Programme Review: 2021/22 FC Halifax Town

Fixture: Emirates FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round Replay

Date: Tuesday 19 October 2021 

Teams: FC Halifax Town v Pontefract Collieries

Venue: The Shay Stadium

Result: FC Halifax Town (1) – (0) Pontefract Collieries

Programme cost: Complimentary

Pages: 36

The FA Cup has taken a battering over the last few years with its importance to clubs clouded by the riches of the UEFA Champions League, and the money earned as members of the Premier League. But it has also been eroded in other ways. What traditionally has been the closing fixture of a domestic season has seen it shifted to before the end of season, and also kick-off time moved from its 3pm slot. Replays too have been deemed surplus to requirements from certain rounds in order to reduce the number of games played by the ‘stars’ of the Premier League, although there is a certain irony as invariably Premier League clubs generally don’t field a full strength side and resting the aforementioned ‘stars’.

Thankfully replays still survive in the earlier rounds although only one is permitted and so fans will never again witness the type of marathon that occurred in the 1971/72 FA Cup. Back then, the Fourth Qualifying Round game between Alvechurch and Oxford City became the longest FA Cup tie ever, lasting a total of eleven hours before Alvechurch won the fifth replay 1–0. The six matches were played at five different grounds – Alvechurch’s Lye Meadow (2-2), Oxford City’s White House ground (1-1), St Andrew’s, Birmingham (1-1), Oxford United’s Manor Ground (0-0 and 0-0) and finally, Villa Park, Birmingham (1-0 to Alvechurch). Sadly, a piece of Cup tradition and magic lost and never to be repeated.

So to the programme for this game coming about after Northern Premier League East Division Pontefract Collieries held National North side FC Halifax Town to a 0-0 draw. Good planning by Halifax will have seen their media team prepared for a replay in terms of programme content. On the night and with a short turnaround the 36-pager is impressive.

In terms of size it is the commonly used A5, with a thicker paper (especially the cover) and a colour matt finish, different to many clubs who print with a thinner paper and gloss colour finish. The cover proudly gives the title of the programme, the Shaymen Shout, (the club play at The Shay Stadium with the club nicknamed The Shaymen) and carries a wonderful image of Jordan Slew in the game at Pontefract. Standard details include, issue number, teams, competition, date and kick-off time, as well as the logos of the FA Cup, and the club’s three main sponsors, Core, nuie and Adidas.

The inside cover (page 2) is an advert for the Kick It Out campaign, although it is last season’s version. Contents are listed on page 3, with  a list of club officials. Pages 4 and 5 are Boardroom Notes, which provide a reflection on the game at Pontefract, a general overview on the Fourth Qualifying Round results and update on the injuries within the club, accompanied by an action shot from the game against The Colls. This is followed by another double-page spread, this time given over to manager Pete Wild with the background a cracking image of the Shaymen’s gaffer. It is a short piece with the usual welcome to the visitors, thoughts on the tie at Pontefract and a thank-you to the fans for their continued support. Captain’s Column from Niall Maher can be found on pages 8 and 9 with a full page picture of the skipper training and his views on the draw at Ponte, his disappointment at the draw for the First Round and a look ahead to the next league fixture at Solihull Motors.

The next four pages are given over to a feature article titled Meynell’s Memories, 100 Years of The Shay, which is an interesting read. It opens with a reminder that the last time Pontefract were at The Shay, they were beaten 14-3 in a West Riding County Cup match. What is not mentioned though is that Halifax were thrown out of the competition for fielding an ineligible player Instead the focus of the piece is a look at the FA Cup Second Round Replay from January 1967 when Halifax beat Bishop Auckland 7-0 and a profile on one of the scorers that day, Bill Atkins.

Page 14 is the FA’s advert for its Player app, with page 15 an advert for the club’s home shirt and on-line shop. There follows a double-spread given over to the Travellers’ Tales and their description of the day out at Ponte in the tie from a fans perspective. This brings us to the centre-fold which has a picture of the current FC Halifax Town squad. There is no title to say as such or indeed details of the squad line-up and it would have been useful to have included them.

Page 20 is an advert for one of the club’s sponsors, Core, with page 21 a slightly strange image given it shows a part of the home end terrace with no text to provide any context – maybe just a page filler given the tight deadline for production. The next four pages are for the Shaymen’s club fundraising and commercial efforts with Play the Square and Goal O’ Meter on pages 22 and 23 respectively and a double-page spread for player sponsorships.

The visitors Pontefract Collieries are afforded the next four pages, with In Brief, (manager) Craig Rouse and Club Connections featured on page 27 against a great backdrop picture of Pontefract’s Regional Electrical Service Stadium, with 10 things about The Colls on the next page. The shame about the 10 things list, is that some are repeated from the content on page 27. Page 29 provides a match report from the Last Time Out, which could have benefitted from the addition of the team-line-ups. The one thing that leaps out in respect of the visitors content and which may have been useful for home fans to read would have been the pen-pics for Ponte.

Page 30 is an advert for club sponsor nuie, with the next a guide to the forthcoming away game at Solihull Moors, including details of the nearest Wetherspoons to the venue! Pages 32-33 are the Fixtures and Results, with all the associated annotation required to understand competition, goal-scorers and team line-ups. Page 34 is an advert for the next home game v Dagenham & Redbridge and 35 (the inside cover) a picture of club skipper Maher applauding the home crowd. Finally, the back cover provides the team badges and squad lists with details of the match officials. It also handily includes a QR code which links to the club website.

Overall this a decent effort, which has good clean design and some great images which are not just the run-of-the-mill actions shots but enhance and complement the text. There are some typos and areas where content could be improved, but given the turnaround time for production, they can be forgiven.


2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 14 – Tuesday 08 October 2019: FC Halifax Town v Chorley

Teamsheet and programme

As you may have noticed much of my journey has been unaccompanied, with the exception of the Barnsley, Bolton Wanderers and Stockport County games all attended with a couple of friends both coincidentally called Sally, Glossop North End with Nick and of course the first game with Tianna. As an only child I was very happy with my own company and this has extended into adulthood. It means that going to games on my own is generally par for the course and it does provide an opportunity to speak to the locals and fellow football fans at the fixtures I attend if I choose to. All of that was about to change.

I had been posting my journey on my Facebook page and an old friend from work contacted me and asked if he could accompany me to a game and we agreed on a midweek trip to FC Halifax Town. Paul was to become a frequent companion on my journey and provide me with a huge amount of support and inspiration to achieve the 50 games target. This game in West Yorkshire was to ignite a great friendship in the coming New Year. I first met Paul at work, where we shared an office but worked in different departments and we’d often have a chat about football. I didn’t realise at the time, but we were both going through a pretty traumatic period in our lives, but I really enjoyed his company and our footballing chats. Paul left the Council to pursue a career in football, primarily journalism. We kept in touch as you do through social media and met up at the West Riding County Cup Final in April 2017, Tadcaster Albion versus Farsley, incidentally another trip with Nick too.

