"Noisy salt and sulphur at creation
Made the world’s taste perfect;
But here in my garden it is still."
Having started our League 2 season with a win (and a clean sheet) against Grimsby Town we have what looks like a much sterner test as we travel to face League newcomers Harrogate Town, who announced their presence with a thumping 0-4 win at Southend United in their opening fixture.
The Sulphurites (as they are known by some) have progressed from relative obscurity in recent years. Having been founder members of The Northern Counties East League in 1982, and founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1987, they did it again by being founder members of Conference North in 2004. A slice of luck kept them there in 2009-10 when they faced relegation, but the financial problems surrounding Northwich Victoria saw the Vics relegated instead. Further progress led to the play-offs earlier this year, and Harrogate saw off Notts County at Wembley by 3-1 to gain League 2 entry.
A couple of unusual items about The Sulphurites … firstly there is an important father & son influence in the managerial set-up, with Irving Weaver as Chairman and his son Simon Weaver as Manager. The influence of the Weaver family has reportedly been very significant in Harrogate’s recent progress. Secondly, we probably won’t be playing at Harrogate’s ground anyway - their synthetic pitch does not meet League standards, so until it is replaced their home games will be at Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium.
There is another chance to assess Harrogate’s abilities this midweek - they will be playing The Baggies on Wednesday (kick off 6pm) in the 2nd round of the League Cup.
The Sulphurites have had quite a busy pre-season…
21st August Middlesbrough U-23’s 0 Harrogate Town 2
25th August Brighouse 0 Harrogate Town 0
29th August Sunderland 1 Harrogate Town 0
5th September Tranmere Rovers 1 Harrogate Town 1 (Carabao Cup) Town win on penalties
8th September Grimsby Town 2 Harrogate Town 2 (EFL Trophy)
Prediction? Town are quite rightly riding on the crest of a wave at the moment, and it will need all the defensive strength at Darrell Clarke’s disposal to even think of a clean sheet. The reported injury to Callum Cockerill-Mollett should make little difference as long as Zak Jules can fulfil his pre-season promise (assuming that he gets picked, of course). I will be more than happy with a 0-0 scoreline from this game, bearing in mind that if you win at home and draw away you’ll very likely finish the season as champions…