Season preview: Harrogate Town boss happy to sail under radar ahead of National North campaign

A delighted Paul Clayton. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1502213AM)
A delighted Paul Clayton. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1502213AM)
  • Town begin season away at Brackley Town
  • Weaver hopeful of play-off challenge
  • ”I think we have got a good enough squad to do well”
  • Town 25-1 to win National North with leading bookmaker
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Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver is hoping the bookmakers have it wrong for a second year running, as his squad embark on their new National North campaign.

Town begin the season this weekend with a long-distance trek south to Brackley Town, a firm examination of how the newly crafted squad have gelled over the pre-season months.

Brackley have been earmarked as one of the favourites for the league title this season, after a recruitment drive to bring back several players of their successful campaign of two years ago.

Town, on the other hand, are outsiders in the early betting – a stark contrast to last year’s early favouritism which was soon proved incorrect.

But the oddsmakers’ concerns about his squad are not playing on the mind of Weaver.

“They got it wrong last year, they may well get it wrong again,” he said on the eve of the new season.

Paul Thirlwell has been brought in to hold a calm figure in midfield (Photo: Caught Light Photography)

Paul Thirlwell has been brought in to hold a calm figure in midfield (Photo: Caught Light Photography)

“This year, we have kept it all quite under the radar and hopefully we have made some astute signings and got a hungry group.

“No one is really talking about us.

“We haven’t been mentioned in any tipster columns or blogs, but that suits us.

“They will probably look at the players that have left, but maybe I am quite confident we have a bit more than this time last year.

They got it wrong last year, they may well get it wrong again”

Simon Weaver on the bookmakers odds

“We’re certainly going to be more competitive and we just can’t wait to get going.”

The short-price for promotion last season soon disappeared as Town got off to a woeful start, leaving them with a relegation battle and an eventual 15th placed finish.

Since then, former captain Shane Killock, forwards James Walshaw, Jake Speight, Dom Rowe and Ashley Worsfold and local lads Adam Nowakowski and Simon Lenighan have all been amongst the players to exit the CNG Stadium.

The experienced head of Carlisle legend Paul Thirlwell has been shipped in to marshal the midfield, while Dom Knowles returns to lead the ranks up top and Bradford Park Avenue winger Joe Colbeck will provide the support.

Defenders Danny Ellis and Andy McWilliams both achieved promotion from the Conference North last year, and bring another edge to the defensive area.

Youth has also been given a chance, with Weaver offering terms to academy teenager Rob Worrall and triallist Connor Bower.

After a summer of signing big reputation players 12 months ago, Weaver admitted lessons were learnt in the transfer window this time around.

The boss added: “I think we have got a good, strong, solid, squad. We have no prima-donnas, a straight forward game plan with a bit of luck and with the wind behind us regarding injuries,

“I think we have got a good enough squad to do well.

“Nobody can argue that we haven’t gone from one extreme to the other.

“It won’t be proved whether I have made the right decisions until the end of the season but you look at the mix we have got, and we’ve got a full balance of ages.

“The experience lads are all a good age but they are good leaders too.

“They like playing with younger lads and they want to help them, that’s maybe a difference we have got this season.”