I’d had a breakdown in 2016, partially brought on by the death of my Dad in 2014, partially being within, what I was to find out later, was a toxic relationship followed by a four year bitter divorce and access proceedings, hence the games with Tianna at the start of this journey being extra special. I have suffered from depression, probably before, and since and have been on medication. I suffer swings of mood between highs and lows and I try to recognise and manage the lows and sometimes set myself ambitious challenges, such as this journey, to give myself a target to drive myself through those lows with something to look forward to that I enjoy. Along this journey I have experienced both and Paul has been a great help during these times. More of this in the articles to come.

Back to the game with FC Halifax Town hosting Chorley.

Halifax Town AFC was a former league club who in 2008 were dissolved with the phoenix club, FC Halifax Town placed into the Northern Premier League (NPL) Division One North in the 2009/10 season. The original club, nicknamed The Shaymen, were a founder member of the Third Division North in 1921 ten years after their formation and remained in the third and fourth tiers all of their years in the league before relegation to the Conference in 1993. They regained their league status for four years between 1998 and 2002 but suffered relegation back to the Conference and then went into administration at the end of the 2007/08 campaign. The ‘new’ club from 2009/10 worked its way through the NPL and have since 2017/18 been in the topflight of the non-league structure.

For this game, I met Paul in the Three Pigeons for a couple pre-match drinks and by the time we left it was absolutely throwing it down of rain. We walked down the hill to the stadium joking at the prospect of seeing a goalless draw on such a miserable night, having told Paul of my misfortune at the recent Blackpool fixture. The entrance to The Shay, is the new part to the stadium, with the site itself having been Halifax’s’ home since joining the league in 1921. The main stand itself is an impressive structure but is slightly odd in that one corner section has not been completed and has been that like for a number of years, a reminder of the clubs troubled financial past. We took up our seats fairly close to the half-way line but had a group of “Soccer YEAH!” boys sat behind us who talked incessantly through the game. They proved to be at times amusing and at others irritating.

First-half Halifax free-kick

Going into this game, Halifax sat at the top of the table, with Chorley in the lower reaches having had a poor start to the campaign. Therefore it was no surprise that the Magpies set off from the start with a back-five and were happy to allow The Shaymen plenty of possession. Ironically though it was Chorley who had the first real chance of the game after fifteen minutes, when a dangerous cross from Marcus Carver just eluded the Chorley forwards. This was followed moments later by a chance for Adam Blakeman, who despite being in a good position, fired well over the Halifax bar. What with the wind and rain and the resolute defending from Chorley, the home were struggling to make their possession count, but four minutes before the break, Liam McAlinden created a chance for himself, only to see his shot sail high and wide.

The second-half started where the first had left off with Halifax seeing plenty of the ball with half chances created for Michael Duckworth and McAlinden. Halifax manager Pete Wild tried to mix things up with substitutions on fifty-seven and sixty-nine minutes to get the breakthrough and it nearly worked with nineteen minutes remaining. Sub Jamie Allen played in Jerome Binnom-Williams, but his shot was straight at Chorley ‘keeper Matt Urwin. Into the last ten minutes, with Halifax still plugging away, substitute Cameron King had a shot blocked, which fell to fellow sub Allen, however his effort could only find the side netting. It was the last real chance and Chorley had earned a point with a resolute rear-guard action.

Paul had up and until that evening watched nineteen games and not seen a 0-0. The curse of ‘Blighton’ had struck and we laughed as we reflected on our pre-match predication. To cap it off it was still bucketing down as we left the ground and dashed for the car. Football you’ve got to love it!


Tuesday 08 October 2019

Vanarama National League

FC Halifax Town 0 Chorley 0

Venue: The Shay Stadium

Attendance: 2,117

FC Halifax Town – Johnson, Duckworth, Binnom-Williams, Clarke, Nolan(Sho-Silva 80’) , J King (C King, 57’), Staunton, McAlinden, Williams (Allen 69’), Cooper, Southwell

Unused substitutes –Appleyard, Maher.

Chorley – Urwin, Challoner, Blakeman, Meppen-Walters, Cottrell, Baines, Nortey, Massanka (A Newby 69’), Ross, Dodds (O’Keefe, 77’), Carver (Holroyd, 90’)

Unused substitutes – E Newby, Eccles


Steve Blighton

Book Review: The Wessie – A History of the West Riding Senior Football Association Cup by Martin Jarred

The FA Cup is recognised as the oldest cup competition in the World with it first being played during 1871/72, when Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers 1-0 at the Oval in London. It predated the first Football League Championship in England by seventeen years, when Preston North End took the title.

The point of this brief timeline of English football? Well, simply that cup football came into being before the organisation of league football and perhaps was partly responsible for the special place the FA Cup competition once held within this country. Additionally, it is useful for understanding where the early power of the game was, with The FA coming into existence in 1863, and a number of County FA’s also being founded, for instance, the Sheffield & Hallamshire County FA (1867), Lancashire County FA (1878) and Cumberland FA (1884), before the Football League in 1888.

The West Yorkshire Association came into existence in 1896, due in part to the fact that this part of the country was dominated by the game of rugby. The fledgling organisation launched the West Yorkshire Cup in 1896/97 with Hunslet the winners in the four team competition, which included Bradford, Halifax, and Leeds.

The title of the book, The Wessie, takes its point of reference for the term for people living in the West Riding by those living in other parts of the Broad Acres of Yorkshire. What is immediately evident, is that this has been a real labour of love for its author, Martin Jarred, who came through Prostate Cancer to complete the book, from which half of the author’s royalties go towards Yorkshire Against Cancer in appreciation of the care and treatment he received.

In terms of contents, the book charts the history of the Senior Cup, which in its various guises was played for between 1896 until 1999, details of the County Cup from 2007 to 2019 (when the Senior Cup was presented to the County Cup winners) and a brief overview of key figures in the history of the West Riding County FA.

The amount of research that has gone into this book is staggering, with team-line ups, scorers, attendances, and venues, dating back to that first year of the cup back in 1896/97. It is a book that you will pick-up and put-down and learn something different every time. This includes the early influence of rugby with a number of the grounds used in the early years of the competition, such as Fartown (Huddersfield), Crown Flatt (Dewsbury) and Wheldon Road (Castleford), locations familiar to fans of the thirteen-a-side code. Other points of interest include seeing how players who became household names started off their careers in the Senior Cup such as John Charles, David Seaman, and many of the 60s and 70s renowned Leeds United teams.

The journey through the book is also a journey through the history and development of the game, with clubs going out of existence, in Leeds City and the original Bradford Park Avenue, and the introduction of innovations such as floodlights and substitutes.

