Tom Scargill discusses the Shaymen
I work on news and FC Halifax Town for the Halifax Courier, starting on the paper at the beginning of 2013. It’s not without its stresses but it’s a great job to be able to cover a football team home and away, especially for my home town paper. There never seems to be a dull moment covering The Shaymen, which was epitomised by one of their players appearing on Love Island recently!
Not great. It began shortly after the end of last season when manager Pete Wild left to join Barrow, and then the exodus of players began – Tyrell Warren and Billy Waters to Barrow, Niall Maher and Kieran Green to Grimsby, Tom Bradbury to Cheltenham and Jamie Allen to Love Island! Assistant manager Chris Millington took over and has made some strong signings but it remains to be seen whether they can emulate what was a fantastic campaign last season.
Halifax born Tom Clarke is the new captain, having signed from League One Fleetwood, where he made 35 appearances last season. He will bring huge experience and leadership. Mani Dierseruvwe starts the season as the team’s main striker, having helped Grimsby to promotion on loan last season. Winger Sam Smart joined from Eastleigh. Most of the others are from Stockport! Sam Minihan, Jordan Keane, Jamie Stott, Festus Arthur and Milli Alli have all been signed from Stockport or played for them recently.
Tom Clarke immediately strikes you as a crucial player, not just for his off the field qualities but his quality on the pitch. He should be a calm, cool presence at the back who reads the game really well. As always Sam Johnson will need to have a strong season in goal, but he always does. Former Torquay man Billy Waters scored 20 goals for Town last season so it’s up to Mani Dierseruvwe to try and get as close as he can to that total. Matty Warburton had a brilliant season last year in the number ten role, and he will be pivotal in terms of goals, linking play and creativity.
EXPECTATIONS FOR 22/23
There was a special chemistry at the club under Wild that peaked last season, a collective spirit with some superb quality sprinkled on top, as evidenced by the fact so many of those players are now in the Football League. It’s that blend of quality and team spirit that Millington needs to recreate – not an easy task. I’d like to think they’ll make the play-offs but I think another 4th placed finish could be too much to ask.
The beauty of appointing Millington is there was no settling in period, he knows the club, the staff and the remaining players, so that’s been a fairly smooth process. He’ll continue the 4-3-3, or a variation of it, that Wild used, and wants Town to be a possession based side, comfortable on the ball and one that plays attacking football.
4-3-3 – Johnson, Minihan, Clarke, Debrah, Senior, Keane, Warburton, Gilmour, Smart, Dierseruvwe, Slew.
It was a complete anti-climax to be honest, Barnet were the better team, played with hunger and aggression, two of the many things Halifax lacked. Barnet scored early after some good pressure from the off. Town gradually worked their way back into the game but then Stott was sent off for a second yellow on his debut and then Barnet’s second goal ended it as a contest fairly late on.
I think whoever finishes above Wrexham will win the league! I can’t see anyone challenging them to be honest. Below them you’d have to fancy Chesterfield, Notts County, Solihull and Boreham Wood to make the play-offs, all look very strong. Then the last two play-off spots would in theory be very open with several teams, including Halifax and Torquay, in with a chance.
I’ll say 2-1 Halifax.