08:00AM, Saturday 23 May 2020
Harry Pritchard, the Bradford City winger who moved from Maidenhead United just under two years ago, still has a big soft spot for his old club.
The Magpies, who guided the player from grassroots football into the professional game, still has a very special place in Pritchard’s heart and he admitted last week he regularly watches old match highlights and takes part in the club’s quizzes on social media.
He may have moved to pastures new, and sampled life in League 1 and 2 with Blackpool and now Bradford City, but Maidenhead United, York Road and its supporters still tug at the old heart strings.
“Maidenhead will always have a special place in my heart and I do try and get back to York Road when I can,” he said. “Every week I follow their results. I do miss it, but things happen for a reason and I did move on.
“I also miss the atmosphere and the crowd, who were always behind you, every single game.”
Last week Pritchard tuned in to watch the club’s ‘Mags of the Day’ re-run of the game against Tranmere Rovers. A huge scalp at the time and it was Pritchard who swept home the winner for Alan Devonshire’s men in the second half. He was also at York Road to see Maidenhead’s last game, a 2-1 defeat to Stockport County that probably shouldn’t have gone ahead with the coronavirus already taking a grip on the country.
“Every time I see on Twitter or social media that there’s highlights of a game or even little quizzes, I try to take part,” he said. “I do enjoy watching them back. It’s strange watching it again because when you’re playing in games you forget certain things that happen. It brings back some good memories.”
For the past two seasons Pritchard has been making new memories in the tangerine of Blackpool and now the claret and amber of Bradford City. It hasn’t all been plain sailing, mainly due to persistent injuries that have checked his progress. However, he was playing well for a Bradford side that were pushing for the play-offs when the season was halted indefinitely due to COVID-19. It now looks like the League 2 season won’t be completed, but, despite his disappointment at missing out on a potential play-off push, Pritc-hard only wants to return to football when it’s safe to do so.
“The other day we were told that League 2 had a meeting with representatives from every club and they had come to a decision not to continue the season,” said Pritchard. “I’m not sure if that’s been 100 per cent confirmed but the talk seems to be that they’re going to finish this season and continue to work towards next season.
“There was still a lot of games to be played and points to be earned, so it’ll be disappointing to have to finish the season, but obviously health is so much more important than football at times like this. I know everyone keeps saying it but, me personally, I’d much rather be healthy and be able to play next season, than continue this season and potentially put myself and others at risk of becoming unwell.”
He admits life in lockdown has been a strange and unsettling time, but Pritchard, a former personal fitness instructor, believes this background in health and fitness has helped him adapt to it better than other players. He’s also given his injured back some much needed time to recover and hopes to have a clean bill of health when he and his teammates eventually do return for training.
“For me this period hasn’t been too bad,” he said. “I used to run my own personal training business so I know what to do and what not to do, but for others it will be a real struggle for motivation.
“We just need to keep working hard, keep ticking over and hopefully we can get back together soon in preparation for next season.
“I’ve enjoyed these past two seasons and have learned a lot. Injury wise it’s been one of those things, but I feel that I’ve got better as a player, learning from those who have played at a higher level. This lockdown period has also been good for my reoccurring back injury.
“Last season I felt I was playing well, getting a good run of games and now I’m focused on helping Bradford kick on and get promotion next season. It would be lovely to get the season started as close to the normal time as possible. There may be no fans in the ground which is understandable, but fans make the game really. It will be quite strange if we have to play in empty stadiums, but if it means we can get back to football in a safe way then it has to happen. At Bradford there are two huge stands which are usually packed out for home games so it will be strange, but if that means everyone’s safe and well, and we can start filtering people in through the season, that will have to be the way.”
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