After a relatively profitable December and January, there were signs that Harrogate Railway Athletic could have enough in the tank to pull themselves away from the relegation zone, but a winless February has left them rooted to the bottom of the Premier Division, albeit within striking distance of 18th placed Goole, writes Ian Robinson.
Railway Manager Craig Ogilvie is under no illusions whatsoever that his side need to start winning games, and quickly.
“We are entering the biggest month of the season for us as a club. The pressure is on me and the lads to pick up points to survive. There’s no beating around the bush anymore. We need wins this month and if we don’t get them, we’ll be looking relegation straight in the face.”
Craig has always been open and honest in his dealings with TBG and has publicly backed his players throughout this difficult season, something he will continue to do despite their precarious position. When asked about supplementing his beleaguered squad, he told us
“A lot of people have spoken to me about who we are looking at bringing in to get us out of trouble. I’m not going out and ‘panic’ signing anyone although most people think I’m mad for not doing so! I’ve spoken to a few players this week as I wanted one more player, but it’s hard to attract when you’re in the relegation zone. The only way you are guaranteed to get players when you’re in this position is by throwing ridiculous money at them to come, and I haven’t been willing to do that. That isn’t a reflection on the lads I’ve spoken to this week as I know all the lads I’ve contacted are all good lads and it’s just not the right time for them to come to the club which I understand and respect. Only one conversation this week did I actually mention money to them! Now maybe I’m missing a trick but we’re going for stability at the club on and off the pitch and it’s not the right thing to do. I couldn’t bring someone in that doesn’t fit the club and team mould and pay them triple figures just to keep us up!
“Now that may show my lack of experience at this level but if anyone thinks I’m paying someone to come to this club and join my squad of players who is clearly only interested in money they’ve got another thing coming! They have to want to buy into what we’re trying to do.
“I’ve got a full squad of guys who have been running themselves into the ground week in week out for 90% of the season, playing for pride and playing for the club and receiving a clap and a handshake for their troubles. I’d take them all day long over a guy who’s only interested in the money.”
As ever, Craig was his usual philosophical self when he appraised his sides chances of beating the drop.
“At the end of the day, if we’re not good enough to stay up then we’re not good enough but I can live with that, if we stick to our principles. That said, I actually think we are good enough and I think the lads believe they are too. I’ve never once doubted my squad and we’ll be fighting for every point, every game and that starts with Athersley at home on Saturday.
“I actually don’t think we have any pressure on us at all to stay up. We’ve been written off since day one, and based on resources we’d have been favourites to finish bottom at the beginning of the season, so the pressure is on everyone else around us to make sure we don’t overtake them. Even more so if we can get a couple of wins in the next few weeks as that will really put some pressure on the others!
“Maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world being sat bottom in our position as there’s only one way we can go and everyone is looking over their shoulders.”