Pic: Dennis Murphy
ON the face of it, Gloucester City manager Tim Harris’ holiday in Lanzarote should be one week-long party.
After all, he’s just jumped on a plane after a long hard season with two bits of good news to make the trip go with a swing.
First, work has begun on the club’s new stadium after ten years in exile and the Tigers – albeit kicking off next season at Evesham United – could even be home in a years’ time.
The second is that City have been shifted from the National League North until the National League South. While change isn’t always a good thing, for a manager looking for promotion it should surely raise a smile.
Travelling aside, the South is undoubtedly the one to be in if you want to be competitive. But saying goodbye to a league littered with big clubs with massive budgets hasn’t been met by wild celebrations in the Canary Islands.
“I wasn’t delighted by the news,” said Harris. “I’ve lost my goalkeeper Jasbir Singh as a result of it. He’s Birmingham-based, and that made things impossible.
“I have to say after spending so long in the North, I loved some of the trips but with Spennymoor, York City and Blyth Spartans coming into the league next season it is getting a bit demanding!
“In that league there are some big clubs as everyone knows. I would say there are 8-10 teams who are very, very competitive. There’s a lot of money and a lot of talent, it is quite a daunting league now.
“We had a fantastic year finishing tenth and I know how strong that division is but we’ll missing going to some great grounds and playing again some famous clubs.
“The South won’t be easier at all. I’ve experienced it with Newport County, it’s a great standard make no mistake so we’ll need to be ready.”
Harris desperately wants a good season. He knows if they club can keep things rolling over the next 14 months despite playing outside of the county for the first time then they could be returning in very good shape.
“If we’re all honest we know playing in Evesham will test the supporters but it’s my job to give them something to travel for and a team which will be worth watch,” the manager said.
“It’s a short-term sacrifice for something very special in the long run. This club has been trying and trying to get back home for a very long time and now we can see things happening.
“They’ve started work and they’re levelling the ground out as we speak. It’s an exciting time.
“We’ve signed a two-year agreement to share with Evesham. While it’s not ideal to be playing outside the area, we know we’ll feel at home there. We just need to get home.
“I would love to think that could be for the start of next season, but we have that extra year option just in case.
“When I played for the club we had 4,000, sometimes 5,000 for big matches. This new stadium is right in the heart of the city, unlike most these days which are out of town.”
Harris isn’t alone when it comes to having difficulty digesting the switch from the National League North to the South.
Tigers chairman Mike Dunstan also has questioned the decision, commenting: “As a club we have always enjoyed the National League North, it is an absolutely incredible competition full of teams with Football League and National League pedigree.
“We are disappointed at the decision to move us, but that’s no disrespect to any teams.
“It’s ironic that we are moving south as the club is playing slightly further north, but obviously the most important thing for the long term is that we move back to our own ground in Gloucester as quickly as we can.
“Only then can this club really thrive, and everyone is focused on that at this time as always.”