Harrop eyes league and FA Vase double
ANGELO Harrop believes Leiston can win the Ridgeons League and at least reach the FA Vase final this season.
Harrop, who joined Leiston in the summer after winning the Premier Division with Needham Market last season, sees no reason why the Suffolk side can’t emulate the feat achieved by Sudbury Town as long ago as 1989 but not equalled by a Ridgeons League side since.
“Every player wants to win the league and the Vase, and I really do believe we will win the league and at least get to the final,” he said.
Harrop and Leiston face a tough test in the fourth round this afternoon at Guildford City, who are undefeated in the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League with 15 wins and five draws so far this season and currently sit five points clear at the top of the Premier Division.
“It will be a very difficult game,” acknowledged Harrop, “but if we are looking to move up the leagues with the team we have got we should not be happy to finish second or third in the league and get to quarter-finals of the Vase - we want to win it.”
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A few eyebrows were raised in the summer when Harrop left Needham after just one season to follow new manager Mark Morsley (who was Needham’s general manager last season) to Victory Road, especially as Needham had won the Premier Division and opted to move up to the Ryman League.
The silky-skilled midfielder said: “It was a very difficult decision to leave as we had won the league and done well in the cups and I had a good relationship with the manager Danny Laws.
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“I can’t say enough good things about Danny. He said he would improve my game and get me to score more goals, and I have got ten already this season. It was an area I needed to improve on, and this has been my best season so far.
“But basically Mark told me Leiston’s plans for the next five years and how ambitious they were, and I decided to come with him. I knew what good players were here because of playing against them before.
“Since last season Leiston have also signed the likes of Gareth Heath and Danny Smy and the all-round strength of the squad is very good.”
The 24-year-old, whose father is ex-Colchester United director of youth football Geoff Harrop who is now Head of youth at Torquay United, still harbours hopes of playing in the Football League. He was with Colchester United’s Academy from the age of eight until he was 18 and then had a year with Rushden & Diamonds.
After a two-month spell in Romania he returned to play for Stanway Rovers, where he spent two seasons and it was while he was at The Hawthorns that he spent a week training with the first team at League Two side Aldershot, and was offered the opportunity to return for pre-season training.
Cambridge City were also interested in him training with them, but ‘Gino’, as he is known to his team-mates, did not wish to risk being without a club at the start of the season and so signed for Needham instead.
“Maybe I should have gone back to Aldershot and done pre-season with them, but I chose not to.
“However, I honestly believe I can still play in the Football League - I know it’s ambitious but I do believe it. I am going to the gym every day and looking to go as high as I can.”