However, the most significant factor is that this book is a record of a competition that is unlikely ever to be revived. If the FA Cup is treated with such distain these days, what chances do the County competitions have? The Wessie details how the Senior Cup in West Riding slowly but surely became nothing more than a nuisance in the football calendar, with the senior teams increasingly using it as a chance to blood youngsters or indeed decline to take part altogether and as a result crowds simply did not turn out to see what became games between teams of reserves. The wonderful Fratelli made trophy though at least does still live on, now presented to the County Cup winners, but the irony being that even some of those clubs taking part in recent years (from the National League, Northern Premier League, Northern Counties East League and North West Counties League), use the competition to play their reserves or Academy players and so means that there is little interest from spectators and certainly no financial reward. Will history repeat itself and see another competition consigned to the pages of history?

(Tony Brown. December 2019). Paperback 132pp)


2014/15: Pre-season Friendly – FC Halifax Town v Notts County

The 1991/92 season was the last of the ‘old’ First Division prior to the advent of the Premier League and saw West Ham United, Luton Town and Notts County relegated. How different would The Magpies future have been if they have been part of that inaugural Premier League season? Instead since that time, County have bounced around the lower divisions of the Football League, with their League One status only retained last season after winning six of their last eight games.

Teams prior to kick-off

FC Halifax Town have fought their way from the Northern Premier League Division One North in 2008/09 to the verge of promotion into the Football League last season. Unfortunately The Shaymen couldn’t clinch a return to the top 92 clubs in the country as they lost 2-1 in the Play-off Semi-Final to Cambridge United.

Still a new season brings new optimism and on a blindingly hot day, FC Halifax Town hosted Notts County at The Shay. Prior to kick-off, the sizeable travelling contingent of fans from Nottingham mixed with the home fans in the bar; where the news that ex-Manchester United keeper Roy Carroll was starting in goal for The Magpies was the main talking point.

In truth this was a poor ninety minutes, which may have been down to the extremely hot conditions (which necessitated a drinks break in both halves), but was also due in part to numerous substitutions that are a feature of pre-season games. The opening forty five minutes contained very few memorable moments in a goalless first-half. Town’s best chance fell to Matty Pearson as he forced Roy Carroll in tipping his effort over the bar. County though had the best of the opportunities and they had the ball in the net through Garry Thompson, but the effort was ruled offside. An even better chance fell to trialist Akwasi Asante, but his shot from six yards out was magnificently saved by Halifax keeper Matt Glennon. Then just before the break, Zeli Ismail had a long-range effort for The Magpies which hit the post.

Corner to Notts County

Both sides made various changes before the start and during the second-half. The most impressive player was Halifax trialist Jamie Jackson who proved to be a constant threat to the County defence and he scored the deciding goal with a jink and fine strike which fizzed past Carroll with nine minutes remaining.

For Notts County their mixed bag of pre-season results continued, whilst for Halifax it was a case of five wins out of six. However, both management teams will claim that these results mean very little and of course that is true and in reality it will all be about where these sides end the 2014/15 season. Will the experience of Alan Smith, Hayden Mullins and Roy Carroll keep The Magpies away from the relegation zone? How will The Shaymen manage without last season’s leading scorer Lee Gregory after his transfer to Millwall?

Bring on the new season!

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West Riding County FA: County Cup Final 2012/13 – FC Halifax Town v Guiseley AFC

Coral Windows Stadium, Valley Parade: Bradford City AFC

Tuesday 14 May 2013


The first winners of the County Cup were Leeds United Reserves in 1927 and apart from 1932 and the period from 1934 to 1949, it has been played for every season since. Goole AFC have won the trophy on most occasions with 13 wins, the first of which came in 1951 when they were known as Goole Town. Their last Cup win was in 2007 at Woodlesford (West Riding County FA Headquarters), when they beat Guiseley 3-1 with goals from Andy Parton and a brace from Duncan Bray.

In order to raise the profile of the competition, the Final has since 2011 been played at the home of Bradford City AFC and Guiseley have found this to their liking, after beating Thackley 4-2 (AET) in 2011 and Bradford Park Avenue 1-0 last year, at the home of The Bantams.

In terms of the 2012/13 competition, the round-by-round results have been as follows:


First Round

Armthorpe Welfare                    (1) – (4)        Barnoldswick Town

Farsley AFC                                  (1) – (4)         Albion Sports

Garforth Town                             (3) – (5)        Liversedge

Goole AFC                                     (1) – (0)        Pontefract Collieries

Knaresborough Town                 (3) – (2)        Brighouse Town

Ossett Albion                                (2) – (0)        Selby Town

Sildsen                                        Walkover        Askern Villa

Thackley                                        (1) – (2)         Tadcaster Albion

Wakefield                                      (1) – (5)         Ossett Town

Yorkshire Amateurs                    (2) – (5)         Harrogate Railway Athletic


Byes: Bradford Park Avenue, Eccleshill United, FC Halifax Town, Glasshoughton Welfare, Guiseley AFC and Harrogate Town.


Second Round

Albion Sports                                (3) – (0)        Glasshoughton Welfare

Guiseley AFC                                 (4) – (1)        Bradford Park Avenue

Harrogate Railway Athletic        (4) – (3)        Barnoldswick Town

Liversedge                                      (0) – (7)        FC Halifax Town

Ossett Albion                                 (0) – (1)        Harrogate Town

Ossett Town                                   (3) – (2)        Goole AFC

Silsden                                             (0) – (3)        Knaresborough Town

Tadcaster Albion                           (2) – (1)        Eccleshill United  [AET]


Quarter – Final

Albion Sports                               (0) – (2)        FC Halifax Town

Harrogate Railway Athletic       (3) – (2)        Tadcaster Albion

Harrogate Town                           (0) – (5)        Guiseley AFC

Ossett Town                                  (2) – (1)        Knaresborough Town [AET]


Semi- Final

Guiseley AFC                                 (5) – (0)        Harrogate Railway Athletic

Ossett Town                                   (0) – (1)        FC Halifax Town


playoffThe results meant that Guiseley made it to their third successive Final against fellow Blue Square Bet North opponents FC Halifax Town. During the season the two sides had met on four occasions. The first two meetings were the League encounters with both fixtures ending 1-1. As Guiseley finished second in the table and FC Halifax Town finished fifth the clubs faced each other in the Play-off Semi-Final. In the 1st Leg game at The Shay in front of a 2,367 crowd, Town went ahead with a penalty from Dan Gardner, only for Danny Ellis to equalise in the second-half to bring about a third successive 1-1 outcome between the teams. Something had to give in the 2nd Leg and it did as Town took the game with second-half goals from Alex Johnson and Lee Gregory to seal a 3-2 aggregate win. The teams were as follows:

Guiseley AFC – (1) Steve Drench, (2) Aaron Hardy, (3) Rhys Meynell, (4) Andy Pearson, (5) Danny Ellis, (6) Matt Wilson, (7) Jack Rea, (8) Andy Holdsworth, (9) Josh Wilson, (10) James Walshaw, (11) Gavin Rothery. Subs: (12) Mark Bower, (14) Jake Lawlor, (15) Seb Carole, (16) Phil Marsh, (18) Jacob Giles.

