Ex Chester FC midfielder Danny Harrison defends the quality of the Welsh Premier League

Reporter:

Tom Norris

DANNY HARRISON believes the Welsh Premier League is more than a match for the National League.

Harrison made 29 appearances in 18 injury hit months in the top tier of non league football with Chester, before joining Gap Connah’s Quay in the Welsh Premier a year ago.

The 33-year-old, who works for the Liverpool FC Foundation, signed initially on a six-month deal at Nomads, but that was quickly extended by a further two years after a successful end to the 2014/15 season.

Nomads were suitably impressed by the former Rotherham and Tranmere midfielder to offer him a contract extension, and the admiration worked both ways with Harrison, pictured in action this season, more than happy to ply his trade in the Welsh league.

“It probably gets bad press,” declared Harrison, who has played in 19 of 23 league matches this season. “It is tougher than what I imagined it would be like, but I only really knew Michael Wilde and Phil Baker.

“It was a step into the unknown, but you only need to take a look at the squad we’ve assembled to see that Connah’s Quay want to go places and the players we’ve signed are not in it for a jolly.

“It is testament to the league that the standard of the player has improved and I wouldn’t say it has been a pleasant surprise, because I didn’t expect anything, but it has become a genuine root for players to go on to bigger and better things.

“If you look at the National League then the standard is similar. The comparisons with the National League are good and the standards are not far apart.”

Harrison, who has helped Nomads secure four points from a possible six against full-time The New Saints recently, continued: “There are tough obscure grounds and some disgusting games in both leagues.

“Both leagues show you how important it is to apply yourself properly and both are not easy leagues at all.

“One of my first games in the Welsh Premier League was away at Bala on an absolute mud bath on a Friday night, but there are tough games like that in the Football League as well.

“The introduction of 3G pitches have helped the standard of play and more players are happy to come to the league and give it a go.”

Harrison is joined at Nomads by former Chester players Paul Linwood, George Horan, John Danby, Wes Baynes, Jon Disney and Shaun Miller.

The majority of those six players enjoyed a more successful stint at Chester than Harrison, but the defensive midfielder has no hard feelings when he looks back on his time at the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium.

“It didn’t work out for me, but I am big enough and ugly enough to understand why I left,” said Harrison. “I still look out for their results, Ian Sharps is a good friend of mine, and they have been a little bit up and down this season.

“Steve Burr has improved the club and the standard of football. 

“The next step is to try and secure a top half finish before pushing on and trying to get in the play-offs in future seasons.”

Competition for Harrison’s affection is tough in the National League with Tranmere, a club the midfielder played over 130 times for either side of a five-year stay at Rotherham, also vying for a return to the Football League.

Harrison, who coaches Tranmere’s Under-15s, said: “I’d love to see both clubs do well, but obviously I spent a lot of time at Tranmere and I was of the opinion that it would be difficult for them to bounce back up.”

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