Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver is dreaming of Wembley glory

Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver will be “floating on air” if the club secure promotion in tomorrow’s National League play-off final.
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver with his Town ahead of tomorrow's Wembley final. 
Picture Gerard Binks.Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver with his Town ahead of tomorrow's Wembley final. 
Picture Gerard Binks.
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver with his Town ahead of tomorrow's Wembley final. Picture Gerard Binks.

The Wetherby Road outfit face Notts County in their maiden Wembley appearance as they look to claim a place in the Football League for the first time in their 106-year history.

Asked how it will feel if promotion is sealed, Weaver said: “Words probably couldn’t describe it.

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“For my mind, it will just be fireworks really, an absolute thrill if we could gain Football League status. Eleven years ago, I wouldn’t have ever dreamt of us being in the Football League.

Goalscorer Jack Muldoon of Harrogate Town celebrates with team-mate Ryan Fallowfield following the National League play-off semi-final victory over Boreham Wood.
Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.Goalscorer Jack Muldoon of Harrogate Town celebrates with team-mate Ryan Fallowfield following the National League play-off semi-final victory over Boreham Wood.
Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.
Goalscorer Jack Muldoon of Harrogate Town celebrates with team-mate Ryan Fallowfield following the National League play-off semi-final victory over Boreham Wood. Picture: George Wood/Getty Images.

“I’m sure I’d just be floating on air.

“It would be a massive deal for us, groundbreaking. Excitement levels would go through the roof – and they did at the weekend (when Harrogate beat Boreham Wood 1-0 in their semi-final).

“Running out as winners was just an amazing moment, when the final whistle blew and we were on our way to Wembley.”

Weaver, who last made a Wembley trip in 1993 aged 15 to watch Sheffield Wednesday’s FA Cup final replay defeat against Arsenal, added: “We are taking an 83-year-old (club president George Dunnington) and an 87-year-old (vice-president Clive Dunnington) who have been in Harrogate all their lives, have helped build the old stand.

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“One of them (George Dunnington) said ‘it is going to make my life, going to Wembley’. It is going to be an emotional day. It’s not just for ourselves, it’s for people like that who have the club at heart. It means a great deal.”

Weaver admits that after the 2019/20 National League season was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, at one point it looked “very bleak” in terms of his team – second in the table and just four points shy of top-spot – having the chance to go on and even being able to compete for promotion.

The picture subsequently changed and now, having beaten fifth-placed Boreham Wood on Saturday in their first match in more than four months, Town are preparing to take on a County outfit who finished third in the table and are aiming for an immediate return to League Two.

“They’ve got a lot of experience in their ranks, talented players, a really good manager in Neil Ardley and that weight of expectation driving them on, because they’re historically a huge club,” Weaver added.

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“The vast majority of our squad is still intact from when we were in the National League North play-offs two years ago.

“We haven’t got the experience, but we’ve got legs, energy and a shared purpose which is powerful. And there won’t be fans in the stadium but we’ll be doing it for our growing fanbase.

“I don’t think we can bow down in our heads, thinking we have to play second fiddle just because historically they are a much bigger club than us. It’s about now, about staying in the moment as much as we can.

“That’ll be a skill in itself because of the surroundings of Wembley, even when people aren’t supporting there. We have to put things to the back of our mind and try to treat it as another game.”

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Reflecting on Town’s victory over Boreham Wood, Weaver stated that he felt sheer desire fuelled his side on the day.

Having been denied the opportunity to try and chase down eventual champions Barrow, the Harrogate boss believes that his charges’ determination to finish the job via the play-offs – and earn a spot in League Two – shone through out on the pitch.

“Honestly, it’s about the players’ drive. They’re dreaming of it (promotion) and they just wouldn’t be denied,” Weaver revealed.

“I felt confident going into the game and the desire shone out of all the individuals. In the end, the overall desire got us through.

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“It makes a really good team because what we have is built on that atmosphere and team spirit.

“When you get that it makes for a special feeling in the changing room and a bundle of energy. They’re a joy to work with.”