FC Halifax Town – (1) Matt Glennon, (2) Ryan Toulson, (4) Scott McManus, (4) Liam Hogan, (5) Matt Pearson, (6) Danny Lowe, (7) Liam Needham, (8) Sean Williams, (9) Alex Johnson, (10) Dan Gardner, (11) Lee Gregory Subs: (12) Phil Senior, (14) Jon Worthington, (15) Gareth Seddon, (16) James Bolton, (19) Adriano Moke.

Whilst there was huge disappointment for Guiseley, The Shaymen went on to seal promotion to the Blue Square Bet Conference Premier Division with a 1-0 win over Brackley Town. Now both sides had one last fixture at Bradford; for Halifax the chance to end the season with a ‘double’ celebration, whilst for Guiseley the opportunity to gain a consolation in terms of a third consecutive County Cup win.

For the Final the crowd was only admitted to the lower tier of the Co-operative Stand, so for the spectators it was an eerie scene looking out on the rest of the ground where the claret and amber seats were empty.  It was also hard to imagine that this was the same stadium where 28 years ago so many were tragically killed and injured in the Bradford fire, as all the old terraces and stands have since gone and been redeveloped. There is a feeling of lop-sidedness about the place now, as the main stand and Kop dwarf the Midland Road and TL Dallas stands, which was accentuated by the fact that these areas were empty for this game. Given that the season was at an end and the volume of games played on it, the pitch was in pretty good condition and certainly did not have any significant areas which were devoid of grass.

In the previous two Finals to be held at Valley Parade, the attendance had topped the 1,000 mark, but was on this occasion lower at 766. This may have been down to it coming just two days after Halifax gained promotion at Brackley and that it was a pretty chilly and damp evening. However, also part of the equation unfortunately, will be the fact that fans don’t see it as a priority and at the end of a long season, despite adult entry being only £7, people couldn’t be lured out. The reality is that all Cup competitions now suffer lower crowds which have hit the (Carling) League Cup and the FA Cup in recent years.

Whilst the fans may not have seen the Final as a being significant, it was a credit to both FC Halifax and Guiseley that they put out strong line-ups. Of the 32 players named in the Final, 22 (11 from each side) appeared in the 2nd Leg Play-off game at Guiseley. For the Final the teams were as follows:

FC Halifax Town: (1) Phil Senior, (2) James Bolton, (3) Jason St. Juste, (4) Ryan Toulson, (5) Matt Pearson, (6) Danny Lowe, (7) Adriano Moke, (8) Sean Williams, (9) Danny Glover, (10) Jon Worthington, (11) Gareth Seddon. Subs: (12) Matt Glennon, (14) Osebi Abadaki, (15) George Wysocki, (16) Josh Messer, (17) Alex Johnson

Guiseley AFC: (1) Steve Drench, (2) Andy Holdsworth, (3) Andy McWilliams, (4) Jack Rea, (5) Matt Wilson, (6) Mark Bower, (7) Seb Carole, (8) Gavin Rothery, (9) Josh Wilson, (10) James Walshaw, (11) Phil Marsh. Subs: (12) Wayne Brooksby, (14) Macaulay Parkinson, (15) Zack Dale, (16) Jacob Giles, (17) Luke Porritt.

004While the team lined up to be presented to the guest of honour, the Town fans made themselves heard with a chorus of “…Stand-up if you’re going up…”, just to make sure their opponents hadn’t forgotten the events of the last few days. Guiseley kicked off and had the better of the opening couple of minutes in terms of possession. However, it was Halifax who had the first attempt on goal of the game, when Gareth Seddon had a volley comfortably saved by Steve Drench. Encouraged by this Town started to dominate proceedings, with Glover prominent down the middle for The Shaymen and Moke getting wide. With nine minutes gone Halifax won the first corner of the game after a Seddon shot was deflected away. From the corner and play that switched across field, Seddon blazed the resulting effort over the bar. Halifax were growing in confidence and on twelve minutes, Adriano Moke collected the ball out wide on the left, cut in and curled his effort onto the bar. Guiseley struggled to get any foot-hold in the opening fifteen minutes, with their attacks limited to long balls forward which were often over-hit. However, on seventeen minutes The Lions at last fashioned a decent chance, as a shot from Seb Carole was parried but gathered at the second attempt by Town keeper Senior. This seemed to settle Guiseley as they had their best spell since the opening minutes of the game. However, Halifax stormed back and on nineteen minutes an excellent position from a free-kick was spurned by the taker Williams. Just three minutes later an ever better chance went begging when Seddon miskicked when well placed in the six-yard box. When Guiseley did get possession, they were unable to capitalise as they continued to give it away too easily. However, on the half-hour mark, The Lions had a shout for a penalty, as a shot from Josh Wilson struck Town defender Bolton who was on the ground; the referee rightly turned down the appeal. Halifax upped the tempo as in the space of five minutes they worked the flanks well to create good crossing opportunities, the first of which was well intercepted by Steve Drench and the other too long for the intended target Seddon. With ten minutes to go Guiseley created their best chance of the first-half as good work by Marsh released Walshaw who wastefully lashed the chance over the bar. It was certainly not a case of the half petering out quietly, as with thirty eight minutes on the clock, Town’s Seddon provided a knockdown for Moke which was drilled wide and then was quickly followed by a free-kick opportunity which was unfortunately wasted by St. Juste. Then with a minute to the break, Seddon disposed Guiseley keeper Drench, rounded him but saw his effort rebound back of the post, with nobody able to apply a finishing touch. It was by far the best chance of the half; in a forty five minutes which Halifax had created the better openings.

