Railway duel provides fitting finale for Harrogate Town’s pre-season

Harrogate Town's Dave McGurk wins a header against Harrogate Railway last year (Photo: Caught Light Photography)
Harrogate Town's Dave McGurk wins a header against Harrogate Railway last year (Photo: Caught Light Photography)

The long-running rivalry will come under friendly stipulation when the annual Harrogate derby for the John Smith’s Trophy takes place at the CNG Stadium on Saturday.

Cup holders Harrogate Town will be gunning to continue their three match unbeaten run in pre-season to give them the perfect boost before beginning their National North season a week later.

Simon Weaver’s men required a penalty shoot-out to win the trophy at Station View last year, after the two sides shared a 2-2 draw.

The Town gaffer is likely to offer a clue over the team he intends to start the National North season with, as the clash culminates what has been summer of building on and off the field.

The majority of the players will be experiencing the rivalry between the two sides for a first time.

Railway have been in a period of transition under new boss Lee Ashforth following Billy Miller’s exit to Tadcaster Albion.

The Station View club registered former Guiseley player Jack Stockdill and fellow new recruits Alex Low, Cameron Lyn, Roy Fogarty, Ryan Sharrocks and Alex Jones this week.

With an extra week to prepare for their Evo-Stik First Division North campaign, the boss admits John Smith’s Trophy will have to act as second fiddle to readying his side for the new season.

“It’s just another pre-season game for us,” Ashforth said.

“I am not going into the game too bothered about the result. Simon will be going with quite a strong side and it will be another really hard test. We just have to make sure we are at the races.

“Obviously, for the local people, it means a little bit more than the other friendlies but we have to be realistic about it.

“They are two divisions higher and probably have better players across the board.

“I’m sure for players like Dan Thirkell and Si Parkes, the local lads, will be looking forward to it and hoping to get the bragging rights.

“But does that mean it means more to them? Probably not because all the players are fighting for their places at the start of the season.”