Harlow Town Football Club: Where do they go from here?

Sport / Tue 23rd Apr 2019 am30 11:13am

By Michael Casey

I rarely write opinion pieces, as I am too busy publishing over 7,000 stories a year across two on-line newspapers. I also do not consider myself a football expert in any way but I felt the need to write a few words on football and in particular, football in Harlow

I have covered a number of football teams in my time and witnessed the frustrations in running a club and supporting a club.

I do not consider myself an expert in Harlow Town FC. I rely on excellent cub reporters to file match reports and I keep an eye out on feelings expressed on forums.

So this is not a thoroughly researched piece but more of an observation written on a Monday lunchtime. But I have a platform (708,000 page views since Jan 1st) and is there is a responsibility to use it for the greater good.

I have also never run a football club but can imagine it can be frustrating. Infact, one of the main things I recall re Alan Sugar’s autobiography was his exasperation that he had saved Spurs from extinction and he ended up, he believed to be the bad guy.

So having said all that, we now see that Harlow Town have been relegated back down to the Bostik Division North (or its equivalent).

They flourished for one season in the Bostik Premier and struggled for two years.

Now that they are in the Bostik Div North, the question is, where do they go from here? The perception is that the club is only prepared to invest in wages as per what goes through the turnstile. Whether you agree or disagree, a question may be, when do you review that policy? Could it be that you drop again to the Essex Senior League and then drop again and again until you find that your big game is against Bishops Stortford Swifts Reserves in Essex Olympian League Division Five. That is perhaps an extreme example but who knows?

The powers that be may well say that we have tried and tried and tried to get the people of Harlow to support their local team and it just isn’t happening. Yes, people will point to other new towns such as Crawley, Stevenage, Livingston etc. They have co-ordinated with the schools, they have worked with community organisations and it just isn’t happening.

But it is pretty busy up at Barrows Farm, Harlow Arena etc. There is the first team, there is a reserve team, a ladies team, there are Hawks from under-9 to under 19, there is a function suite, there are events (Harlow Fest), there are TV programmes based there (Harry’s Heroes), there are business meetings and there are other revenue streams.

All that you see above is probably what is needed to run a business but in my experience, I have seen this before but when I have seen similar operations, I am still pretty sure that the football team, the first eleven is at the very centre of the organisation. That what goes on between 3pm and 4.45pm is the very beating heart of what you do.

I am not convinced that is the case with all that goes on up at The Pinnacles. That is the worry and that is the qualitative difference between Harlow Town and perhaps every other football team in the land.

Is this what Harlow and District Sports Trust envisaged for Harlow Town FC? Will probably ask. For the record, over the next few months, I am going to invite a number of people to answer a few questions.

But in the end, the bottom line may well be that it just doesn’t seem to be a particularly happy place to be. I don’t just mean the fans or the coaching staff and I would also want to stress that everyone I have ever spoken to at the Harlow Arena has been courteous and well mannered but someone needs to get a smile back on the face of football at Harlow Town.

We seem to have come to a point that the team are as relevant as to what goes on at the Harlow Arena as Jim and his six mates who every Thursday hire out a pitch for an hour at Passmores Academy. They are a useful income stream in order to help a bigger organisation survive/flourish. No more no less. Something has gone terribly wrong when that appears to be the case at Harlow Town FC.

It would not surprise me in the least the the business that operates out of Harlow Arena continues to be busy but as I say, from every ground I have visited and/or reported on since 1972, from Aberdeen to Torquay United, I have been pretty sure that the football team has the beating heart of that place. Not sure about you, you know.

Of course, the powers that be may suggest to the disaffected, that if they don’t like that they seem then go and try it yourself. As they did in 1879. Over to you folks.

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1 Comment for Harlow Town Football Club: Where do they go from here?:

2019-04-23 11:59:44

As I see it, there is a huge problem with getting local support here. It doesn’t help that many in the town identify as Tottenham fans and there’s a Tottenham store in the town. Now I know it’s not an attractive option to support Harlow, but, if things want to change, then the grip of premier league needs to stop. Question is how to do that? Harlow do very well at kids clubs etc, but are they engaging at all in schools and getting kids to want o come here if they can’t get to spurs (which most can’t). Work hard to make Harlow the second club. Make it an attractive option, get into schools, offer free games for people in the community and give something for people to get behind. Also get spurs to limit the number of school visits and soccer schools they run in the area. This isn’t Tottenham and they are just reaching as far as possible to get more support. I’m from a towns team in non league surrounded by 1 premier league club and 2 big league clubs... they still get over 3,000 by engaging with the community

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