Exclusive: Jack Diamond on Harrogate Town being left in the dark - and what Sunderland have said about his future
At one point it looked as if the Sunderland youngster – who is on loan at the CNG Stadium - would be set to clinch a maiden promotion with his temporary side, as rumours circulated that the National League season would be prematurely concluded with the top two promoted to the EFL.
Harrogate, sat second, would therefore be major beneficiaries.
Later came claims the season would be declared null and void and finally, clarity – the National League will aim to play on.
Like the rest of the footballing world, Diamond and his Harrogate teammates have been glued to social media all week. They too have been left in the dark, reliant on rumours to find out what may happen next.
“There’s been a lot of rumours and we don’t really know which way it’s going,” said Diamond, speaking exclusively to the Echo.
“At the start of the week there were a lot of rumours that the league was going to finish and the top two were going to go up.
“We put that in the group chat we have with one of the members of staff and they said the club had heard nothing, and that it was just rumours.
“We just don’t know what to do or think. It’s just a lot of rumours going round at the moment.
“It’s one of those things and we’re just sitting in a weird place.
“But I think everyone is. I was speaking to Jordan [Hunter] at South Shields. They were sitting 12 points clear and their league got voided and now they won’t get promotion.
“Nobody knows what is happening.”
Diamond and Harrogate haven’t taken to the field in a league game since March 7, where a 1-1 draw with Bromley – in which the young Sunderland forward netted – helped cement their promotion hopes.
It was the 20-year-old’s fourth goal of the season, all of which have come since mid-January with Diamond having become a key cog in Simon Weaver’s odds-defying side.
The loanee is therefore somewhat disappointed not to get the opportunity to continue his run in the side, but understands that health trumps all during these uncertain times.
“It has been good,” said Diamond of recent form.
“I’ve just kept working, I knew it wasn’t going to be something that happened overnight, and it’s something I’ve kept working on and I’m starting to see the fruits of it now.
“I just want to keep pushing to where I want to be.”
“It was a bit of a blow [to see fixtures halted], but you’ve just got to take it as it comes,” he continued.
“When you get a bit of form and momentum going you want to keep playing, especially because we’re sitting second at the moment.
“It’s a good position to be in and hopefully the league goes ahead and we can just keep going - but health comes over everything.”
There are hopes that the National League will eventually resume and conclude what looked set to be an intriguing battle for promotion to League Two.
But with fixtures currently suspended indefinitely, there are question marks over whether players out of contract at the end of the current campaign will be able to feature when the schedule restarts. Diamond also falls into that category, with his loan deal with the North Yorkshire side set to expire in May.
However, a deal has already been provisionally agreed for the forward to remain at the CNG Stadium.
That’s good news for Diamond, who is keen to help the side finish what they have started, and seal a first ever shot at League Two.
“I’ll be staying,” he said.
“I spoke to Bally [Kevin Ball, Sunderland loan manager] about it and he just said we’d get it extended so that I can finish the season because they don’t want me to miss the best part - the part where we could win promotion.
“I’ll finish the season there and then go back to Sunderland, that’s the plan.
“I think everyone knows, especially with the season we’ve had, that we’re doing well and have every chance to go up.
“I’ve been quite a big part of that and it would be a shame if I couldn’t help us finish it.”
In the short-term, though, Diamond is focusing purely on maintaining his fitness levels during a period without fixtures.
Harrogate have provided the youngster with a fitness programme to follow, and he’s pounding the streets in a bid to ensure he is in peak condition for when the season hopefully kicks-off once more.
“I’m struggling a bit, because I don’t know what to do without football,” he admitted.
“But I’m making do. I’m getting out for runs and doing what I can to try and stay fit in case the league does go ahead again.
“It’s hard but you’ve just got to treat it like a pre-season.
“I would take care of myself anyway so I’m just taking the opportunity to tick over.
“It’s something to do at the end of the day and it’s better than sitting in the house all day.
“Nobody knows when the league will start again, but hopefully it does go ahead because we want to finish what we started.
“Everyone is feeling the same, taking it seriously and we’ll make sure we’re ready.”