Background

Our History



Club Formation and Early Years

The club was due to be formed for the 1914/15 season however, due to the Great War all games were postponed before fixtures could take place. Harrogate should have been playing at Bishop Auckland on Saturday 5 September, but sent a telegram two hours before kick-off stating they would not be arriving as most of the team had joined the Regiments.
 
After the war Harrogate AFC was formed for the 1919/20 season to play in the West Riding League. The first competitive game was a 1-0 win at the Starbeck Lane Ground on Saturday 30 August 1919 against Horsforth. In that season Harrogate won the Whitworth Cup 4-0 against Ripon City, the first ever trophy won by the new Harrogate AFC.

The 1920/21 season saw Harrogate join the newly formed Yorkshire League, but also continue with a team in the West Riding League, while a move to the then named ‘Wetherby Lane’ was completed. The first Yorkshire League game at the new ground took place on Saturday 28 August 1920 with a 2-1 win against York YMCA, before a friendly with Sheffield United saw 15,000 supporters in attendance.
 
Harrogate’s first major trophy arrived in the form of the West Riding County Challenge Cup as Fryston Colliery were beaten 3-1 at Elland Road on 9th May 1925; a trophy that would be won again two seasons later. The club then disbanded following the 1931/32 season until 1935, when a team formed under the name Harrogate Hotspurs. The team played in the Harrogate League and West Riding County Amateur League until outbreak of war when the team returned to action in the West Yorkshire League.
 
After adopting the name Harrogate Town in 1948, the club joined the Yorkshire League nine years later, and finished Runners-Up, as well as County Cup Winners, in the 1962/63 season. Under Peter Gunby, Town had a successful side in the early 1970s, winning the County Cup again in 1973.


 

1980-2000

Under Alan Smith, Town were the last winners of the Yorkshire League Division Two in the 1981/82 season, as the Northern Counties East League was then formed with the Yorkshire and Midland leagues joining forces. Under head groundsman George Dunnington, floodlights were installed in 1982 when Leeds United sent their entire first team to mark the occasion, and Eddie Gray switched on the lights. The first competitive match played under the lights was an FA Cup replay against Accrington Stanley which attracted a crowd of over 2,000.
 
November 1990 saw the official opening of the new impressive cantilevered grandstand and York City sent their first team before a prolonged period on the UniBond League Division One. In June 1998 Town appointed Maurice Hammond as Chairman, though was replaced in February 2000 by former Chairman of Leeds United Bill Fotherby.


 

Early 2000's and FA Cup Exploits

The 2001/02 season saw the club become Champions of UniBond League Division One by ten clear points under Manager John Reed and Coach Neil Aspin, after playing 15 seasons in the league since its inception. Reed and Aspin also guided Town to a first West Riding County Cup since 1986 with a 4-0 win over Farsley Celtic. 2002/03 saw the club finish 6th in their first ever season of UniBond League Premier Division, while The FA Cup First Round proper was reached for the first time in the club’s history and the West Riding County Cup was won again, against Farsley Celtic. A 5th place finish in 2003/04 secured the club a place in the newly formed Conference North Football League.
 
The inaugural 2004/05 Nationwide North season saw the club achieve more success, despite the shock mid-season departure of John Reed. Neil Aspin returned to Wetherby Road as the new Manager having left the club at the end of the previous season, and an excellent 6th place finish was achieved. The 2005/06 season saw more success for Town; The FA Cup First Round proper was again reached, and Town were unfortunate to go out of the competition following a penalty shoot-out against Torquay United at Wetherby Road. A place in the Conference North promotion play-offs was secured on the final day of the season with a 1-0 win at Stafford Rangers, but just 3 days later the score was reversed against the same opposition in the semi-final.


 

The Weaver Era

Neil Aspin left the club at the end of the 2008/09 season, and soon after Simon Weaver was appointed the club’s new manager. Having to operate on a severely restricted budget hampered the clubs progress during the 2009/2010 season and at the end the club finished in the unwanted bottom position of the league. However, with several clubs going bankrupt, Harrogate Town were handed a reprieve. The following season saw Town struggle around the mid to lower regions of the league and it took a ten match unbeaten run to pull the club to safety and their final position of 12th. Despite a good start to the 2011-2012 season, Town once again hit a rocky patch and it took a 5-0 win over Corby Town on the final day of the season to guarantee safety and another crack at conquering the league.
 
The 2012/2013 season turned out to be one of mixed fortunes; an amazing FA Cup run saw Football League side Torquay United defeated in the first round proper and only a penalty shoot-out following a replay prevented us from reaching the third round where Middlesbrough lied in wait.


 

Recent History

The 2015/16 season saw the club achieve their highest ever league finish as fourth place and a spot in the playoffs was secured in the National League North. The playoff semi-final pitted Town against AFC Fylde who secured a slender first leg lead with a 1-0 win at Wetherby Road that set the foundations to eliminate Harrogate after a 1-1 draw in the second leg at Kellamergh Park. The summer of 2016 saw the club lay a state of the art 3G pitch at the now named CNG Stadium allowing the club to avoid any weather disruptions and hire the venue out when not in use by the club. Towards the end of the 16/17 season, in which the club finished 11th, it was announced that Harrogate Town would be operating as a full time professional club from the start of the 2017/18 season.