By Matt Badcock
Simon Weaver has told his Harrogate Town players to stay in dreamland – but knows they will have to rip up their 3G pitch if they do reach the EFL.
Town, promoted through the National League North play-offs last season, are right in the hunt for a top-seven finish in the National League.
A hot start built the platform for their play-off push and despite some sticky results over the festive period, two wins out of three ahead of yesterday’s game against Chesterfield has them firmly in the picture.
“Everything’s to play for, that’s for sure and if someone had said at the start of the season we’d have been in dreamland,” Weaver told The NLP. “We’ve just got to go for it – take the handbrake off and have a real good go.
“We’re quite positive and ambitious so you don’t discount being in this position before the season kicks off. But it’s magic. The carrot is there now, with 14 games to go, to give it everything we’ve got when there’s not that much pressure on us. It’s not a free hit, because we care so much, but it’s an opportunity and that’s all we can ask for.
“We need to return to being a bit more resilient at the back, but they’re all capable.”
Harrogate are thriving on their artificial pitch but, under Football League rules, will have to replace it with natural grass if they want to go up and avoid demotion back to Step 2.
“We’ll probably roll it up and use it elsewhere, but we’ll sort that should it happen,” Weaver said. “It’s tricky and blows the business plan. Right now, as we speak, there’s an U7s team on the pitch wearing Harrogate Town kit. So we’d have to relocate them and you don’t want them to not have their football on their facility or their parents come and watch.
“It’s a beautiful night now, kids on the pitch is a massive part of our progression as a club.
“It’s not agreeable to everyone, but the pitch suits a good game of passing football. Everyone is entitled to their opinion – it’s just a shame it’s non-negotiable.”