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

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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