Why Portsmouth keeper Craig MacGillivray is grateful to Harrogate manager Simon Weaver

Craig MacGillivray returns to the club where it all began for him when Pompey take on Harrogate Town in the FA Cup first round on Monday.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 6:00 am
Craig MacGillivray

And the Blues’ goalkeeper has said he will always be ‘grateful’ to Town manager Simon Weaver ahead of the televised tie.

It will be familiar surroundings for the 26-year-old when Pompey make the trip to Wetherby Road.

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The Scot spent two seasons with Harrogate after joining in the summer of 2012.

Town boss Weaver was the man to hand MacGillivray his chance in senior football.

And that is something the Pompey goalkeeper will be forever ‘grateful’ for as the pair prepare to meet once more – this time with opposing teams.

MacGillivray told the Harrogate Advertiser: ‘I did okay in my first match (an FA Cup tie against West Auckland) and Simon Weaver stuck with me. From there I barely missed a game.

‘It would have been easy for the manager to go straight back to José Veiga when he was fit again because he was the more experienced goalkeeper, however, he must have seen something in me.

‘I was 19 years old, I wouldn’t have said I was playing perfectly, but he still gave me that chance and fair play to him for that.

‘I 100-per-cent feel grateful to him for putting his faith in a 19-year-old.

‘It’s a feather in his cap, too, because he recognised my potential and I eventually went from Conference North, as it was then, to League One.’

MacGillivray believes coming through the non-league ranks had a major benefit on his career.

And the 26-year-old reckons it provides a great learning ground for young players looking to make their way in the game.

‘There are things I learned at Harrogate Town that I still do today,’ MacGillivray added.

‘I took a lot from non-league and I would 100-per-cent say to a young player looking to make it professional that it’s the way to go.

‘It might be an opinion that not a lot of people share these days, but I’d say send young lads to non-league to learn something completely different.

‘Yes, there are some brutes there who think “let’s see if this young lad can take a whack”, and it can be tough, but it makes you stronger and it makes you a better player.’