Harrogate Town meeting the opposition.
Tranmere’s final game before Christmas Day 2021 sees them come up against Harrogate Town at Prenton Park this Tuesday night. It’s a fixture in a competition that has divided opinion. However, with Rovers out of the other two available cup competitions they’ll be hoping a run in a competition can come from somewhere!
I spoke to Town supporter Dave Worton ahead of the midweek game and we discussed where the game may be won or lost, our thoughts on the Papa John’s Trophy, The Sulphurites on and off pitch positions amongst a range of other subjects.
How long have you supported Harrogate Town? Why and how did your love for the club come about?
Since February 2016, when I went to see them play FC United in the National League North. It was £1 in for kids, so I asked my daughter if she wanted to come. She initially turned me down but, just as I was on the way out of the door, she changed her mind as she had nothing better to do. One 5-0 victory later, she was exiting the ground with a £10 scarf (so much for a cheap day out) asking when the next match was. We haven’t looked back since.
Since you’ve been supporting the club, what have been your best and worst footballing experiences?
Best? There have been many, as you might imagine. An extra time 3-2 win at AFC Fylde in the FA Trophy Quarter Final just before the first lockdown, the first time we’d beaten them in something like twelve games, stands out. It was in the middle of Storm Jorge and wild celebrations from that day are captured on the cover of my book. Also turning over York City twice in our first ever competitive matches against them, beating Brackley Town 3-0 to gain promotion to the National League for the first ever time in the club’s history and gaining promotion to the Football League, of course. Defeating Bradford City twice last season would also have been well up there, if only we could have attended. It’s just not the same on Ifollow.
Worst? Not being able to attend Wembley to see either the FA Trophy Final or the National League Play-Off Final in the space of a few months due to Covid.
You’ve written a book that has been praised by fellow fans, could you explain what that book is about and when did it come out?
Yes, it’s called ‘For The Love Not The Glory’. It’s telling the story of my daughter and I unbelievably following Harrogate Town into the Football League. I serialised it all via a weekly column in the local paper and realised I had enough for a book during lockdown. It came out a year ago. There’s plenty of self-deprecating humour in there, as I recount our adventures and the ups and downs of a football fan.
Random fact about Harrogate Town? (The club/The area)
We’re the only Football League club to win the FA Trophy, thanks to the pandemic and having to play the 2020 Final in 2021.
How would you describe The Sulphurite’s campaign so far and what are your hopes/expectations for the season ahead?
We started off like a bullet from a gun and hopes were high for a promotion push. but things have tailed off in the last few weeks, as our small squad has suffered injuries and a little bit of fatigue. A recent game saw us with only two senior outfield players available on the bench. Nevertheless, tenth in the league is something I would have taken before the season began and, if we use the loan transfer window as well as the last season, there’s no reason we can’t get into the play-offs this year. On their day, the players we have are as good as any team in this league, Forest Green maybe excepted!
Taking a look at Tuesday night’s game, who would you say are the key players for either side?
Falkingham, Kerry and Pattison in midfield are key for us, as we switched to 4-3-3 in recent weeks, with two offensive wide players and the full backs sitting slightly further back. Having one less striker up front though means we’ve found goals harder to come by. Luke Armstrong is our goalscorer to watch out for, but he’s been a little more isolated recently.
How do you believe the fixture will be approached by visiting manager Simon Weaver, in terms of tactics and team selection?
I think he may rest one of the central midfielders and revert to 4-4-2 with two wingers and two forwards. He’ll rotate the players he has on the bench, but they’re all basically first team players anyway, so the team will be strong.
What are your thoughts on the manager and owner’s relationship, they are father and son which isn’t quite normal in football.
No it’s not. Simon was the manager for two seasons before his dad came in. It works well, and I like the stability it’s brought to the club with our manager being the longest-running manager in the Football League. Winning helps of course!
Thoughts on Tranmere, as a club in general?
You’re forever associated with Half Man Half Biscuit in my mind, them being one of my favourite bands. I’ve been to Prenton Park before, with Wolves in the old Third Division. I always see you as a team that should be at least near the top of League One. You looked a good outfit at our place earlier in the season.
The Papa John’s Trophy is a competition that has divided opinion since the introduction of Premier League reserve sides, your thoughts on the competition?
Mixed. I originally saw this match as an unwanted extra before our short trip to Bradford City on Boxing Day, especially with the small squad we have. Now Bradford’s been called off, I’m going to enjoy it more. Saying that, I remember when it was the Sherpa Van Trophy in the late eighties and Wolves played in it for the first time. At first interest and crowds were low, until we went all the way to Wembley and 80,000 turned up at a sold-out Wembley to watch us and Burnley. It was a brilliant day out. I’d like to do that again with Town, to make up for the disappointment of not being able to go to Wembley previously and, let’s face it, we don’t have much chance of that in the FA Cup.
The January transfer window is fast approaching, who would you like to see brought into the club?
Another central defender, two central midfielders to supplement the three we have and Mohammed Salah up front would be nice!
Finishing off, your score prediction for the midweek game at Prenton Park?
2-1 Town. Sorry. Our current away form is better than our home form.
- The discussed book ‘For the love not the glory’ is available to purchase via this link for the cost of £10.