Skrill North League: Harrogate Town target loan stars

Simon Weaver
Simon Weaver
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well-connected hARROGATE Town boss Simon Weaver is planning to utilise his contacts book in the coming weeks and months – to boost his club’s top-five tilt.

Weaver’s South Yorkshire connections have borne fruit recently in the shape of the capture of young Sheffield United loan duo Jahmal Smith and Joe Ironside, with the latter making his debut in the gritty 1-0 weekend win at Histon in Skrill North.

Born in Doncaster, Weaver, whose first professional club was Sheffield Wednesday, has strong contacts in South Yorkshire and he is busy using them for Town’s benefit, with his side having the look of bonafide play-off dark horses heading towards the business end of the campaign.

Ironside helped set up Town’s winner for Chris Hall at Histon, with Weaver admitting he owes the Blades a favour after they helped broker the 20-year-old’s move by contributing to his wages to facilitate the switch.

Weaver said: “I am very pleased with signing of both Jahmal and Joe. We have had Jahmal with us for a bit and he’s only 18, but is a raw talent. He is full of energy and his attitude is brilliant.

“I thought it might be harder to get Joe because he has played in the first team at Sheffield United and to get him to come to Harrogate Town is a bit of a result for us. They have helped us with the wages, which is a help.

“Both are two players who are young and want to prove themselves and score some goals for us and it’s great to inject into our squad at this moment in time.

“I’ve got to thank Nigel (Clough), who actually tried to sign me a couple of times when he was at Burton and he was a really nice guy. I also grew up playing with Chris Morgan at junior level and he is obviously on the coaching staff there and there’s a couple of good links for us.

“Hopefully, moving forward, our links can get stronger and stronger. They have already spoken to us about having a pre-season friendly, which is brilliant.

“Obviously, you can only have two players on loan from one club from any given time. But I’ve been up to see their head of academy recruitment at the start of last year and now with Nigel and Chris there, it’s a bit of a help to us. When you are friends, you have a bit more in common.

“I also have a good link-up at Barnsley, with Paul Heckingbottom, who runs the under-21s there being a brilliant lad as well, while at Sheffield Wednesday, one of my best pals is there in Steve Adams, who has the under-18s and I’ve been there a few times.

“My age group are coming through at the coaching levels and they are all good lads. At this level, you do need good links with professionals clubs and you can get young lads who are so hungry to succeed with their sole aim being to play first-team football for their parent clubs. But doing well for clubs like us, it can give them that chance.”

The new year has proved a richly rewarding one so far for Town, who are full of confidence ahead of a mouth-watering clash with fifth-placed Boston United at the CNG Stadium this coming weekend.

As it stands, Weaver’s side, in seventh place in the division, are currently two places and four points behind the Pilgrims, with a game in hand.

Their clash at York Street proved a thriller in October, with Town hitting back from a 3-0 interval deficit to draw 3-3, thanks to goals from Liam Hardy, Dominic Rowe and Dayle Southwell.

While a fixture back-log put paid to their hopes of success last season, Town’s current itinerary is far more friendly and for Weaver, it’s a case of carry on the good work.

“It six unbeaten in the leaguie, four wins and two draws, while we had that friendly win over Leeds and the West Riding County Cup games, which we won also.

“It’s been a nice run and for 2014, it’s a case of ‘so far, so good.’ It would be nice to extend it to put pressure on the play-off positions. We’ve still got a bit of work to do, but we are going the right way.

Lee Molyneux

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