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All about the Harrogate Minstermen
All about the Harrogate Minstermen

Vibrant City fans group keep working in support of their Club

By Stephen Gartside

On a cold, dark evening in February 2002, three passionate York City fans convened at a local hostelry, each inflamed with a vehement desire to play their part in saving a football club whose very existence was balanced on a proverbial knife-edge.

Following two hours of intensive discussion and planning the decision was taken ... and the Harrogate Minstermen were officially formed.

Founder members Paul Outhwaite, Nigel Outhwaite and Stephen Gartside immediately set to work, their aim to produce a supporters' club for the local area, one which was run on behalf of both its members and the football club, a body which
offered reliable and affordable travel to members for each of the club's away fixtures.

Within three weeks the newly formed branch held its first meeting, which witnessed an amazing 23 members in attendance. Twelve days later marked the HM's first ever game as an official supporters' club when they travelled to Macclesfield.

By May the membership had totalled an incredible 50. The club awarded its Player of the Season Trophy to Alan Fettis, while also launching its own website.

The start of a new season offered renewed hope, which the HM, in unison with Minstermen.net, celebrated with a 'Minstermen United Day', where visiting fans at Macclesfield were supplied with in excess of 500 red and white balloons. Meanwhile the branch announced its home kit sponsorship of Tom Cowan.

September marked the arrival of a special guest, Chris Brass, who became the first in a series of high profile figures lending their support at the branch's monthly meetings.

Two months later the HM ran its inaugural 'Ladies Day' travel to the game at Rochdale, while members also campaigned on the streets clad in dramatic Grim Reaper costumes, in protest at the impending loss of the club's Bootham Crescent home. Their efforts had the desired effect, with more than 700 signatures being obtained in support of blocking planning permission on the stadium site, while HM members were also featured and interviewed on BBC TV's 'Look North' programme.

A host of guests attended the HM Christmas party in December, including team manager Terry Dolan, his assistant Adie Shaw and club captain Chris Brass (named as the HM's new Honorary President). The branch were featured on Radio Five Live, while it also teamed up with the Friends of Bootham Crescent for numerous match day bucket collections as fans desperately attempted to raise vital funds in a bid to save the club.

More guests offered support at their monthly gatherings, including Graeme Crawford, Chris Jones, Darren Edmondson, Harry Gration, Steve Beck, Sophie McGill and Kirsten Gillies, while members also represented the club on Yorkshire TV's 'The Big Story'.

January witnessed a 'Race Night' raise more than 300 for a local children's charity, while March saw the debut of Harrogate Minstermen FC. The club also welcomed former hero Paul Barnes to their latest meeting. That same month the 'Harrogate Minsterettes' performed in tandem with the York Angels prior to the Bournemouth game, resulting in several hundred pounds being raised on behalf of the Supporters' Trust.

The HM sponsored their first ever City game in April (v Kidderminster), while club skipper Chris Brass was named as Player of the Season at the monthly meeting, attended once more by both Terry Dolan and Adie Shaw.

Subsequent months have seen the group continue to prosper, with a membership currently standing at over 70 and still rising. The star guests have continued to flow, with the likes of Alan Little, Derek Hood, Lee Nogan and Dave Merris (home kit sponsored by HM) each happily accepting invitations.

The branch have also acquired their own minibus, which now additionally offers travel to all home fixtures, while it is also currently involved in raising crucial funds on behalf of its adopted charity, the local Harrogate District Hospital.

The HM have already achieved so much during its relatively short life, but this is only the beginning. Its members remain committed to supporting the Supporters' Trust and playing their role in helping to secure the status of York City Football Club.

 
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