How Harrogate Railway have turned Corner in 2014-15

Harrogate Railway chairman Nigel Corner
Harrogate Railway chairman Nigel Corner

Fourth in the table and through to the quarter-finals of their respective league cup, it’s fair to say Harrogate Railway have surprised everyone this season.

The goals have flown in – at both ends – and players have flourished in an attacking system implemented by manager Billy Miller.

Away from the field too work has been paying off too. The financial restrictions of old are falling under control and the club’s committee has set about on a mission to make Station View a hub of the community again.

Nigel Corner took over as chairman in pre-season, and his first season could not have gone much more above plan.

His gamble to provide supporters will a ‘fan free’ day for the Salford City clash over the Christmas period welcomed 400 people through the gates. And the annual bonfire held next to the Station View clubhouse had more than 1,500 people attend on November 5, a steep rise from the previous year.

On the pitch, the results have reversed after a horror opening month and it has left them punching well above their weight in a league of former heavyweights.

Corner said: “I’m really enjoying it. It’s a great privilege to be in this position.

“I have been involved in this football pitch since I was seven years old.

“When people asked me to become chairman, it was a no brainer. Why would you turn it down? To be chairman of the football club you love, doing something you love.

“It’s up to me now to do a good job so that when my initial two-year tenure is up, if I want to carry on then the members are happy for me to carry on.

“But it’s just great to be in the environment around the team, the management and the committee.

“There’s a great camaraderie right through the club.”

Having risen into the play-off mix, questions have now been asked. Can Miller take Railway up, and if so, are they ready?

“We can make ourselves ready,” said Corner.

“We could finish in the play-offs. No question about that. We are good enough, we have show that consistently enough against the best teams in the league,

“The key is just to enjoy it.”

However, this season’s success has brought the attention of bigger clubs. Players have been scouted and rarely a week goes by without the phone ringing with another offer.

Earlier this month, Corner had his biggest challenge to date as he negotiated sale of prolific goalscorer Nathan Cartman to promotion favourites Darlington 1883.

It was the first time, many believe, that Railway have sold a contracted player.

With a handsome fee and two pre-season fixtures between the clubs agreed, Corner earned the adulation of boss Billy Miller for negotiating a deal that would benefit Railway for years to come.

The high-flying form has raised further issues for Corner, though, and the prospect of offers to take Miller away is raising by the win.

“That’s something we are very aware of and I speak to Billy on a very regular basis,” Corner added.

“He came up with a three year plan, and that is up at the end of the season,. I am already in discussions with him over next season and next season’s budget, and that will help him.

“He’s doing an amazingly good job. There will be teams interested in coming knocking and then it will be down to Billy.

“But Billy enjoys it here, you can see that. If he gets an offer from a bigger club, he would go with our blessing because he has done wonders for this club.

“Hopefully we don’t have to have the conversation for a long time.”