The National League is associated with a slog of a season and the unglamorous side of football because of the inherent difficulty in getting out of it and the danger in getting stuck down there as clubs like Wrexham and Stockport County have done over the last few years.
However, burrowed away at the Shay stadium in West Yorkshire, FC Halifax Town are sat in 6th place and are quietly looking to solidify a place in the play offs and then possibly a trip to Wembley, whereby they could earn themselves a place in League Two.
They are under the management and tutelage of Pete Wild, a man that rejected Bradford City to stay with the Shaymen, a testament to his loyalty to the club and the project.
Their success and exceeding of expectations has largely gone unreported because unlike clubs such as Stockport County and Wrexham, they have not spent large sums of money in their quest for promotion and their squad isn’t littered with instantly recognizable players.
Instead, through being 6th in the league, they have offered and shown that there is an alternative method, and this will inspire other clubs of a similar size to Halifax. This is refreshing for the league and means that it has retained the soul and nuance that makes it such an interesting, well-followed and appealing league to so many people in England.
Furthermore, this achieving of heady heights is not done without the concocting and creation of a great team spirit and close bond in all areas at the club. Pete Wild on the fact that his team played the second half with 10 men, said, “It showed the guts we have in this team”.
The act of going to Meadow Lane, a cavernous and arguably intimidating place, and holding on for a draw with ten men shows that Halifax appear not to be intimidated by the bigger clubs and that a belief in themselves in inherent within the squad and the club.
This is shown by the fact that at the Shay, a traditional ground with terracing at both ends of the ground, they have beaten Stockport, 3-0, Notts County 3-2, and Grimsby 1-0, all clubs that have been in the Football League, not a place this current iteration have been to.
Perhaps the newness of this experience is what is spurring the Shaymen on. The ability to create memories on a sunny day at Wembley in May would be enticing for anyone.
However, Wild is not getting carried away as he stated, “I’m sure the fans have heard me say that I want to get to 60 points before 30 matches and project 60 is still there to achieve”. This is an indication of the measured approach requisite for a manager in Wild’s position.
But the supporters of FC Halifax Town are more than entitled to be getting away after Halifax Town AFC’s administration that meant this new form had to play in the Northern Premier League and the Conference North between the years of 2008 and 2013.
Furthermore, the withdrawal of supporters from grounds because of the pandemic means that supporters are allowed to be headier and cavalier in their hopes and beliefs. With Barnet, Weymouth, and Dover as their next three games, the fans will see those games as an opportunity to record maximum and therefore put pressure on those above them.
It is an exciting time to be a Halifax fan and shows the virtue of guts, togetherness, and passion. These values are sometimes lost in football, arguably by the acceleration of the Premier League but non-league has shown the light and has provided a different option.
Football is about hope and belief in arguably the unexpected; FC Halifax Town are the epitome of that.