Harpenden Town looking to capitalise on football's return on and off the pitch

Harpenden V Hitchin - Mickey Nathan - Manager Harpenden Town.Picture: Karyn Haddon

Steve O'Reilly and manager Mickey Nathan get their point across to their Harpenden Town team during pre-season. - Credit: KARYN HADDON

While most clubs have their eyes on one target in a season, Harpenden Town have their eyes on advancement on three fronts.

Off the field, Rothamsted Park is going through a number of changes and they are hoping that the return of football and a more public face in the town, attracts more support to the picturesque ground.

Underpinning them all though is a stellar year on the pitch and coach Steve O'Reilly, a former skipper at the Harps, believes they can be successful in all their pursuits.

He said: "We’ve got a squad that is good enough to go and compete at the top of this league. 

"There is a lot that goes in to that and there will be a lot of other teams thinking the same but ever since I’ve come back to the club, it’s been about moving on from that little Harpenden Town mentality that we had at times, that underdog mentality. 

"We want the expectation and we want people to be excited about the club and about what we can do. 

"We’ll embrace that but from our perspective we know it doesn’t mean anything unless you put the hard work in and go and get results on the pitch."

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That is the first link with building their support and attendances and the two have to go hand in hand according to O'Reilly.

He said: "The good performances that we have been putting together for the last few years has got people excited and now we’re getting the facilities and with the ideas or pushing the club forward, it is all stitching together. 

"It is a lot of hard work though and as soon as you drop off from that and that willingness to work hard, it can all unravel a little bit. 

"As a club this is the most connected I’ve ever seen it and we’re really feeling part of the community. 

"There’s a lot of people in Harpenden who didn’t know the club before but know it a lot better now and we need to maximise that. 

"But we have to put a product out on the pitch and hopefully we’ll see even more people coming along." 

To do that they have opted to stick with the vast majority of last year's squad that were sitting eighth in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, scoring 28 times in 11 entertaining outings.

That was a deliberate plan.

O'Reilly said: "We spoke [about retaining more of last year’s squad] and for us, that means more than going out and making some flashy signing that would grab the headlines. 

"We’ve had 18 months of working one way as a management team, and yes it has been a bit disrupted but it is about getting a group who understands how we play, understands the application we expect and that will stand us in better stead than going out and making loads of new signings."