005Guiseley made a substitution at the start of the second-half with Phil Marsh replaced by Wayne Brooksby. Halifax kicked off and were immediately on the attack through Gareth Seddon, but his cross came to nothing. This was typical of the play in the opening five minutes as neither team settled into any sort of rhythm. However, on fifty one minutes the first corner of the second period was won by Guiseley; Gavin Rothery took it but the opportunity was wasted as it cleared the box and went straight out. Town responded immediately as after good work by Jason St. Juste out wide, Seddon had a shot on goal which was deflected for a corner. Moke took the kick, but the header from Bolton was off target. It was a good little spell for Halifax as they played on the break and created shooting opportunities for Sean Williams and Adriano Moke. As the game started to open-up, Guiseley countered with a period of pressure themselves, as James Walshaw had a shot from inside the box deflected for a corner. However, as with earlier in the half, a poor delivery meant the chance was wasted. With the game approaching the hour mark, The Lions kept up the pressure with an effort from Gavin Rothery, but it was straight at the keeper and easily gathered. Back came Town with two chances in a minute, but the efforts from Worthington and Seddon were comfortably dealt with by Drench in the Guiseley goal. On sixty six minutes, The Shaymen made their first substitution of the night as Danny Glover was replaced by Alex Johnson. Town continued to press and Moke created a shooting chance for St. Juste, but the effort drifted wide. On seventy minutes Town were forced into a second change, as the injured Worthington was replaced by Josh Messer and Guiseley also made a change with James Walshaw taken off (much to the delight of the Halifax faithful), with Zack Dale coming on. The substitutions and the persistent rain seemed to have a dampening effect on the game, with the play decidedly disjointed and even the hard-core fans of both sides reduced to barely a murmur. The gloom was broken by jeers from the Town fans when on seventy four minutes a free-kick taken by Guiseley’s Rothery saw the player slip over and end up on his backside. A couple of minutes later Halifax had an excellent chance to take the lead when substitute Messer found himself one-on-one with Guiseley keeper Drench, but the shot lacked strength and was easily gathered. Indeed as the game entered the last ten minutes it was The Shaymen who looked more likely to grab a winner with Moke a constant threat and shooting chances for Seddon, Williams and St. Juste. Guiseley struggled to get any possession in the closing period, but had a chance two minutes from time with a free-kick in a good position. However, the effort from Josh Wilson was high and wide and extra-time loomed ever closer. As the game went into the final minute of normal time, Town’s Moke provided another shooting chance for Sean Williams, but the effort was blocked. With the ninety minutes up, there were two minutes of time added-on for the teams to break the deadlock and once again Moke created the opportunity for The Shaymen after good work by him resulted in a corner. Jason St. Juste took the kick, but substitute Alex Johnson could only glance the header wide and so it was extra-time.

With the rain continuing to fall, Halifax started the first period the better of the teams, getting forward and maintaining possession. Five minutes in, Town appealed for a penalty when Matt Pearson went down after a challenge by Jack Rea, but the referee quickly turned it down. A couple of minutes later Guiseley had their first chance in extra-time, however, Josh Wilson pulled his shot wide. That was a rare moment of pressure from The Lions as Halifax continued to hold the upper hand and with the game entering the hundredth minute, the dangerous Moke got wide and crossed invitingly into the box. Despite having space, Alex Johnson could only head wide. Guiseley then made their last substitution with Jack Rea making way for Macaulay Parkinson. The rain was making conditions difficult and both sides hit a scrappy spell. Just when it looked like the game was going to remain goal-less at the end of the first period of extra-time, The Shaymen struck. Alex Johnson played a through ball to Gareth Seddon who collected it and from just inside the box, beautifully curled his shot into the top corner; a moment of quality which gave Halifax a 1-0 lead.

In the second period, with Guiseley in need of an equaliser, Seb Carole prompted The Lions search, but the Halifax defence held firm. However, for all their pressure and domination of the opening ten minutes of the half, Guiseley couldn’t turn their possession into actual chances. As the clock showed there were just five minutes to go, Halifax dug deep into their reserves and mounted some pressure of their own. First Alex Johnson was released on goal, but was flagged off-side and a couple of minutes later, Seddon had a long-range effort charged down. The Lions weren’t done though and with three minutes to go, Halifax just about cleared a corner from Guiseley. The final minutes proved to be nervous for Town as Guiseley continued to press with even keeper Steve Drench going forward. However, it was not to be for the team from Nethermoor and at the whistle it was Halifax who celebrated.

For Town it was the second occasion they have lifted the West Riding FA County Cup, whilst for Guiseley there was no third successive win. Both sides now look forward to the summer break. When the 2013/14 season kicks-off, The Shaymen will be just one promotion away from a return to the Football League. For The Lions, they will look to regroup and see if they can make it out of the Conference North after the Play-off defeats of the last two seasons. But for now, goodbye to the 2012/13 season…

2011/12: FA Cup 1st Round – Sheffield United v Oxford United

Friday 11 November 2011 (10.30 am)

With the (Budweiser) FA Cup 1st Round fixtures this weekend, the competition moves into its second phase. The six Qualifying Rounds, played every two weeks since 20th August this year and the domain of the non league clubs, now gives way to what is referred to by some as the FA Cup “proper” with the professionals coming to the table. However, for me it is a term which is ill used and can be seen as a slight to the clubs who have battled to this stage of the Cup. In all the games I have witnessed this season in the tournament, there is certainly no less desire, determination and excitement both from players or fans at being involved in the Qualifying part of the Cup than will be seen in the later Rounds. It would be churlish not to recognise too what a Cup run can achieve on a financial basis for a club, non-league or otherwise.

Tonight, battling for the right to be in the 2nd Round draw is a top of the table clash from the Blue Square Bet (BSB) Premier between former League rivals, Cambridge United and Wrexham. Wrexham currently lead the table on 40 points with Cambridge 4 points behind in third place. Despite the success on the pitch, behind the scenes Wrexham are still trying to secure its future. Fingers crossed that the Wrexham Supporters Trust are able to ensure football continues at this historic club in North Wales. These team met on the opening day of the season at the Racecourse Ground. Wrexham looked like they had done enough to claim victory with a goal on 17 minutes from (current caretaker player-manager) Andy Morrell. However, in injury time, Conal Platt’s goal grabbed a point for United.

In the Fourth Qualifying Round, both teams faced fellow BSB Premier opposition. Cambridge faced struggling Hayes & Yeading away, but came through comfortably  6-2. Wrexham were handed a much tougher challenge at home to high flying York City.  Wrexham went ahead early in the second half with a header from Nat Knight-Percival, but the lead was quickly wiped out as a Patrick McLaughlin free-kick brought York level. With the game entering the final ten minutes, the Racecourse faithful saw their team take the lead once more, as a David McGurk own goal handed a 2-1 win to Wrexham. It could be another tight encounter tonight.


Friday 11 November 2011 (10.15 pm)

Just as the fixture in the League proved to be a close one, so did the FA Cup meeting between Cambridge United and Wrexham. In a game of ‘cat and mouse’, Wrexham were twice ahead through Andy Morell, but were pegged back each time with a brace from United’s Josh Coulson. As in the League opening day meeting between these teams, Wrexham must have thought they had done enough to win, but conceded an equaliser (as they did back in August) to Cambridge in injury time.

Bring on the rest of the fixtures and all the stories that will unfold. The Cup weekend is underway!


