Harrogate Town

A pleasant visit for completists doing the 92

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Transformed by two successful play-offs in three seasons, Harrogate Town reached the Football League for the first time in 2020 after a memorable and much-deserved victory over Notts County. Their 3-1 win justified a decision made three years earlier by chairman Irving Weaver, father of club manager Simon, to make Town a full-time operation. Beating the oldest professional club in the world proved fitting.

Although Town have their own long history – it was exactly 101 years between their first competitive fixture, in the West Riding League, and Wembley – the Yorkshire club spent 99 of them at regional level. Harrogate equally benefitted from the wherewithal and business savvy of Weaver senior, whose own career has been tied to running the family building firm.

His experience came in handy when it came to installing a 3G pitch at century-old Wetherby Road – only to have to take it up again and lay down grass instead for Town’s debut campaign in League Two in 2020-21. After playing a handful of home games at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium, Harrogate came home to Wetherby Road, renamed the EnviroVent Stadium, whose 5,000 capacity could then not be tested during a pandemic-hit campaign.  

EnviroVent Stadium/Rob Proud

At the ground, the club bar is named after the year of Harrogate’s first match played in earnest, 1919. Founding members of the Yorkshire League which they won in 1927, the Sulphurites underwent a series of dips and name changes before another 25 post-war years playing the likes of Rawmarsh Welfare and Pickering Town.

A restructure threw Yorkshire and Midlands clubs together into the semi-pro Northern Counties East Leagues in 1982, where Town crossed paths on several occasions with local rivals Harrogate Railway. Promotion five years later led to nearly two decades in the Northern Premier Leagues, then the newly founded Conference North in 2004.

Stalwart centre-half Simon Weaver arrived as player-manager five years later, after a long career across the north. Immediate relegation was averted thanks to a technicality, two other clubs being forcibly demoted from the Conference North that season. 

EnviroVent Stadium/Rob Proud

A more promising campaign in 2010-11 encouraged Weaver senior to take over the club and a brighter future soon beckoned with a club record run in the FA Cup. Only a 4-5 penalty shoot-out defeat to Hastings stood between Town and a possible glamour tie in Round Three – but the celebrations after the victory at Torquay in Round One still live long in the memory.

A highest-ever finish in 2013, one place from the play-offs, was bettered in 2016 when Town at last reached the knock-out stage. Defeat to Fylde was followed by a poor campaign in 2016-17 and the decision to turn pro.

In their first season as full-time players, the Sulphurites ended a 14-year spell in the National League North as returning striker Dominic Knowles bagged braces in each of two play-off games against Chorley and Brackley Town.

EnviroVent Stadium/Rob Proud

A commendable first season in the fifth tier led to another play-off in 2018-19 and another defeat to Fylde. Looking good for automatic promotion in 2019-20, Town were forced to go through the play-off wringer once more after the regular season was curtailed. 

Rising to the occasion, Simon Weaver’s side outplayed Notts County in every department, former England U-21 international Jon Stead coming on for a cameo appearance against his former club.

Key figure for Harrogate’s creditable debut in League Two was journeyman striker Jack Muldoon, whose brace in their opening game at Southend took Town top of the table for that first week. His total of 15 league goals for the season kept Harrogate above the relegation zone.

EnviroVent Stadium/Rob Proud

Sunderland loanee Jack Diamond provided the highlight of the following season, his goal five minutes into stoppage time at Portsmouth putting Harrogate through to the Third Round of the FA Cup for the first time. 

Town’s travelling support then headed down in numbers for the next game at Luton, a 4-0 win for the home side flattered by the scoreline. 

Crowds for league games at Wetherby Road hover below 2,500, half the League Two average and illustrating the work the club may have to do to attract the floating fan.

ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

Now with a grass pitch and expanded to 5,000 capacity, Wetherby Road, aka the EnviroVent Stadium, was rapidly brought up to Football-League standard immediately after Harrogate won the Wembley play-off with Notts County to end a century of non-league football. 

