George Smith lifts the lid on his frustration during the 2018/19 season at Chesterfield
George Smith has lifted the lid on his frustrating 2018/19 season at Chesterfield.
The full-back, who signed for Town's National League rivals Harrogate this summer, fell out of favour with boss Martin Allen not long after the start of the campaign.
He spent time on loan at Dover, before being sent back by the Kent outfit.
But he claims he had to train on his own, away from the Proact, before an eventual return and subsequent loan move to Boston United.
He told the Harrogate Advertiser he's out to make up for lost time, having played just nine National League games last season.“Last season was really frustrating and so it was massively important that I made the right move this summer,” he said.
“I was adamant that I wanted to stay in this league. I know how good I am and I know my own worth.
“I need to make up for last year and coming to Harrogate Town is perfect for me. It’s been a breath of fresh air.
“It’s gone really well so far. I feel like I’m one of the lads already and the fans seem to have taken a liking to me.
“I’m looking forward to the start of the season, it’s going to be a big one for me.”
The Barnsley lad, bought by Jack Lester from Northampton in January 2018 for an undisclosed fee, felt he got off to a good start under Lester's replacement Martin Allen, before things unravelled.
“The manager who brought me to Chesterfield left so Martin Allen came in and I thought that he’d taken a decent liking to me," Smith said.
“I played a few games at the start of 2018/19 and thought I did okay. Then, after we lost 3-2 at Barrow in August having been 2-1 up he turned around and told the majority of the squad who were left from the previous season that we could leave if we wanted to.
“From there I went out on loan to Dover where I felt I was playing well, though the team weren’t getting results. The manager got sacked and Andy Hessenthaler got the job.
“I’d played every game prior to his arrival but straight away he said he wanted to bring in his own players and told me he’d be sending all the loan players back to their clubs.
“It was frustrating because he just turned around and said that I won’t even get the chance to show him what I can do.”
But he says an immediate return to the Proact fold was not possible.
“Between myself and my agent we contacted Martin Allen, his goalkeeping coach and the chief executive about me coming back to train with the club," he said.
“Eventually the chief executive told my agent that they didn’t want me to come in because they had a harmonious group.
“I couldn’t have played because my loan with Dover hadn’t been cancelled, but I wanted to go and train because I thought it was the right thing to do.
“Instead I was told to stay away so I stopped at home, went to the gym on my own and did some running to keep myself as fit as I could.
“I felt a bit isolated, but at the same time I was still in touch with all the lads at the club, so it wasn’t too bad, but not a nice situation to be in.
“That was in early November and then in mid-December Martin Allen rang me and asked what I’d been doing.
“I said I’d been training on my own because he wouldn’t have me at the club.
“He denied ever having said that I couldn’t train and so I went back."
The departure of Allen brought John Sheridan to the Spireites hotspot, but Smith still couldn't force his way into the team and ended up on loan with the National League North Pilgrims.
“I tried my best in training to impress him, but he told me that there were two left-backs in front of me," said the former Barnsley defender.
“It was tough because I was just never given the opportunity to change anyone’s perception of me. If I’d had that chance I think things would have worked out differently.
“I don’t hold any grudges though. That’s just football. Each manager is entitled to pick whoever they want.
“I didn’t mind going out on loan. I just wanted to play. It’s my job, I’d go to the other end of the country to play – as was the case when I went to Dover earlier in the season."
The 22-year-old is confident he can put the 2018/19 disappointments behind him and begin to enjoy the game again with his new club.
“Obviously, Harrogate is much closer to home, however, and that’s a big plus.
“I think that I’m now in the right place to try and kick on and get back to enjoying my football."