks ago, and I’ll say it again, how on earth are Halifax top of the table? Town really do have nothing to fear this season.

We’re eight minutes in and Mark Beck takes advantage of Brendan Kiernan wreaking havoc down the right wing.

It’s one of those immensely satisfying goals, as he reacts first, smashing the loose, bouncing ball high into the net, after the home keeper heroically tips a goal-bound header from his own defender onto the cross-bar.

“Who put the ball in the Shaymen’s net? Twice!”we roar in the away end.

Oh to be a fly on the wall in the home dressing room at half-time, as Halifax come back out like a team that’s had the hairdryer treatment.

Five passes into the re-start and it’s level at 1-1, Town’s first touch of the ball is James Belshaw picking it out of the back of his net.

The Shaymen should put another couple away in a frantic spell as Town appear to be buckling.

Then, out of the blue, nine minutes in, another great piece of play down the right gets Jack Muldoon in behind the home defence and he squares for Beck to sweep the ball in. Who else?

“Who put the ball in the Shaymen’s net? Thrice!”

It’s a goal very similar in build-up to his winner here in the league three weeks ago, and you can see the Halifax players’ heads drop.

Sure enough, substitutions duly made, Town safely see the match out to the sheer joy of the impressive turnout of 228 travelling fans.

“Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, we’re going to Wemb-er-lee” rings out around a rapidly emptying Shay.

Not that it was too full to start with as, despite a welcome reduction in admission prices, home fans only number 13 over a thousand.

The players come across to celebrate with us in front of the away section and we exit, looking forward to the first round draw.

Now, if you’re looking for an indicator as to how far Town have come in the last few years, then look no further than this.

Time was, getting to the FA Cup first round proper was a great achievement, following a lengthy run in the competition, now it’s one match and we’re there.

Mind you, drawing the top team in the National League two seasons on the trot hasn’t made it easy progress.

So, it’s in a shared state of excitement, tinged with nervousness, that Molly and I sit down on Monday evening to watch the draw live on the BBC, something I haven’t done for more years than I care to remember, and something Molly has never done.

The Beeb’s at Maldon & Tiptree FC and, after establishing that the stock answer to “who do you want in the next round? is “the bye’” the draw finally gets underway.

We’re not hopeful, fully expecting a long wait, to then draw someone like Dover or Eastleigh away from home, when seventh pick in, out comes Town’s ball.

“Number 60, Harrogate Town, eighth in the National League, will play ...”

Time slows, I can hear my heart thumping.

“… Portsmouth,,.”

Portsmouth. It takes a moment to sink in. Wow! Simply wow!

Life just got appreciably better.