Saturday 12 November 2011 (11.00 am)

The destination today is Bramall Lane, for the game between Sheffield United and Oxford United. The attraction? Well to be honest, there are a few. Firstly, I have a soft spot for The Blades, since on the day I was born, Fulham (my beloved Whites) played against Sheffield United in a First Division fixture at Bramall Lane. As such I feel I have a connection with the place. Secondly, it is one of my favourite grounds. It is a compact and atmospheric venue with a vocal home support. Thirdly, in practical terms it is easy to get to by train and lastly, the tickets are excellent value at just a tenner today.

There is also a good link today between the clubs, which adds a bit of spice to the fixture today, as current Oxford manager Chris Wilder is a boyhood Sheffield United fan and he also made over 100 appearances for The Blades in two spells at Bramall Lane. Also returning to the club he supported growing up, is Oxford goalkeeping coach Alan Hodgkinson who spent his entire professional career with Sheffield United, making 675 appearances.

Neither team has had a great November to date. In their League One fixture, The Blades lost at Stevenage last Saturday, with a penalty in the last ten minutes sealing a 2-1 win for the team from the Lamex Stadium. In midweek, it was a Yorkshire Derby at Bramall Lane in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Bradford City. Matt Phillips put United ahead on 27 minutes, but back came The Bantams to equalise before half-time through Michael Flynn. The score remained at 1-1 and so it was left to penalties to decide the tie. With penalties at 4-4 it went to Sudden-death where after Erik Tonne’s miss, Chris Mitchell sent Bradford City through 6-5. For Oxford United, November has seen them play Southend United twice in the last week.  In their League Two fixture at Roots Hall last Saturday, the home side Southend emerged 2-1 winners. In midweek, at home in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, Oxford had the chance to avenge that defeat, but in a game where United ended with nine men, a goal from Ryan Hall condemned Oxford to a second successive defeat to The Shrimpers. Two sides possibly low on confidence, but which United will emerge victorious today?


Saturday 12 November 2011 (11.00 pm)

As the players merged for their pre-match warm-ups they were greeted by a crisp day under a blue sky and fading weak November sun. Both teams went through their routines and the travelling Oxford fans made their presence felt in noisy anticipation of the game ahead. With both sides leaving the pitch as they completed their preparations, Oxford goalkeeping coach and ex-Blade Alan Hodgkinson received an excellent reception from the Bramall Lane faithful. Soon however, the teams emerged once again and after a well observed minutes silence ahead of Remembrance Sunday, the game was underway.

The first ten minutes disappeared in a frantic and scrappy opening with neither side creating a goal opportunity. However, with their first real attack, Sheffield United took the lead on 12 minutes. Richard Cresswell’s attempted over-head kick from Stephen Quinn’s cross fell to Ched Evan, who slammed it in to give The Blades the lead. The goal settled Sheffield and they took control of the remainder of the first half, with Oxford conceding the midfield area, The Blades took full advantage. Ryan Clarke in the Oxford goal made good saves from Ched Evans, Stephen Quinn and Lee Williamson in the opening 45 minutes, but was helpless on 19 minutes when Ched Evans arrowed in his second from a free kick. The home team led 2-0 at half-time and deserved their two goal advantage.

Oxford had to show more commitment in the second half and in at attempt to stir his side into action, manager Chris Wilder made a double substitution, with James Constable and Harry Worley replacing Paul McLaren and Jonathan Franks. It had a desired impact as Oxford did threaten the home goal. However, for all their ‘huff and puff’, the visitors were unable to create a real clear cut chance. The Blades continued to create opportunities and Evans was denied a hat-trick as Clarke continued with his heroics in the Oxford goal. However, the Oxford custodian must take some of the blame for the Sheffield goal on 71 minutes. Clarke came a long way off his line and failed to deal with the cross into the box and in the scramble, substitute Ryan Flynn drove home for The Blades third goal. The game was well and truly over and the last quarter of the game fizzled out as the Red and White half of Sheffield progressed into the draw for the FA Cup 2nd Round.

Credit to the Oxford United fans, they supported their side to the end and the club is now left to focus on promotion from League Two. It was a shame that despite the reduced ticket prices, less than 8,000 were at the game today. Personally I think it would have made for a better atmosphere if the Kop had been opened today rather than the Family Stand, as the home fans were on the whole pretty quiet and drowned out by the 2,000 plus travelling fans. However, the club obviously knew it would be a low crowd today and acted accordingly in making a financial decision to only open certain sections of the ground. A sad fact of modern day football that even the magic of the oldest Cup competition in the world can’t overcome.


Sunday 13 November 2011 (3.00 pm)

So what of the other “trail” sides from my FA Cup adventure this season? Well to paraphrase Bjørge Lillelien, my teams took a hell of a beating!

Blue Square Bet Premier side AFC Telford United got a 4-0 thumping at Chelmsford City from the Blue Square Bet South. The Clarets were 2-0 at half-time with goals from Aiden Palmer and Craig Parker. In the second half, City captain David Rainford completed the rout with a brace to send the team from Essex through.

After two impressive away wins at Hyde and Kidsgrove in the previous Rounds of the Cup, Bradford Park Avenue travelled to AFC Totton with confidence. However, the team from West Yorkshire simply imploded against their opponents from the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division. Richard Marshall was sent off for Avenue after 10 minutes and after 28 minutes of the game his team were losing 2-0. To their credit Bradford got one back through Adam Clayton on 30 minutes. However, any chance of a comeback was short-lived, as Michael Charles restored Totton’s two goal lead before half-time. The second half became simply calamitous for Avenue as Mike Gosney (51 minutes) and Stefan Brown (63 minutes) increased the score to 5-1. Avenue then were reduced to nine-men on 65 minutes when Martin Drury received a second yellow card. Stefan Brown completed his hat-trick with goals on 73 and 79 minutes and the 8-1 thrashing was completed in injury time by a second goal from Jonathon Davies.

FC Halifax Town featured as one of the televised games today against League One leaders Charlton Athletic and in truth didn’t deserve the 4-0 beating they got. Matty Taylor with a towering header put the Londoners’ ahead just five minutes before half-time. Nevertheless, Town were still in the game as the last ten minutes approached, however, a three goal burst from Jackson, Hollands and Pritchard, killed off Halifax and rather flattered Charlton.

Following the 2nd Round draw, the “trail” teams fixtures look like this:

 AFC Totton               v          Bristol Rovers

Charlton Athletic   v          Carlisle United

Chelmsford City     v          Macclesfield Town

Sheffield United      v          Torquay United


Sunday 13 November 2011 (5.30 pm)

The closing action of this Cup weekend was provided by Morecambe at home to Sheffield Wednesday. The Owls dominated the first half  and led 1-0 after the first 45 minutes, thanks to a goal from Chris Lines on 17 minutes. Morecambe went further behind on 52 minutes when Chris O’Grady headed in a second for Wednesday. However, the home team got back into the game just ten minutes later, when Laurence Wilson scored from the spot to bring the score to 2-1. Morecambe battled hard, but couldn’t force a second goal and so Wednesday progress to the 2nd Round for a home tie with the winners of the Maidenhead United/Aldershot replay.

