Rugby Union: Harrogate say emotional farewell to Claro Road

End of an era at Claro Road (Richard Bown)
End of an era at Claro Road (Richard Bown)
  • Harrogate lose 29-18 to Hull on final appearance at Claro Road
  • Aspinall hails iconic appearance of ground
  • Uncertainty over “tricky” last six weeks of season
  • Harrogate down to eighth in National Two North

Harrogate RUFC said a final farewell to Claro Road when the final first team match in the ground’s 119-year history was played on Saturday

An emotional Mike Aspinall paid tribute to its iconic “shabby appearance, and crumbling bricks” after his side ended its time at the ground with a defiant 29-18 defeat to National Two North leaders Hull Ionians.

Despite losing the clash, Aspinall said his squad’s improved performance gave a fitting send-off to the site.

However, the director of rugby has also raised uncertainty over his future when the club moves to its new Rudding Lane base next season.

Aspinall said: “I know it’s been a long road for the club. I’m not thinking about Rudding, I am trying to savour the moment here.

“For it’s shabby appearance, and crumbling bricks, it’s been home for a long time.

“It’s my ninth year involved in some capacity at the club and It’s been a great learning ground for me as a player and as a coach.

“Regardless of what the future holds, I will be eternally grateful to Harrogate. It’s been a massive part of my journey and helping me grow.

“I will always have fond memories of this place.”

Saturday’s defeat (report pages 84 and 85) continued Harrogate’s slide down the table and left them bang in mid-table in eighth.

It was Gate’s sixth straight defeat, a run that has arrived on the back of seven straight wins.

Aspinall admitted the off-field distractions of the ground move had left his squad in a “tricky” situation but refused to make excuses for the poor form.

Harrogate’s final home game of the season against Luctonians next month is set to be played at rivals Otley.

And Aspinall has also been unsure of where his squad will train over the next six weeks.

He said: “It will be a tricky last six weeks, with the relocation and all those questions that haven’t been answered.

“But the guys have now got a taste for that sort of performance and we won’t make any excuses if it’s not where it should be.

“The thought that the first team won’t pull on a shirt here again, may take a little time to settle in.”