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.

Website: fchalifaxtown.com

2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 27 (Game 28) – Thursday 12 March 2020: Pontefract Collieries v Droylsden

What did they used to say about Arsenal under Arsene Wenger? Something like – they don’t fancy it much on a wet and windy Wednesday night at Stoke City. Well goodness knows then what they would make of storm conditions on a Thursday night in Pontefract.

Matchday programme cover

Little was I to know that this would be my final game of the season, Pontefract Collieries versus Droylsden in the BetVictor Northern Premier League, and tonight I was afforded VIP treatment with a couple of free coffees and access to the warm club room. It was good that my last game of the season was with Paul too as he had reignited my journey following my dip in mood over the Christmas period, but he was here in an official capacity hence my access to club room.

Pontefract Collieries origins are a little sketchy to say the least. A team called Tanshelf Gems acquired the Ackworth Road ground and renamed themselves Pontefract United. Pontefract Collieries became United’s local rivals shortly after the Second World War, but by the 1960s Collieries had disappeared and the name was adopted by a local youth side which merged with United and adopted the Collieries name.

This season, we have been to some wet games before tonight, namely at FC Halifax Town and FC United of Manchester, but this was a different level and there were doubts whether the game would go ahead. We got the nod, one of the only games that took place that night. Whilst most of those games were postponed due to the wet weather, others had gone the same way due to concerns about COVID-19. Little did we know that night what was to follow.

Down-pour at kick-off

For kick-off we took our place in the main seated stand, and I learnt that the seats had been obtained from Manchester City when the Maine Road ground was demolished. At the whistle to start the game, another burst of rain hammered down. Ponte were in the Play-Off positions and dominated from the off, going ahead within the opening quarter of an hour. Droylsden (nicknamed The Bloods, due to their early red playing kits) lost possession in midfield, with the ball eventually falling for Michael Dunn who slotted home from six-yards out. Droylsden though undaunted created chances to level the game, Jackson Hulme having his shot tipped over the bar by Colls ‘keeper Seb Malkowski and he was called into action again to thwart Travis Boyle who was put through on goal. Ponte made their visitors pay though just after the half-hour. Dunn was brought and Connor Smyth did the rest from the penalty spot. Then just seven minutes later, it was 3-0, when Joe Lumsden headed in from a corner. At the half-time whistle we were glad to get into the club room and warm-up with a hot coffee as officials from both clubs mulled over the first forty-five minutes.

Second-half. View towards main stand.

For the second-half, Paul and I changed our watching position, going behind the goal under the covered terracing, chatting with the Droylsden Club Officials. With a gale blowing, The Bloods played into the wind and barely got out of their half, as wave after wave of Ponte attacks came. But for Elliot Wynne in goal for the visitors it could easily have been eight or nine, as he made some superb saves. Brad Dockerty did get a fourth for Ponte on sixty-four minutes, but they couldn’t add any more as Wynne continued to make saves and the home side wasted a number of other opportunities. The Colls were worthy winners, on a night that despite the conditions provided good entertainment for the 123 hardy souls who attended.

 

Thursday 12 March 2020

Bet Victor Northern North West Division

Pontefract Collieries 4 (Dunn 14’, Smythe 31’ pen, Lumsden 38’. Dockerty 64’) Droylsden 0

Venue: The Football Family Stadium

Attendance: 123

Pontefract Collieries: Malkowski, Greenhough (Williams), Smythe, Picton, Clarke (Rothery), Ible, Broadhead, Cromack, Dockerty, Lumsden, Dunn (Starcenko)

Unused substitutes: Retford, Baxendale.

Droylsden: Wynne, Antoine-Clark (Wych), Lattie, Rooney, Coveney, Hulme, Bianga, Smith, O’Neill (Diakite), Boyles (Wright)

Unused substitutes:: Holford, Wolland.

 

Steve Blighton

2012/13: (Carlsberg) FA Vase – Second Qualifying Round: Pontefract Collieries v Cheadle Town

September seems to be saving its most sunny days for FA Vase weekends, as the third Saturday of the month is bright and warm for the Second Qualifying Round games. I’m spoilt for choice today and amongst the ties I consider attending include Silsden AFC v Northallerton Town, Nostell MW v AFC Blackpool, Pontefract Collieries v Cheadle Town, Selby Town v Formby and Yorkshire Amateurs v South Shields. I decide to make my game choice once I get into Leeds City Railway station.

Down the years travelling to a game has been as much part of the day as the actual ninety minutes itself. Travelling by car up and down the motorways was always an interesting event as you looked out for other fans heading off to watch their respective teams. These days my journeys are confined to trains, but is no less of an opportunity for fan “spotting”. As I wait for the train into Leeds from Cross Gates, on the opposite platform a Hull City fan, resplendent in amber and black stripped shirt, is about to board the Selby service and his journey on to see The Tigers take on The Lions of Millwall. As my train pulls in, I spot a Barnsley fan studying the sports pages of a tabloid, his red hat struggling to contain his mass of black curly hair. Once on board I check my iphone and receive a message on Facebook from an old school friend and fellow Fulham fan. He asks how I think the game will go today as he will watching it live on television in Canada later. I pessimistically  predict a 2-0 win for WBA.

