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Harrogate Town promotion a 'superb lift' after lockdown

image copyrightPA Media
image captionHarrogate Town beat Notts County 3-1 at Wembley to secure promotion
Football fans in Harrogate are celebrating their "small town of teashops" securing a place in the Football League for the first time.
Supporters followed on the radio and TV as Harrogate Town won the National League play-off final at Wembley.
The result has been described as a "superb lift" for the spa town.
Work to rip up the club's artificial pitch and replace it with grass, in keeping with league regulations, is expected to start later on Monday.
Fan Brody Pattison joked that he wanted some of the artificial pitch in his back garden as a souvenir.
He said: "I can't thank the players enough, they're all heroes for this town, they're going to go down in history.
"We've come so far as a club in the last three or four years, we're a small town full of teashops and we're in the Football League."
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Another Sulphurites supporter, Jack Wilkinson, said he woke up on Monday with a bottle of champagne and a huge sign saying "we're going to Wembley".
image captionManager Simon Weaver has led the club - which only turned professional a few years ago - to a second promotion in three seasons
He said: "As soon as they scored the first goal, that's when the tears started and they didn't stop until full-time, I'm a grown adult crying over a football match.
"It makes the early mornings going to Dover, Yeovil, Torquay all worth it."
The Sulphurites also won the praise of what is possibly Harrogate's most famous institution, Bettys tearoom.
A spokeswoman said: "We've the kettle on and Fat Rascals (a kind of scone) in the oven. We're delighted to raise a toast to Simon Weaver and the winning Harrogate team."
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image captionThe match took place behind closed doors because of coronavirus restrictions
Harrogate businessman Mark Noble was lucky enough to attend the game as a guest of the club.
He said: "The lads were all so proud, the support they've had all season was with them yesterday, the flags were up.
"Yesterday was a large key opening a large door, next season we're in that room and hopefully when Covid is over, all the supporters will all be there following the team."
Simon Cotton, who runs hotels and pubs in and around the town, said promotion was a "superb lift" for Harrogate after "so many months of lockdown blues".
He said: "Harrogate relies on visitor tourism and if more fans are travelling to see their teams then they're potentially going to stay in hotels in the town, go for a drink in the bars, have something to eat in the restaurants and buy something in the shops."
image copyrightPA Media
image captionAfter coronavirus halted football, it was unclear if the promotion play-offs would go ahead
There have been calls for an open-top bus parade, although coronavirus restrictions mean this is unlikely.
Harrogate Borough mayor Stuart Martin said: "We've got to try and think of how best we can celebrate - under normal circumstances, wouldn't it have been nice to have a civic reception for them? - but there's no way we can do that under the current climate, it's just not feasible."
He said promotion was "going to bring a real buzz to the town, to the district, to the county" and would encourage more youngsters to get involved in sport.
Lindsey Whitton, captain of Harrogate Town's women's team, said she hoped the club's recent success would inspire more girls to start playing football.
She said: "It's amazing, the profile of the club has just risen so much within 24 hours, not only for the men's team but it's going to have a massive impact on the women's team, the player development centre, the academy."
image copyrightPA Media
image captionHarrogate's players are to get two weeks off before returning for pre-season
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  • Simon Weaver: Harrogate Town promotion to EFL 'a dream come true'