Apart from the playing surface, the other key feature installed pdq as Town moved home games at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium was an all-seated main stand, occupying a third of the touchline either side of the halfway line. Flanking it are a standing terrace and, towards the south end, a corporate lounge and seating – club chairman Irving Weaver is nothing if not ambitious.

Behind the north goal, the Aon Terrace (still referred to as the Hospital End) is for home standing, away fans allocated the Myrings Terrace opposite, where you find the club shop and 1919 stadium bar. 

Visiting supporters are also allocated the adjoining EnviroVent Terrace and Stand alongside Wetherby Road, entering via the south turnstiles between the 1919 Venue and the 150 seats complementing 700 standing places. Home fans enter via the north turnstiles nearest the 7 bus stop.

getting there

Going to the ground – tips and timings

The club encourages visitors to use bus 7 from stand 9 of Harrogate bus station, those showing the driver their match ticket paying £2 (£1 for kids) – but services are every 30mins, every hour on Sundays. It’s six stops/5min from the station to the one marked Football Ground

Three stops further on is Woodlands Corner, by the Woodlands Hotel pre-match pub and, if you’re coming from Leeds, the 7 sets off from/terminates at the bus station there, journey time 1hr 20-30mins. Buses run until around 11pm, seven days a week.

It’s also a pleasant walk, taking Station Avenue which curves into Queen Parade, cutting through The Stray park via a narrow footpath that brings you to Wetherby Road. Allow 15-20mins and use the pedestrian crossings. 

There is little to no parking around the ground (HG2 7SA), hence the reduced bus fares. Kingswood Surgery opposite (14 Wetherby Road, same postcode) and the Cedar Court Hotel, the other side of The Stray on Park Parade, both offer a few spaces at £5 per car. In town, download the free app to see which spaces are available at municipal car parks. The street-level one on Station Parade (HG1 1TT) is open 24hrs and charges £4.80/3hrs.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

Tickets are available a week in advance from the club office in person (contactless preferred, cash accepted, 50p surcharge for a paper version), over the phone (01423 210 600) or online.

After midnight before match day, or at the turnstiles as kick-off approaches, you’ll pay £19 for a seat, £18 to stand, contactless again preferred. Over-65s, students and disabled visitors pay £15/£14. These prices are £2 cheaper for advance purchases. Under-18s pay £6/£5 before or on match day. Under-5s enter free.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

By the 1919 Venue bar at the Myrings Terrace end, the match-day club shop stocks yellow-and-black ‘Proud To Be Town’ scarves, T-shirts and cans of Pilsner lager. Current first kit adds tyre-track stripes to the bright yellow front. The red strata sponsor’s logo advertises Irving Weaver’s own building firm. 

Second choice is a no-fuss blue number, third shirt black with a thin but stand-out thread of yellow around the collar. There’s a week-day outlet in the city’s shopping hub at 32 Commercial Street (Mon-Tue, Thur-Fri 10am-4pm).

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

Two pre-match options stand either side of the stadium, a 5min walk towards or away from town. Both welcome visiting supporters.

Nearer Harrogate, by the roundabout on The Stray, The Empress (‘cask ales, good food, live sports’) is as stately as its name suggests, the kind of place whose Sunday carvery has long been a popular attraction. The pool table, too, while current beers include local Daleside Blonde, Timothy Taylor’s Golden Best and Pravha pilsner by Staropramen.

Past the stadium towards Starbeck on Wetherby Road, the family-friendly Woodlands Hotel by Woodlands Corner is best known for its superior pub grub and warming fire in winter. There’s a terrace, too.

Behind the Myrings Terrace end, the 1919 Venue offers home fans four big-screen TVs and a lively pre-match atmosphere, usually from two hours before kick-off. Around the ground, kiosks serve Appleton’s pies, steak, pork, chicken and veggie varieties, produced by a Ripon-based butcher’s in business since 1867. All come with mushy peas, of course.