Weaver eager to mix it with the big boys as Town seal place

hsb  Paul Bolland playing for Harrogate Town against Blyth Spartans.  (120409M3a)
hsb Paul Bolland playing for Harrogate Town against Blyth Spartans. (120409M3a)

THE 2012/13 Blue Square North will be an exciting place to be - and Harrogate Town are ready to mix it with the big boys according to boss Simon Weaver.

Chester, Kettering, at the moment Darlington and either Bradford Park Avenue or FC United of Manchester will visit Wetherby Road next season.

Throw in the possibility of FC Halifax or Guiseley failing to get through the play-offs, and there’s some mouth-watering fixtures to look forward to.

Town’s 5-0 thrashing of Corby Town on Saturday, sealed their place in the make up, which has already whetted Weaver’s appetite.

“It would be nice to slip under the radar, get through pre-season and then back to it,” he said.

“We’re going to be so unfancied it’s untrue. I’m just so glad we didn’t have to take the Blue Square North flags down.

“There’s going to be some big games next season, I can’t wait. There won’t be many teams with plans like ours over the summer, starting up an Academy and getting the bulldozers in to level the ground.

“It’s all happening and we’re planning already for the start.”

Weaver hopes he can keep the same nucleus of players who helped the club out of relegation trouble in the final few weeks of the season.

Although not naming the players he wants to keep, he is confident of retaining a strong side.

“We’ve got a great core now,” he said.

“After Christmas it wasn’t working. We brought in the likes of Michael Brough, Alan White, Paul Bolland and Robbie Youhill. They were key signings for us.

“Next season we want to finish higher than 15th, but to do that we want to keep the nucleus of players that have done well for the club.

“We know the players we are after now. When we sign them we want to scrutinise players, to see if they are the right ones for us.

“It’s written in their contract that they have to stay behind after the game, to have a drink with the fans. There’s no Balotellis here, we want everyone to be salt of the earth people, who love their football and will love playing for Harrogate Town.”

Meanwhile, Weaver revealed they are mooting the possibility of delaying going full-time next term, if it hinders the make-up of his squad.

“We still want to set up an Academy, but it is an option,” he said.

“We’ve got to be sensible with it. It’s about getting the best team possible in our budget. It could well mean the lads further away aren’t prepared to do that so we’ll have to play it by ear.

“But the most important thing, we’ve got a good vibe here now.

“We’re together as a team and want success for this football club.”

Town travelled to Corby last Saturday knowing a win would secure their Blue Square North status.

A nervy first half saw them enter the break goalless and attention quickly turned to Stalybridge where nearest rivals Hinckley simply had to win to stay up.

That game was evenly poised at 2-1 to the home side at the break.

“We told the players the Hinckley score, and they just roared, I didn’t need to say anything else after that,” said Weaver.

“They knew what was needed, and to be completely honest, I knew they were going to win the second half.

“To score five away from home and under that pressure was a fantastic performance.”

A Richard Pell brace, plus goals by Paul Bolland, Jonny Allan and Tom Platt’s 20-yard drive ensured Town a historic victory.