New Harrogate Railway manager Des Macorison is desperate to reward the club’s volunteers with success on-the-field at Station View this season.
Railway, a club that enjoyed the riches of two runs to the FA Cup second round proper inside the past two decades, find themselves in Toolstation NCEL Division One for the first time since 1999 after suffering two relegations in four seasons.
The slide began when Billy Miller, one of Railway’s greatest managers, led them to their highest ever league finish in 2015, but then left for Tadcaster Albion and a number of key players left as well.
The club have never properly recovered. Lee Ashforth, Paul Beesley, Liam Gray, Marlon Adams, Brian Davey and Craig Ogilvie have all tried to revive Railway’s fortunes, without success.
In the background, the club has also struggled to maintain regular income from events and the bar. But Macorison says the club is in safe hands behind the scenes and it is time for success on-the-field.
“We are trying to get the club back together from the Juniors upwards,” Macorison told Non League Yorkshire.
“We’ve been watching the reserves and Sam Newsome has come up from the under 18s. Liam White has been training with the first team so we are trying to make it more of a club rather than a branch of a team here and another branch of a team there.
“We’re trying to get the togetherness back. Since 2015 there has been a slow decline. Off-the-pitch it has been difficult, such as with the finances, but the club have worked hard and things are now stabilised.
“As soon as we talked to (chairman) Mick Edwards and the committee, we realised we had the same ideas for the club as a whole.
“Alongside me is head coach Danny Scott and Lee Ryan, both long-term friends and I believe us three have the right attributes to hopefully push the club forward.
“Harrogate Railway are a massive club. Even around my area like Batley, Mirfield, everybody knows the club. They have declined and they should be further up (the pyramid).
“It is sad to see where the club is. Off-the-pitch though, Mick, Shep (secretary Dave Shepherd), Doc, Dennis (Wise), Chris, Alan, they have stayed together and found a way to stabilise the club.
“It is now about us rewarding them by getting results on-the-pitch.”
Macorison was the manager of Littletown in the now-defunct West Riding County Amateur League. For some, he was a left-field choice for the job, but he is not new to the Non League circuit. He has played local football for years and had spells with Wakefield FC during the Paul Lines era, and at Liversedge under Eric Gilchrist and Alan Colquhoun.
Littletown finished second in the WRCAL and lost two cup finals and Macorison had planned to take a sabbatical from the game until he was given the reins at Station View.
The job he faced was a rebuilding one. Nearly all of last season’s squad has gone and a lot of Step 7 players have joined – most notably Railway’s new captain Joe Jagger.
Jagger was Littletown’s talisman under Macorison – scoring 42 times last season and the Railway boss says his skipper and others are ready for the NCEL.
“It is more than the right moment for him to step up to the NCEL and if I hadn’t have taken the Railway job, I would have encouraged him to do so,” Macorison said.
“He gets approaches all the time. He was with me at Littletown, so was Paddy Sykes.
“We also have Toby Harris who scored 37 goals in the West Yorkshire League while playing upfront on his own for Ilkley town Town. He’s injured at the moment.
“The three of them got over 120 goals between them last season.
“We have some major threats going forward and you could say that these players should have stepped up to the NCEL years ago.
“Jagger has played for Liversedge and Brighouse, but didn’t enjoy it and he preferred playing with his mates. He was my captain at Littletown and as soon as I got this job, he wanted to come straightaway.”
Railway have played three times in pre-season. They lost 4-0 at Eccleshill United, 2-1 to Harrogate Town under 21s before the 4-4 stalemate with Garforth Town.
Railway twice fought back from a two-goal deficit to draw with the Premier Division outfit.
Macorison was pleased with the draw and is happy with the progress being made ahead of the opening game of the season at home to Campion on August 3rd.
“Garforth were trying to play out of the back so we packed the midfield and rather than play the high press we went for a midfield block,” he said.
“When we brought Patrick Thomas, a trialist on, and the physicality made the difference. We tried to get the ball forward quicker and work off second balls.
“Overall it is coming together. The lads are taking stuff on board slowly but surely.
“For me, the lads are naive in a couple of spots such as transitions, but it is all to work on. Its only our third game together as a new squad.
“We’ll be playing out from the back when we start the new season. That’s how you play, for me. You pass the ball to move the opposition.
“When you have the ball, the opposition can’t score. In Non League football there is a lot of diagonal balls and a lot of rush football. We’re going to try and take the pace of the game and play at our speed.”