Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Magic Shaymen Go Top

Sponsors and their guests herded to the centre for our adulation

Hopperational details
Tuesday 19 October 2010 at The Shay, FC Halifax Town 1 Bradford PA 0 in the Northern Premier League (Step 3).  I am here because a shuffled iPod came up with The Beatles.
This match in one sentence
Bradford PA had one good chance in each half and squandered them both, but the game was on a knife-edge to the end as Halifax took only one of many.
So what?
FC Halifax Town go back to the top of the table, and Bradford PA stay in fifth place.  Local bragging rights stay rightly with the Shaymen after this result and performance which was watched by a crowd of 2,011.
Who caught the eye on the pitch?
One of the many banners on display proclaimed “James Dean Goal Machine” and I was already thinking up potential captions like “East of Todmorden” in anticipation.  Sadly, he had a shocker in this observer’s humble opinion.  Though undoubtedly a physical threat and nuisance up front, he badly mishit two great shooting chances and missed another close-range opportunity. “Rebel Without a Goal” this time, then.

My man-of-the-match was Halifax winger Jamie Vardy, and the sponsors agreed.  His burst of pace and pinpoint cross set up the crucial goal on a proverbial plate for Danny Holland after 15 minutes.  He delivered time and time again, and the only blot on his performance was that he missed the target from a one-on-one break.  Two crucial goal-line clearances (both, I believe, by Liam Hogan) were just as important in securing this win.  Halifax deserved the points, no doubt about it, but they should have won by a bigger margin.
This match had the same effect on my pulse rate as …
… worrying about how many mothballs it will take to mothball an aircraft carrier, and how many moths are going to die if someone leaves a light on.
A snippet from the programme
The price - £3 !!  To be fair, it is a very professionally produced effort with seventeen substantial articles of interest, except for an awful match report error which describes a 4-0 win over Harrogate Town while forgetting to change the banner heading from the previous week’s 4-0 victory over Hucknall Town.

There is a nice page of “derby memories” contributed by the Halifax team.  Manager Neil Aspin says that, “The first time he played in a Potteries derby was when the two teams (Stoke City and Port Vale) hadn’t played each other for over 60 years. That was at the Victoria Ground… a complete sell-out with over 30,000 people in attendance.  It was a fantastic atmosphere.”  However, both James Riley and Richard Marshall choose the Harrogate Town v Harrogate Railway experience.  James says, “The two Harrogate clubs really do not get on”.  Richard, who played for both, confirms this.  “They are always heated occasions when you play another local team”, he says.
What I learned today
The Shay is probably looking better than it did in The Beatles’ heyday.  Knowing that FC Halifax Town had only been in existence for a couple of years in their present form, only returning to Step 3 this year after two seasons in Step 4, I expected the ground to be looking a lot worse.  Halifax Town had folded at the end of 2007-8 and lost their appeal against demotion from Conference level football.

The club has shared with the town’s rugby league team for over a decade but there were no issues with the playing surface.  Two of the four stands were open, offering a choice between seating and standing (I spent a half in each).  This did not feel like a step 3 encounter and Halifax are clearly eyeing a second successive promotion.  I wouldn’t bet against them on what I saw here.

What Next?
Bedfont Town v Hitchin Town this evening!  The home side, in last season’s incarnation as Bedfont Green, had been sharing with Windsor & Eton of late, so they need to be re-visited under my ‘hopping rules.  As a resident of the Hitchin area, I will be looking for a handsome win from the table-topping Canaries.

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