The train now draws into Leeds and it is decision time. Without any apparent reason, I opt for a trip to Pontefract and so head for the Nottingham train as I need to get to Wakefield Kirkgate to make the connecting train to Pontefract Tanshelf station. Having bought a ticket, I make my way to the platform where a dozen or so Blackpool fans are gathered as the Nottingham service stops at Barnsley, where The Tangerines take on The Reds. It’s a fifteen minute journey to Wakefield, so time for some music and  80’s nostalgia from one of my favourite albums, The Icicle Works. I’m still listening as I change trains to Pontefract and the final leg of the journey.

Welcome to Pontefract Collieries

Once off the train it is a very short walk to the ground of about a quarter of a mile, with the ground at the end of Beechnut Lane. Pontefract Collieries are a relatively young club having been founded in 1958 (as their club badge proudly states), although football has been played in the town as far back at the 1890’s. The Colls were one of the founder member clubs of the Northern Counties East League (NCEL) which was founded in 1982/83 and currently play in Division One. Their opponents today, Cheadle Town are also a young club having been founded in 1961. Town play in the North West Counties League (NWCL) in Division One, having joined in 1983/84. These two teams are at a comparable level in the Football Pyramid structure, so on paper at least there is no gulf in levels.

September started brightly for Pontefract as after successive home wins against Clipstone Welfare and Worsborough Bridge Athletic, they moved into second place in the table. However, their next two fixtures (both at home) were lost 2-1 to Hallam FC and Bottesford United and meant The Colls were coming into this game having had their confidence severely knocked. Cheadle Town have no such worries and come into this game on the back of a three game winning streak in September. Town began the month by beating West Didsbury & Chorlton 3-1 in the FA Vase First Qualifying Round and followed this up with League victories over Northwich Villa (2-1) and Leek CSOB (5-3). Would Pontefract return to winning ways or would Cheadle continue their unbeaten run?

Main stand

In the early stages of the game, The Colls looked low on confidence as Cheadle made the brighter start of the teams. The first chance of the game fell to the visitors as Pontefract stood off Town number seven Arron Carroll to allow a strike on goal that went wide. Cheadle were dominating the space in midfield with Josh Taylor looking to get the ball to the dangerous Alex Monde-Leke. Pontefract did create an early chance of their own, when James Hicks headed over. However, it was the visitors who were more threatening and on twenty minutes from a free-kick, an unmarked Monde-Leke headed wastefully over. Therefore it was no surprise that Cheadle took the lead on the half-hour mark. Josh Taylor had time and space on the ball on the edge of the Pontefract box and was able to slot in with Simon Kemp in goal rooted to the spot. Worse was to follow on forty one minutes when in an almost similar situation to the opening goal, Monde-Leke was the player this time unchallenged as he shot past the static Kemp into the corner of the net to double the Cheadle lead. There was much frustration in the playing ranks of the home team as the second goal brought a very heated and public exchange between Craig Robinson and Rob Oldham. The home support too were demonstrating their frustration with the match officials who they believed were favouring the visitors with any 50/50 decisions.

Pontefract captain, Dean Twibey

At the half-time break the players left the pitch to almost silence from the home support. It would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall in the Pontefract dressing room during the team talk given by Colls manager Brendan Ormsby. He acted by substituting Robinson and Oldham who had clashed late on in the first-half, with Liam Ormsby and Will Ramsay. However, these changes did little to spark a revival from Pontefract as the visitors held on comfortably to their lead in the opening fifteen minutes of the second-half. Indeed Cheadle were still creating chances and although Alex Monde-Leke was not as threatening as he had been in the opening half, on sixty seven minutes, he was allowed to drift across the home defence and slipped in a shot to put the visitors 3-0 ahead. To their credit Pontefract didn’t give in and did create chances as the game drifted into the last quarter. They seemed mightily unlucky to have a header from Will Ramsay ruled out for offside, and skipper Dean Twibey had an excellent chance but fired wide with a volley. On another day, when things are going your way, these opportunities go for you. However, Pontefract did grab a consolation goal in time added-on, when the tireless James Hicks finished well past the advancing Cheadle keeper to make the score 3-1. Even the most die-hard Pontefract fan would have admitted that the better team had won, but it will be a worry that they have lost three home games on the bounce. Brendan Ormsby has to galvanise his squad now for three consecutive away trips (Louth Town, Appleby Frodingham and Albion Sports) and get The Colls back on track. For Cheadle their unbeaten run continues and advance to the FA Vase First Round Proper with a home tie against Wigan Robin Park.

On the return journey it dawned on me that the first two games I had seen in this FA Vase this season had followed an identical pattern. In both games the visitors had established a 2-0 half-time lead, gone on to lead 3-0 in the second-half before the home team got a late consolation goal to leave the final result 3-1. Incredibly the second and third goals in both games were also scored in identical minutes (41 and 67). I could be an unwelcome visitor to a ground in the First Round. You have been warned…!