Parkes hopes Knaresborough will be top ten hit next season

Toolstation NCEL Premier Division 

Simon Parkes (left) is the new manager of Knaresborough Town. Picture: Caught Light Photography

Simon Parkes believes Knaresborough Town are capable of finishing in the top half next season.

Parkes and assistant Colin Heath were recently appointed as the permanent successors to Rob Hunter and they are confident they have a solid platform.

The highest Knaresborough have ever finished in the NCEL’s top flight is ninth and Parkes is aiming to better the 2019 finish.

“It is safe to say last season was a transition year,” Parkes told Non League Yorkshire.

“With Paul Stansfield and Paul Clayton leaving (last year), a lot of players did disperse and I think it was key that we did keep the core lads in-and-around us.

“The main focus is keeping those lads and developing the youth like Rob tried to do.

“We’ll utilise the resources around like the i2i lads when we can and also the network of clubs around us.

“That could mean sometimes bringing in lads on a dual-registration basis or bringing players into strengthen the team we have at the moment.

“That said, if you look at our last four results from the campaign that has just finished, I think we have a squad already that can more than compete.

“We do need to bring in a few additions to ensure we do compete more next season and we’re away from the relegation battle.

“Mine and Colin’s ambition is for the club to finish in its highest ever position next year and there’s no reason why we can’t do that.” 

Such a finish would be a huge improvement on the past 12 months which have seen Knaresborough flirt with relegation.

Parkes was Hunter’s assistant and the pair were severely hampered by an incredible number of injuries throughout the season.

However, there were many reasons to be positive as the club blooded a huge list of youngsters in both first and second teams and Parkes agrees that the club philosophy has been successful so far.

“You have to look at the team we built last season and that’s not just the first team, it is the management team and the reserve team,” he said.

“You have to look at how successful Baz Littlefair and the reserve management team have been.

“Because of the catchment area in the Harrogate and District area, we don’t have the ability to attract those travelling a little bit further because of the resource constraints.

“I think the main focus for us as a club is ensuring we kept hold of the core of the first team, the experienced players, whilst also bringing in and developing young lads and attracting local young lads.

“We believe we have done and we believe we have the best 16-20-year-olds in the Harrogate and District area.

“That’s what we are going to try and continue.

“We have to bear in mind that it has to be a slow progression because the results of the first team are the priority.”

As someone who is confident relegation struggles are behind Knaresborough, Parkes are also dismisses the notion that his side are a slide similar to the one resurgent neighbours Harrogate Railway suffered several years ago when local players saw Manse Lane as more attractive than Station View.

“I was part of the Railway side when we were in the NPL and did begin to start the slide,” he said.

“That’s when the Billy Miller era ended when he moved to Taddy and took some players with him.

“I think it is a different scenario with Knaresborough.

“We have managed to keep the core players we wanted to keep hold of, but we have also managed to bring players in.

“You look at the players we have brought in; we have brought in Danny Edwards, Jake Rose, Cole Wilding.

“They are three cracking additions to the squad.

“We are in a higher step than Railway.

“I played with Railway for over 15 years so it was great to see the run they went on and I was hoping they would win promotion.

“I still think Knaresborough are on the front-foot.

“You look at the young lads we have got, the young lads in the reserve team and I still think we are an attraction in the local area.”

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