FC – 1
Conference North – 23rd August 2011
I like Halifax. There, I said it.
The reformed FC Halifax Town and Colwyn Bay have a very similar recent history. When Halifax reformed in the Evostik League Division 1 North, they were expected to walk the league, as such half of the Bay turned out to the away fixture in early March that year to see the Seagulls play in a former football league stadium. I remember the day well – Halifax away was my birthday treat and we rocked up early afternoon in the Three Pigeons pub just outside the ground, songs were sung, a game was watched (a battling 1-1 draw) and then a night out was had in Bradford which consisted of a curry and an obscene amount of alcohol. We thought it was a one off as Colwyn Bay didn’t get promoted that year. We were wrong, as neither did Halifax.
The year after, both Colwyn Bay & Halifax got promoted, with the same two teams meeting achieving the same success the following year (read about Colwyn Bay’s 2011 promotion push here). With the game at the The Shay Stadium on August 23rd the seventh between the two sides, there was an air of familiarity in the air as I left work early to go to Halifax.
It was an air of refreshing familiarity when I arrived at Halifax – I hadn’t been for 3 years, yet it all seem familiar. Smaller – like the incredible shrinking Christmas trees you experience growing up – yet familiar. The mile long trek to the Three Pigeons was actually a 5 minute walk, and the extortionate £2.40 of three years ago was now a damn cheap £2.40. Job changes and a pay rises are wonderful things.
Familiar faces were still there, having a few beers before the game, and after sharing a laugh and a joke, we headed to the ground to watch the game.
The ground had changed. The stand we were in (the south stand that dominated one of the wings) wasn’t built the last time I was at the ground, instead the fans mingled in one of the terraces at the far side of the ground. This time however, not only were we in the ground, but there was also segregation. An understandable policy, due to the trouble in the previous home game that was between Halifax and Corby, but a foolish one when you consider that a) the fans mingled freely before and after the game and b) Only about 30 Bay fans made the long Tuesday night trip.
Before the game I purchased a “Meat and Potato Pie”. The server apologised, saying they only had steak pies, and would I mind. I didn’t mind one bit. With the Meat and Potato pie being a uniform Holland pie, the Steak pie was a gargantuan pie, that was half the size of the notebook I’m writing this on, with thick juicy pieces of steak, real gravy and a smidgen of vegetable just to keep it healthy. A surprising effort given the size of the catering operation that had to take place that day.
The game kicked off and Colwyn Bay started brightly, pressing Halifax back for the first 10 minutes or so. Halifax began to push back, and get a few chances of their own, but Bay played counter attacking football and got the break 20 minutes in. With a great cross to the far post by Lee Davey, Rob Hopley was fouled in the box, leading to a Colwyn Bay penalty. Jon Newby stepped up and slotted the ball into the bottom left hand corner, beating the keeper who dived the right way. Halifax 0 – 1 Colwyn Bay. This eventually brought Halifax to life, and for the rest of the first half they dominated possession.
One unfortunate incident for the Bay was that Rob Hopley got injured in an off the ball incident, that seemed like either his knee or his ankle. The target man for the bay had to be carried off. Gareth Evans replaced him to add a bit of height to the front line. Halifax finished the half brighter, but didn’t convert any of the half chances they had. Half time score FC Halifax 0 – 1 Colwyn Bay.
I went to the concession stand for some more food, sidestepping the beer for a cup of tea (it was a school night). The food consisted of a burger that had been wrapped in a foil lined paper bag. Whilst the burger itself was fine, the foil bag meant the bun got steamed, leaving a soggy bread. It’s unfortunate, as the burger was every bit as poor as the pie was wonderful.
Second half begun and Halifax pressed for an early goal. Despite early pressure, they were unable to convert, but the pressure resulted in the home fans finding their voice, and getting behind the side. The 1350 home fans obviously had an effect, as Colwyn Bay invited pressure onto them, conceding numerous corners. Halifax hit the bar before the moment that Halifax had been searching for came.
For those non Shaymen in the Conference North – “That Ruddy” Jamie Vardy has been approached by numerous league clubs asking for him to sign for them. Halifax have stood firm, putting a large £90,000 (I believe) release clause in his contract. This clause wasn’t met by the most high profile bid – Jamie Vardy has now moved to Fleetwood Town). On the 68th minute, it was clear why. He took the ball on the right wing, cut inside and shot first time past an outstretched Chris Sanna into the corner of the net. Halifax had the equiliser they deserved, in all honesty., but a fair few scouts have been sniffing around The Shay enquiring about his services (editors note, in the time between me writing this article and me publishing it,
At this point, the game opened up, with both sides having decent chances to win the game. Nothing came though, and the referee (who wasn’t the best by any stretch of the imagination) blew up. Final score: FC Halifax 1 – 1 Colwyn Bay.
If I was to be unbelievably biased, I’d say a battling Bay performance only spoilt by a goal of sheer genius. If I was pessimistic, I’d say we were lucky. I’m neither of those things, so I’d say Colwyn Bay had a game plan, stuck to it, and came away with a point they wanted. The game was marred by bad officiating, but in the end, the two clubs who seemed to be on a meteoric rise through the leagues the last few seasons shared the honours at the Shay. It’s great for me, for two reasons. First it’s a great result for Colwyn Bay, and the second reason?
I still like Halifax.