Hartley returns to Harpenden after successful stint in Sweden
- Credit: Archant
Harpenden Town impact player Jimmy Hartley has come back from a successful stint playing league football in Sweden to train with his old team this week.
He and the rest of the squad had their first training session on Thursday in Rothamsted Park and also had their first look around the rebuilt clubhouse.
Hartley, who scored five goals from just six appearances for Town, said:” This club is going places and has a great atmosphere. I am from Flamstead so Harpenden is my home side.
“I am really excited about what they are trying to do, Harpenden really want to push for promotion.
“The new clubhouse is also a very exciting and will be a great facility for the players.”
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Hartley was picked up by the Swedish third division side Ytterhogdal and helped them to third place in the league by their mid-season break.
The move for the former Luton and Stevenage academy player came through a FA backed scheme to keep young players in the game by playing abroad. He also saw his side reach the semi-final stage of preliminary rounds of the Swedish equivalent of the FA Cup before being knocked out by a first division team.
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The 19-year-old played a more creative role in Sweden on the left hand side of midfield rather than up front for Harpenden.
“I was taking a lot of set pieces and a highlight was when we were 1-0 down in one match and I took a corner in the 88th minute which we scored and then two minutes later we went ahead with the last kick of the match to win and go second in the league,” he said.
“The players really made me feel at home and could all speak English but I have to admit the first month was stressful going shopping and not being able to speak Swedish, I was taking lessons but it is a very hard language to learn.
“Now I am back home I want to keep playing my football here and while I have not committed to a side just yet I love the atmosphere at Harpenden; they made me very welcome last season.”
Town finished sixth in the Spartan South Midlands Division One last season and want to push for promotion to the Premier Division.
After looking round the new clubhouse, which is still a building site, captain Jack Cartwright could see the potential of the £100,000 facility.
He said: “The work has given a positive lift not just to the players but also the chairman and the volunteers. When you see a new clubhouse and modern facilities it attracts new players and hopefully spectators and it was good to see the young ones coming through at training today.
“Now we want to see progress on the pitch and achieve promotion.”