Location: CNG STADIUM, HARROGATE, NORTH YORKSHIRE, HG2 7SA – Phone: 01423 210600 – Harrogate Town AFC – Visit the website here
ABOUT HARROGATE TOWN AFC
Photo from https://www.harrogatetownafc.com/the-club/
Harrogate Town AFC strives at all times to provide the best of Football with excitement. The ground boasts has fantastic facilities, and provides a fantastic experience for their followers, and their families when they attend matches, being a club who consider family values first and do the utmost to ensure that fans and families feel safe when watching the matches.
Apart from the 1st team, the club tries to be at the heart of the community. They have a community Foundation Harrogate Town AFC Community Foundation is now an official charity, the main objectives of which are; to promote community participation in healthy recreation, improve the health and wellbeing of residents from Harrogate and District, engage people from different backgrounds in activities that will help bring the community together and create positive change.
The History below is that I have researched on the internet and in libraries and hopefully correct, however, history sometimes differs in the views of different historians. Should you find any errors, anything I might have missed or indeed anything I can include or research please email info@harrogate guide.co.uk
The History of Harrogate Town AFC
Harrogate Town Association Football Club is a professional association football club based in the spa town of Harrogate, The club will compete in League Two, the fourth tier of English football from the 2020–21 season after winning the 2019–20 National League play-offs.
Formed in 1914, the club is nicknamed “Town” and also the “Sulphurites”, due to Harrogate’s famous sulphur springs. The club’s colours are black and yellow and they play their home games at Wetherby Road (for a short period at the start of the 2020–21 season, the club will ground share at Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium.
People in the town of Harrogate had tried to put together a football team as far back as 1907 but it took until 1914 for Harrogate A.F.C. to be founded. They were entered into the Northern Football League in 1914 and were set to play their home fixtures at the County Ground, but the First World War meant all fixtures were postponed.
After the First World War, Robert Ackrill Breare instigated a meeting to discuss putting the club back together. Breare later became the secretary of the club, which entered into the West Riding County Amateur Football League.
Harrogate played their first competitive fixture on 30 August 1919 at Starbeck Lane Ground against Horsforth. They won the game 1–0 and the scorer was L. Craven with a headed goal. They were entered into the FA Cup the same year, losing to South Kirkby Colliery 4–0 in a 1Q replay. Harrogate also won their first trophy, the Whitworth Cup, with a 4–0 victory against Ripon City.
For the 1920–21 season, they were one of the founding teams in the new Yorkshire League, yet they also continued to field a team in the West Riding County Amateur Football League. The club had relocated to the new ground: Wetherby Road. Around the holiday periods, they took part in friendlies against higher league opposition including Liverpool at their Anfield ground, and another at fellow Yorkshire side Sheffield United in front of 15,000 fans.
They moved league once again for their third season, leaving the West Riding League and moving into the Midland Football League. It included the reserve teams of Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley. The club remained in the Yorkshire League, fielding a reserve team. However, the club resigned from the Midland’s league after only one season and reverting to fielding a first team in the Yorkshire League. The West Riding County Challenge Cup was won by Harrogate in 1925, with their 3–1 victory against Fryston Colliery at Elland Road.
League victory was secured in 1926–27, as Harrogate became the Yorkshire League champions, with Bob Morphet scoring 44 goals. The club then moved into the Northern Football League. Their second West Riding County Challenge Cup was won the same season against Selby Town. The team disbanded in 1932.
The town’s club was brought back in 1935 as Harrogate Hotspurs. After the Second World War, the club was renamed as Harrogate Town and played in the Yorkshire Association West Football League. Harrogate Town joined the Yorkshire League again in 1957. They spent many years in the Yorkshire Leagues during the 1960s and 1970s, and then became a founding member of the new Northern Counties East Football League in 1982. The club was looking to climb the newly instated football pyramid and so began to improve their ground, installing Floodlights. They played a friendly to mark the occasion against Leeds United, with Eddie Gray being the first to switch the lights on.
After a West Riding County Cup win in 1986, and five seasons in the Northern Counties East League, they became founding members of the Northern Premier League in 1987–88, after having been invited to join the new league. In 1990 the club became a limited company to fund construction of a new main stand, and in the same year, the club won the Northern Premier League First Division Cup. They spent 15 seasons in this league, twice narrowly avoiding relegation back to the Northern Counties East League. However, they won promotion to the Premier Division in 2001–02 after finishing as champions. During their first season in that division, they finished sixth, and for the first time in the club’s history, they reached the first round of the FA Cup, losing 5–1 to Farnborough Town of the Football Conference. Town also won the West Riding County Cup in both the 2001–02 and 2002–03 seasons.
After finishing fifth in the Premier Division in 2003–04, the club became founders of the newly established Conference North in 2004. During their FA Cup run in the 2005–06 season, Harrogate was drawn to play at Torquay United, their first cup game against Football League opposition. After drawing 1–1 at Plainmoor, they lost 6–5 on penalties after a 0–0 draw in the replay. At the end of the season, the club finished fifth and qualified for the promotion play-offs but lost 1–0 to eventual winners Stafford Rangers. At the end of the 2009–10 season, the club finished bottom of the Conference North and was due to be relegated. However, after Northwich Victoria were demoted due to financial problems, the club was reprieved.
Before the start of the 2011–12 season, Bill Fotherby handed control of the club to Irving Weaver, father of manager Simon Weaver. Tad Nowakowski, the father of player Adam, also joined the board to help improve community links. The 2011–12 season ended in a relegation dogfight, Harrogate saved on the last day thanks to a 5–0 away win at Corby Town. The 2012–13 season saw the team’s best run in the FA Cup. On 3 November 2012, they beat League Two team Torquay United 1–0 to go beyond the first round for the first time. Against Hastings United in the second round, they drew 1–1 at Wetherby Road, and the replay at Hastings also finished 1–1, due to a late goal from Harrogate’s Tom Platt. However, Town lost 5–4 on penalties. After a good start placing them in the top five at the beginning of the 2016–17 season, the team went on a long run of bad form. As a result, Weaver and other club officials decided that the players at the end of the season should be given full-time contracts to improve chances of promotion. Near the end of the 2016–17 season, the club announced that they would be going full-time the following season. Many players left the club following the club’s change to professionalism, and the club signed multiple midfielders and defenders before their pre-season home match against Leeds United. They began training as a full-time club on 3 July 2017.
On 13 May 2018, they won the National League North play-offs for the 2017–18 season beating Brackley Town in the play-off final earning promotion to the National League. The club finished sixth in their 2018–19 National League campaign, qualifying for the play-offs. They were beaten 3–1 by AFC Fylde in a playoff eliminator.
As the 2019–20 National League season was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, table positions were determined on average points-per-game, of which Harrogate Town had 1.78, placing them second and meaning they again qualified for the playoffs, this time in the semi-finals. In the semi-final, they beat Boreham Wood 1–0. On 2 August 2020, at Wembley Stadium, the club faced Notts County in the final and won 3–1, earning promotion to the English Football League for the first time in their history.