Some clubs we’ve come up against over the years find themselves on a proper rollercoaster ride; glorious highs and heartbreaking lows. We suppose it helps to keep things interesting, but that’s not good for the heart? In some cases, however, such rides can come to an abrupt end. And that is what happened to Halifax Town; going out of business in 2008 only 10 years after a Conference title win took them back into the Football League after a five-year absence.
The problem is they couldn’t make good on that opportunity. And it’s why we ended up playing them a good few times across two separate spells in the 1990s and 2000s – as we’ll now explore.
Who are Halifax Town Football Club?
There’s no shortage of football clubs in the West Yorkshire region. Leeds United, Bradford City, and Huddersfield Town spring to mind immediately. And you could stray a little further into east Lancashire or other parts of Yorkshire and find other teams jostling for support. It isn’t much of a shock, however. A lot of people live in the mill towns and cities all along the M62 corridor. And, in 1911, there was easily room for one more: Halifax Town.
Just 10 years after forming, the Shaymen landed a spot in the Football League; one of the founder members of Division Three North. True to the rollercoaster analogy, they had their ups and their downs over the years. The 1934-5 season saw them end up a close second behind Donny. For the most part, however, the club’s finishing position would be in double figures. And if relegation from the League had been a thing, it may have been so different.
A relatively good 1957-8 season worked in their favour when the Shaymen were placed in Division Three on reorganisation. The club were relegated a few years later, but did make a return to the third tier in 1969. It came close to being so much better too as they finished third in 1971; missing out on promotion to Division Two by four points. After that, however, the trend is a downwards one. And it starts with relegation back to Division Four in 1977.
Why do we know the Shaymen?
Back in the basement division, the Shaymen were more often than not found languishing in the bottom four. And, as relegation from the Football League started become a thing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this wasn’t the safest place to be hanging around. It’s not too much of a shock, then, that it’d catch up with them; falling into non-league for the first time in 70 years after propping up Division Three come the end of the 1993-4 season.
One year later, Boro’ joined them in the GM Vauxhall Conference.
What is our record against them?
The 1994-5 campaign is the first of two spells when we came up against the Shaymen. It came at a time when the West Yorkshire side were struggling off the pitch. And that’s why life in the Conference didn’t seem to be any easier than where they’d come from. This let us make the early running in our head-to-head too; Boro’ winning the first five meetings.
It includes a thumping 6-0 win on the first day of the 1996-7 campaign; Boro’ starting our title defence in style. At some point during that season, however, a switch flicked and the balance of power started to shift. We don’t know when. We just know it happened.
And all we do know is that Boro’s title defence was already over by the final day. But the Shaymen needed three points to avoid another relegation.
They got it, winning 4-2 at The Shay and sparking scenes. For them, not us.
It marked a bigger shift in our relationship too. The following campaign saw us struggle in the Conference. The Shaymen, however, came from nowhere to win the title; returning to the Football League just one season after it seemed they’d be moving further away. That included two more victories over us – including a humbling 4-0 win at their place.
Halifax Town: Boro’s Record
Our head-to-head: P 20 — W 10 — D 1 — L 9 — F 31 — A 27 — Pts 31 — WR 50%
Our last tango: Halifax Town 1-2 Stevenage Borough, 26 April 2008
What happened to them?
After an encouraging first season back in Division Three, the up turned into a down again. Three seasons on, the Shaymen were coming back down into the Conference. Not that it stopped them from picking up where they’d left off in 1998; winning three on the spin and extending their overall triumphant run to six matches spread across six years.
For the next few seasons, the era of one-way traffic was at an end for both of us. Actually, we went through a little run where we won at home and lost away. There was even a rare draw between us in April 2006.
Our 2-1 defeat at their place in April 2007 proved costly, however. It wasn’t the sole reason we missed the playoffs. But the three points did them the world of good in securing them a place in the end-of-season promotion ding-dong.
Of course, it didn’t pan out for them. After seeing off Grays Athletic, the Shaymen narrowly missed out on another return to the Football League; losing 3-2 to Hereford United in the final – despite leading 2-1 with 10 minutes to go. So, we’d meet once more in the 2007-8 season (well, twice more). In a flip-reverse situation, Boro’ were rocked by three goals in six minutes and lost 3-2 at home. We did, however, return the away favour on the last day.
And it very much was the last day.
Cash issues forced the Shaymen into administration in March 2008. Obviously, they were docked 10 points. But it didn’t relegate them (despite losing to us). What would send them down was the failure to get a CVA and come out of administration. And even worse was to follow when it emerged the club had debts of around £2m. It was all too much to take and the rollercoaster finally came to a stop; a new club coming to life to replace the old one.
• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Halifax Town club profile