Ahead of tomorrow's match against Colchester, we sat down with goalkeeper James Belshaw to discuss his return to the club. Here is part 1 of our sitdown.
When the news broke that goalkeeper James Belshaw would be returning to Harrogate Town on a permanent basis there was a sense of mutual warmth between the stopper and the Town faithful.
However, while the decision to rekindle a partnership which had saw two promotions made sense on the pitch. Away from the pitch, the move meant just as much for the 33-year-old.
The former Tamworth man said: “This move was one which I felt I had to do not just for my career but also for my family too. My wife and I have an eight-month-old daughter together but I had been living away from home three nights a week in Bristol or with Forest Green.
“However, moving here meant I could move back home and be with them. I am now able to be a full-time dad which is one of the most important things for me. To be able to do that while representing a club like this is an absolute no-brainer.
“People don’t see everything which goes on in a transfer, the last three or four weeks have had a lot going on but as a family we are absolutely buzzing to be back here.”
As the dust settles on the sensational return, attention now turns to the 18-month term which Belshaw has signed up for.
When asked about the future, the goalkeeper admits he has a debt to settle.
“The last few weeks have been great and I am absolutely delighted to be back playing in front of the fans here. The club has come so far in the time where I have been away, it is really fantastic to see.
“The permanent deal was something which I wanted to happen, looking at the way the club went above and beyond it was clear that they wanted it to happen. I am forever grateful for that but now it’s down to me to repay that faith they have shown in me.”
Aside from becoming a husband and father in his time away, a lot has changed for our number 31 who believes he has learned a lot thanks to his spell with Bristol Rovers.
“That Summer after leaving here was a tough one, I spoke to a few clubs during the summer but nothing was really happening with that. There was a couple who said they were interested but nothing came of it.
“It got to the start of pre-season and I actually came back here to do a couple of sessions. However, that first week I got the call from Bristol Rovers who invited me to come down for a two week trial.
“I trained every day and managed to get involved in a couple of pre-season friendlies and thankfully after that they decided to sign me. However, at first my remit was to go in as second choice which for me wasn’t ideal.
“I wanted to play games but it was the only offer I had so I knew I had to make it work. I ended up being on the bench for the first two games but after that the first-choice at the time picked up an injury and I was given the opportunity to play.”
However, after being relegated from League One the season before, Belshaw admits it was a difficult start as the club struggled to adapt to the fourth tier.
“The season before the club had just been relegated, there had been a big turnover in players and coming in you could feel that relegation hangover. The fans were unhappy at the previous season and we started the new season slowly on the back of that.
“It was a difficult learning curve for me. However, I was playing week-in-week-out and was happy to have this opportunity and thankfully as we got into the new year our form really started to improve.
“We knew the quality we had in the group. We knew there was the components in there to put a run together and after January I think we only lost three games.
“We knew if we could get a run together then at least making a go of it in the playoffs was achievable. We got into the playoffs about March time but after that in-house we were always looking at the top three positions.
“I had managed to get a couple of clean sheets under my belt and I was enjoying my football. It was a new experience for me. Looking back at that season, I ended up being named POTY and we got promoted to League One so it turned out to be a great season.”