“Harrogate’s Simon Weaver: Exclusive Interview on Mastering Longevity in a 14-Year Career”

Discovering the secret to longevity in football management with Simon Weaver

It’s a brutal game, football management. The churn and dog-eat-dog nature of the industry means that statistics are always changing, and by Saturday, it’s likely they will already be outdated. Among the 92 Football League clubs, 54 managers have been appointed for less than a year, and since February, 13 teams have changed bosses. Yet, Simon Weaver, the manager of Harrogate Town since 2009, has defied the odds, making him the country’s longest-serving boss by a significant stretch of five years.

Harrogate, a picturesque Victorian spa town famous for its tea rooms and voted as the ‘happiest place to live’ in the UK, has been a happy settling place for Weaver. “We are one of the smallest clubs around, and I’ve always been honest with myself,” he tells Sportsmail. “I never shirk responsibility. What’s helped is a consistency and belief in the board.”

However, the elephant in the room that dominates the discourse – perhaps wrongly – around Weaver’s 14-year tenure at Wetherby Road is his father, Irving, who has been chairman at the club for the majority of his tenure, and mother, Dorothy, is also involved. Weaver understands it’s a strange dynamic, but he talks about its benefits. “At other clubs, players or agents can go above the manager and moan, but they’re not going to do that here,” he explains. “We’re in every board meeting together, and together we make the decisions for the future of this club.”

Weaver has taken Harrogate from the brink of extinction – with no money or players – to its first-ever stint in the Football League. They have won two promotions, the most recent via a play-off final win at Wembley. They also rebranded, inspired by Borussia Dortmund’s underdog story, to bright yellow-and-black shirts and focused on building infrastructure with new stands and investing in bars at the stadium.

When asked for advice to young bosses, Weaver believes that just being true to yourself is the key. “Of course, I have ambitions. Putting everything to one side – money, longevity or medals – I want to make my family proud… and that includes my mum and dad.” With a complete rescaling of the club from a small-town team to a Football League staple, Weaver’s final goal is to take Harrogate to heights where he can say, “I can’t take it any further.”

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