The Land That Time Forgot

Harrogate Railway Athletic 0 

Prescot Cables 0

Evostik Division One North

There is always a risk when you go to an unscripted live event that events may conspire to provide a spectacle that doesn't live up to your expectations. Having been to Harrogate Railway before, my expectations weren't all that high. And having a mole in the Prescot Cables camp, I knew I was unlikely to see a team of Galacticos stride out in yellow and black.

Pete was desperate for any action at all.
That said, I was completely unprepared for the utter tripe that made up the bulk of my Saturday afternoon. One good reflex save, a goal mouth scramble, and a hit crossbar, coupled with a red card and that was pretty much that. Actually, that synopsis paints a much more enlivening picture than I intended.

Do You Come Here Often?
Wandering around God's Waiting Room, I was struck by a slightly more important point than "my, what a dash both benches cut in their new League-issue attire". And that was: where's the future for clubs like HRA? We all know that non-league football is a hand-to-mouth existence. But really, looking around the rabble that had collected at Station View, I really couldn't see how they were going to pull together an under 70's team in the next few years. They are not alone in this. That non-league football is the reserve of doddery old men with fat noses and ear hair is a clich√© that is nonetheless true. But some clubs do at least boast a vocal minority of teenage lads, for whom the novelty usually wears off. And a few middle-aged dads with banning orders from local proper clubs (this may be doing them a disservice, I appreciate!) But there was none of that at HRA yesterday.

No, me neither
I'm not sure what the future is for Railway, and clubs like them. The committees need to wake up and become proactive, I think. Not just short term, quick fix measures like "kids for a quid" or youth team admissions. The problem is bigger, across the board. And whilst kids are always the long term potential fan-base, today's population is more mobile than ever. Getting them when they're young is all well and good, but they invariably move away. The focus surely has to be on enticing those who move in to the area? Somewhere like Harrogate is a major draw for out-of-towners. So what are Athletic, and their neighbours Harrogate Town, doing to sell the club to Southampton fans and Everton fans who move to the area? Forget marketing to the kids, get the dads, and mums, down. They'll be spending the money. They'll be telling their friends. And they, ultimately, will take the reigns of the current management committee.

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