AFTER last year’s disappointment, Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver hopes their Boxing Day’s North versus West Yorkshire derby at home to high-flying Guiseley gets the green light.
A bumper crowd is expected for the battle between the local rivals (3pm).
With ex-Town faces Dave Merris, Gavin Rothery, Ciaran Toner and Lee Ellington in Guiseley’s squad it promises to add spice to the already white hot fixture, which will be reversed on New Year’s Day.
And Town’s latest capture could inject even more needle into the clash.
Guiseley midfielder Michael Brough signed at Wetherby Road ahead of Saturday’s game at Nuneaton.
The 30-year-old has played for Forest Green Rovers, Darlington and Mansfield to name but a few.
His first game for Town wasn’t the greatest start for the new recruit, as Weaver’s men slid to a 2-0 defeat at the play-off chasers.
Weaver has also signed 37-year-old Boston United defender Alan White this week. Another arrival is 19-year-old local lad Dan Clayton, who has plied his trade at West Yorkshire League outfit Boroughbridge.
The weather shouldn’t prove an obstacle on Boxing Day, despite icy conditions hitting North Yorkshire at the start of this week.
Town have not had many cancellations so far this season, unlike last year when their whole festive schedule was wiped out by the snow and ice.
But the biggest threat to their hopes is Steve Kittrick’s Guiseley themselves, who arrive in awesome form, sitting third in the table and hunting promotion.
“It’s important the game is on,” said Weaver.
“We missed out last year, we need the crowd, it’s extra revenue income and it’s great for the supporters, a local derby against another club from Yorkshire.
“Guiseley are a good side, with some good players that we know a lot about.
“They’ve got a few ex-Harrogate lads in there who will be looking to put one over on us, but we’ll be going out for the win, it really is an important game for us.
“It will give us a chance to have a look at them too before the New Year’s Day fixture.”
Jake Picton gave away a penalty by holding on to put Nuneaton in the ascendancy on Saturday, Danny Glover converting with ease in the last minute of the first half.
Twelve minutes after the restart, Adam Walker beat Mark Cook with a thunderous drive into the top corner.
Laurie Wilson threatened with a dipping volley and Paul Brayson and Craig Radcliffe both had chances but Nuneaton were comfortable winners.
Town’s last game of 2011 will draw the curtain on a more successful year than Weaver’s first in charge at Wetherby Road.
They finished a respectable 12th in the final Blue Square North rankings in April, significantly bettering their bottom placed finish in the previous season.
The boss’s third season at the helm started positively when they beat promotion favourites Altrincham 3-2 on the opening day of the season.
However since then, Town have slipped back to their inconsistent old ways, losing key fixtures away at Histon (4-0) and Solihull Moors (5-1) and October’s 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Hyde.
That came in the same month of their heart-breaking FA Cup exit against Frickley.
Weaver has challenged his side to improve in the second half of the season as they target a positive finish to the campaign.
“There’s been a gradual progression season by season,” he said.
“And we want to build on that next year.
“Of course we are going full-time next season which is a big step to take, but one we feel we need to do to progress.”
Looking back on the year Weaver said his side’s ten game unbeaten run last season was a highlight.
He also picked out their point to deny Alfreton the title at Wetherby Road in front of a huge crowd was also a plus point.
“Our performance at Boston was also good,” he added.
“The result over Colwyn Bay, was another; it was nice to see us battling in every position.
“We want more of that in the new year.”
Harrogate Town chairman Irving Weaver, Simon Weaver and director Tad Nowakowski spoke the Advertiser about their first six months in charge of the club. Turn to page 40.
Blue Square North pld pts
Hyde 23 55
Stalybridge 21 47
Guiseley 20 41
Nuneaton 21 40
Gainsborough 21 38
FC Halifax 21 36
Worcester 21 35
Corby 20 32
Altrincham 19 29
Droylsden 20 28
Boston Utd 21 28
Colwyn Bay 21 28
Gloucester 21 26
Harrogate Town 22 25
Histon 21 24
Solihull Moors 21 24
Workington 21 20
Vauxhall Motors 21 19
Bishop’s Stortford 20 19
Hinckley Utd 19 18
Eastwood Town 21 13
Blyth Spartans 20 12