STUART McCall never imagined he would be managing City against Harrogate in a league encounter.

But the Bantams boss is delighted to see the EFL new boys creating their own football identity.

The two clubs will meet head-to-head in a competitive fixture for the first time tonight when Harrogate head to Valley Parade.

The televised League Two fixture will once again highlight how far Simon Weaver’s side have come – and McCall is chuffed to see that progress.

He has lived locally to the North Yorkshire town for many years and witnessed at close quarters the emergence of their club.

McCall, who is likely to include weekend capture Austin Samuels in his squad, said: “I remember years ago when I came back down from Scotland.

“There’s the big open space in Harrogate they call the Stray and all you used to see were Leeds United tops.

“Then, when we managed to play in the Premier League it was great to walk round there and there were as many Bradford City tops.

“Now you go down there and there are more Harrogate shirts than anything. It’s great for the folk in the town.

“The Weaver family have obviously worked hard and they’ve been well backed financially. I just think it’s a great story.

“It’s a good place and they thoroughly deserve to be where they are now in league football.”

Simon Weaver has been in charge of Harrogate since 2011, making him the longest-serving manager in the EFL. McCall insists that continuity has been a big factor in the club’s rise up the pyramid.

“They’ve managed to put down roots and done it extremely well,” he added. “Simon has done a very good job ably assisted by Paul Thirlwell, who I worked with at Sheffield United.

“I've taken in a few games there but we’ve been in contact with them over the seasons. They’ve taken a few of our loan players and we’ve played them in pre-season.

“The one downside for them is that they’ve had to dig up the artificial pitch for being in the EFL.

“It might cost the club money in other revenue. I’ve taken my grandkids down there to do football coaching schools and things like that.

“I certainly know they got a lot of revenue through that. Hence a lot of clubs in Scotland go that way because it brings money in throughout the week.

“But hopefully they’ll have a lovely grass surface to play on that is well bedded in by the time we go there.”

McCall saw Bolton inflict Harrogate’s first defeat of the season last week at Doncaster but knows City will be in for a tough game against fired-up opponents.

“I’ve got full respect for them. Watching them last Saturday, you can tell they are good, together bunch who’ve had a lot of success recently.

“They’ve managed to get a good winning mentality and they certainly aren’t there just to make the numbers up.

“They’ll have a real positive mindset to finish in the top half of the table. From what I’ve seen up to now, I don’t see any reason why they can’t do that.

“I would never have thought I’d be facing them in the league. Hopefully it will be managing against them and beating them, that would be nice.”