2011/12: FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round

Saturday 29 October 2011 (10.30 am)

Circumstances mean that I’m not able to get to a game in the 4th (and last) Qualifying Round of the FA Cup today. What I hope is that I will get to one of the replays, so that my Cup adventure can continue. Consequently as I write I’m left pondering how the teams featured in my Cup journey (to date) will get on later this afternoon.

After their giant-killing victory at Hyde in the last round, Bradford Park Avenue, find themselves drawn away again and travel to Evo-Stik NPL Division One South, Kidsgrove Athletic. Whilst Avenue were being dumped out of the FA Trophy in midweek, Athletic secured a morale boosting 2-1 League win over Sutton Coldfield Town. Despite this, Bradford will fancy their chances against lower league opposition and I’m going for Avenue to advance after a replay.

FC Halifax Town are on their travels again for the 4th Qualifying Round and find themselves away at fellow Blue Square Bet (BSB) North side, Solihull Moors. Moors have been struggling at the wrong end of the table, but gained a morale boasting away win at Nuneaton last Saturday and followed it up with a midweek win over Gloucester. The Shaymen sit half way in the league in what has been a topsy-turvey season to date. The midweek win against Hyde was an excellent one, but Halifax have not been able to put together any kind of unbeaten run this year. On that basis, I’m going with Solihull to win this one in a close game.

Frickley Athletic’s conquerors, Gainsborough Trinity have an away trip to Blue Square Bet Premier side AFC Telford United. Trinity are going well in the BSB North as demonstrated by their midweek 6-1 demolition of Eastwood Town. With Telford at the wrong end of the table, I’m going for Trinity to come through after a replay. 


Sunday 30 October 2011 (11.30 am)

So should I give up the day job and turn to predicting scores for a living? First up Bradford Park Avenue. Yesterday, I said I fancied Avenue to go through after a replay. As it turned out, a brace from substitute Jimmy Beadle ensured that the Yorkshire side beat Kidsgrove at the first time of asking.

Secondly Halifax at Solihull. I predicted a close game with Moors to go through. The final score was indeed close, but the 1-0 win went to the Shaymen, through Danny Holland. Halifax could have won it by a larger margin, as they missed two penalties at Damson Park.

Finally I went for Gainsborough Trinity to come through after a replay. A complete disaster of a tip, as their opponents AFC Telford United swept to a 5-0 victory with goals from Pitt (9 & 64 mins), Killock (42 mins)and Sharp (52 & 71 mins).

Congratulations to all those teams who made it through to the FA Cup 1st Round draw today. Commiserations to those teams that I predicted to get through, but didn’t. Bookmakers can rest easy in their beds!

2011/12: FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round – Hyde v Bradford Park Avenue

Another weekend in October, more blue sky and another round of the FA Cup. For the first time in this seasons Cup adventure I’m leaving the confines of Yorkshire and am heading over The Pennines to Hyde FC. There is still a Yorkshire connection as Bradford Park Avenue are the visitors to Ewen Fields for this 3rd Qualifying Round tie.

Hyde currently sit top of the Blue Square Bet North Division having made an unbeaten ten game start to their League campaign. However, coming into this fixture, The Tigers have had a mixed bag of results in their last four games. In the Cheshire Senior Cup (Preliminary Round), Hyde lost 2-0 to Chester and drawn League fixtures against Eastwood Town and Nuneaton Town. In fact The Tigers only victory came in the last round of the FA Cup against Northern Counties East League side Staveley Miners Welfare.

Avenue whilst not boasting the unbeaten League start of Hyde, have had a good start to their League campaign and before kick-off sat in 5th postion in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League. Bradford came into the FA Cup at the 1st Qualifying Round stage and demolished Harrogate Railway Athletic 8-0. Avenue were drawn at home again in the 2nd Qualifying Round, winning 3-1 against Warrington Town.

Given Hyde’s League form, a home draw and their higher position in the football pyramid than Bradford, The Tigers are favourites to progress today.

As a train traveller, Ewen Fields is an easy ground to get to. For me it was a train across from Leeds to Manchester Piccadilly and then a local service out to Newton for Hyde. The ground is then a comfortable 10 minutes walk away. It is a stadium that has undergone change in recent years. In July 2010 Manchester City through their City in the Community (CITC) scheme became the club shirt sponsor and gave the ground a make-over. In simple terms, what was once red is now blue. This season Ewen Fields hosts the Manchester City Under 19’s team, who are taking part in the NextGen Series, a European wide competition which includes sides such as Ajax, Barcelona, Celtic, Inter Milan and Marseille.

The influence of Manchester City is certainly evident as you enter the ground, since the City crest is side by side with that of Hyde around various parts of the stadium. This ‘branding’ is extended to the advertising within the ground, as the roofs of the various stands are adorned with the logos of Manchester City’s sponsors and partners. Even the perimeter advertising is in the matching blue combination of the stands and again only carries details of the City’s sponsorship deals. For me whilst the ground is all very tidy, it is a bit clinical. Even the wonderful gables of the seated area and pyramid style floodlights seem swallowed in the corporate conversion that City put in place.

However, today isn’t about Manchester City, it is about Hyde and Bradford Park Avenue and their quest to continue their FA Cup journey. Avenue have brought a good following and the ‘Green Army’ is in full voice as the game kicks off. The opening ten minutes is played at a bit of a frantic pace with neither side settling and too often possession is easily given away. However, the game does settle down with the visitors more than holding their own. Much of the action is centred in midfield and clear cut chances are few and far between in the first half. Indeed Avenue have the best opportunity just before the break when Richard Marshall finds himself in on goal, but fires weakly at the keeper. Tiger’s manager Gary Lowe looks an agitated and frustrated figure during the opening half, and I’m sure he reads his team the riot act at half time.

Indeed, Hyde come out much more positive in the second half and leading scorer Scott Spencer threatens to add to his tally for the season on a couple of occasions. However, the tide turns fifteen minutes into the second half when Chris Worsley is sent off for a second bookable offence. Bradford grab the initiative and create a number of decent chances. The best of these falls to Avenue substitute Billy Law who finds himself one and one with home keeper David Carnell. The youngster rounds Carnell but his weak shot is cleared off the line by Adam Griffin. That looks to be it and a replay looms, when in the dying minutes, Carnell can only parry Law’s shot and Tom Greaves gleefully slams in the winner. There is no way back for the home team and at the final whistle, the visitors, players and fans, celebrate a genuine Cup upset.

For Bradford, the Cup draw awaits on Monday. As for Hyde, their recent stutter continues, but as the football cliché goes, they can now ‘concentrate on the League’.

