The notion that life begins at forty is likely to be a little lost on Simon Weaver. The Harrogate Town manager celebrated that special birthday milestone yesterday, although you suspect that the present he truly craves will only arrive when the Wetherby Road men achieve their Holy Grail of promotion to the National League. Hopefully, as early as May.

But in managerial terms, life commenced way before the age of forty for Weaver, so much so that he is now in his ninth season in charge at Harrogate, having been appointed, initially, as player-manager, at the tender age of 31 in May 2009. Weaver has endured a roller-coaster ride since. Yet his belief that the best times lie ahead for Harrogate, now a full-time outfit with a smart ground and training facilities, including a 3G community pitch and an increasingly professional infrastructure, is one which is shared by everyone associated with the National League North high-fliers.

Weaver, whose side lie third, said: “You feel more weathered and used to certain situations. I am steadier now and realise players will have a dip in form. But I realise that if you are consistent with your methods, the players know where they are at. When I look at the photos now, I am thinning on top and there’s some grey hairs in my beard!

“I understand why, that is management – you live and breathe it and I am totally absorbed in it. The desire is greater than ever. “If I had got the job at fifty and had eight-and-half years, it could have taken its toll. But for me, I look at people just getting into management at 41 or 42 and I am really grateful I have had those ups and downs. I do things differently now, but would not say that I have ‘made it’. We are still in Conference North and I wanted to be higher.”

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