ALS Thirlwell Chat

Former midfielder Paul Thirlwell is sharing the positivity around the Stadium of Light, despite last night’s Carabao Cup exit. The 39-year-old, who made more than 90 appearances between 1998 and 2004 and also captained the side, said: “There’s more optimism around the place now. The constant managerial changes are all well and good but the change of ownership needed addressing and that’s the most positive thing from where I’m looking at. The manager is a breath of fresh air, he seems to be a great guy. We’re near where we need to be again. George Honeyman and Lynden Gooch can make a real difference, they are going to be fan favourites. Honeyman getting the captaincy hopefully can galvanise the club. There are some lads who have been signed who three or four years ago would never have had the chance to play for Sunderland, wouldn’t have been anywhere near. But they’re players of this level and we’re at that level, we just need to get out of this league as quick as we can. We need to maintain the decent start in the league. I saw us last night. It’s a tough one but it was never going to be the be all and end all. If we can get positive results at home, and turn the 30,000 into 35,000, then 40,000...”

Thirlwell is now assistant manager at Harrogate Town, who are heading in the right direction following their promotion from National League North last season. If the recent pattern continues, we’ll be playing them next season. Of his current team, he said: “We want to compete in the National League. We were kind of sure we could but until the games start you’re not quite sure. Until the season started, if someone asked me I’d be lying if I said ‘yeah, were gonna be all right’ – but we’re unbeaten in four games, beat Barnet on Tuesday night, it’s going well. We want to consolidate at this level, take baby steps, if you like. But the ambition is to make Harrogate a Football League club. We don’t want to be in this league for five or 10 years.”

Just two leagues separate his current team and the one he watched as a bairn from the Fulwell End but it’s not all plain sailing for the North Yorkshire team at the moment, ahead of tomorrow’s match at Aldershot, with the Friday afternoon traffic testing Paul’s positivity. He said: “We’re currently stuck on the M1 doing one mile an hour near Milton Keynes. It’s a pain in the arse really - but things like this build a bit of team spirit.”

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