Postscript: FC Halifax Town had a comfortable 3-0 win at the Giant Axe against Lancaster City with goals from Renshaw (3 mins), Garner (33 mins) and Gregory (85 mins). However, the victory was marred by crowd trouble which meant the game was held up for 25 minutes until order was restored. Frickley Athletic’s Cup run came to an end at Gainsborough Trinity, with two goals in a ten minute spell in the second half ensuring progress for Trinity.

2011/12: FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round – FC Halifax Town v Tadcaster Albion

Back in August I started my FA Cup adventure at Hemsworth Miners Welfare and their Preliminary Qualifying tie against Tadcaster Albion. Whilst in the next two rounds I was watching Garforth Town beat Sheffield FC and then lose to Frickley Athletic, Tadcaster progressed with victories over Pontefract Collieries and Scarborough Athletic. The draw for the 2nd Qualifying Round had Albion make the trip to The Shay Stadium to take on FC Halifax Town, so I decided to take up my Cup trail with The Brewers once more.

Along with Staveley Miners Welfare, Tadcaster Albion were the last of the (Baris) Northern Counties East League (NCEL) representatives in the Cup. In terms of League form, Albion lost their opening two fixtures, but have been unbeaten in their other five games to date. Their last League game saw three points snatched away in the dying minutes of the game as Parkgate scored to grab a 3-3 draw.

For The Shaymen, it has been a bit of a bumpy ride since their promotion to the (Blue Square) Conference North Division. On the opening day of the season Town suffered a 3-1 home loss to Corby Town and their last home fixture was an even more emphatic home defeat as they lost 5-1 to ten-man Vauxhall FC. However, in their last couple of fixtures Halifax have shown what they are capable of when coming back from 3-1 at half-time to beat Guiseley 4-3 at Nethermoor and then securing a 0-0 draw at Harrogate Town.

It was hard to believe as I entered the ground that it was the first day of October. With blue skies and high temperatures, the unseasonal weather gave the stadium a feel of a venue about to host a preseason friendly rather than a Cup tie. Indeed, despite a crowd of 1,002, there was very little atmosphere. This may have been due to the apprehension of the home crowd at the prospect of a giant-killing act by the visitors, combined with memories of the mauling by Vauxhall in the last fixture here.

Tadcaster were certainly not over-awed in the opening exchanges and as early as the third minute forced a good save from Town keeper Simon Eastwood. Halifax began to settle into the game as they dominated possession, however, this was not really turned into chances that worked Albion custodian Arran Reid apart from one excellent double-save from the young keeper. With frustration evident in the crowd as The Shaymen failed to break down the visitors, the home fans were stunned on the half hour mark when from an Albion corner was headed home by Carl Stewart to put Tadcaster ahead. The remainder of the half saw Halifax continue their domination of possession without really stretching The Brewers defence. Half-time came and Town returned to the dressing room with a real air of discontent amongst the Shay faithful.

Home manager Neil Aspin responded by replacing Anton Foster with Scott Hogan at the start of the second half as Town continued to toil away in the Yorkshire sun. Further substitutions came on the hour as James Dean replaced Danny Holland up front. However, the visitors looked relatively untroubled and with seventy five minutes gone, Aspin threw on recent signing Jason St Juste. His introduction gave Halifax a real threat of pace, but with ten minutes remaining it looked like the visitors would still hang on to their lead. Then on 81 minutes St Juste got down the wing and his cross was headed home by fellow substitute James Dean, which at last brought some noise from the home crowd. This changed the whole complexion of the game and suddenly the home players and fans could sense that perhaps a winner was still possible. However, as the ninety minutes ticked away the visitors had a good shout for a penalty turned down and it seemed that Albion had done enough to earn a replay. Four minutes of added time were indicated and these were all but up when Town were awarded a corner. From it Scott McManus headed home and cue celebrations from relieved home fans and bench. As the Albion plays slumped in exhaustion and disbelief, keeper Reid remonstrated with the Assistant referee, claiming that the corner award was incorrect, but merely earned a booking for his troubles. The Brewers kicked-off and launched one final ball into the Halifax penalty area, but it was game over and their brave Cup adventure was over.

It was a fantastic effort by Tadcaster and certainly Halifax knew that they had been in a game. Tadcaster have the FA Vase to look forward to in November and will relish it after their FA Cup campaign. For Halifax, they go into the draw for the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round on Monday (3rd October), knowing that it was a last gasp victory, but hoping that this might be the start of something special.

Postscript: At the Tech5 Stadium, Frickley Athletic were up against Harrogate Town. Visitors Town started brightly and took the lead through Will Turl. Frickley worked their way back into the game and just before half-time equalised through Grant Darley. The replay takes place at the CNG Stadium in Harrogate on Tuesday 4th October (kick-off 7.45pm).

2010/11: Pre-season – The Non-League Option

When I lived in London, I would regularly watch around 50 games a season. As well as watching my beloved Fulham, I spend many a Saturday at Plough Lane watching Wimbledon in the Southern League and Tooting & Mitcham in the Isthmian League. It was a chance to watch football without stress, it was cheaper and invariably had a sense of a greater belonging – a friendliness. That is not to say that the football was any less committed, that supporters were less fanatical or rivalries were less intense. I didn’t feel that I was being taken advantage of or being bombarded by advertising and merchandising. Many club officials and those working in the bars and refreshments areas were volunteers and so provided an honesty and integrity when attending the games. Two stand-out memories from those days occurred at Plough Lane and showed a career on the rise and one on the way down. In a London Senior Cup tie in 1978/79 season a 17 year old Dave Beasant played for Edgware Town against Wimbledon. He had a stormer of a game and was later signed up by the Dons on the way to a long and event filled career. A couple of years earlier, Geoff Hurst, cut a rather sad figure leading the forward line as player-manager of Telford United. Not a great memory of England’s 1966 hat-trick hero.

Since coming North I still get around the Non-League circuit and I’ll add a new ground to those visited tonight when Wakefield host a Leeds United XI. Yorkshire is blessed with a full range of clubs up and down the Non-League ladder. In the Conference Premier, York City are the flag bearers for the White Rose County, whilst a division below Guiseley and Harrogate Town look to continue their progress through the Leagues. FC Halifax Town, Bradford Park Avenue, Ossett Albion, Ossett Town, Harrogate Railway, Garforth Town, Yorkshire Amatuer – are all clubs in Yorkshire who would welcome extra spectators to their clubs. A special mention for Farsley AFC (previously Farsley Celtic) who have emerged from their troubles and start life again this season. Sky would have us believe that football doesn’t exist outside of the Premier League. Many fans know this isn’t true. The fact is football exists outside of the 92 clubs as well. If you are looking for a different experience and  when your team are away and you can’t get tickets, why not get along to a Non-League game?