FC Halifax Town: Loanee Sam is glad to be back at The Shay

Halifax v Darlington. Sam Johnson
Halifax v Darlington. Sam Johnson

Sam Johnson is glad to be back at The Shay after a frustrating spell on the sidelines at Gateshead.

The Port Vale loanee is at Halifax until the end of the season and will replace the injured Steve Drench, who is out for at least a month with a hamstring injury.

The keeper started the first 10 games of the season under Neil Aspin at Gateshead, but had not played since September 13 before appearing for Town at home to Darlington on New Year’s Day, having only rejoined The Shaymen that morning.

“I don’t know the logistics of how it worked,” he said. “I just knew it was likely to go through at lunchtime on the day.

“I was on the bench for Gateshead the day before but I’ve just got on with it. I take things like that in my stride.

“The main thing for me is to progress as a player. I want to learn my trade and playing games is the only way you can do that really.

“Me and Steve might be pushing each other for that number one jersey but that’ll probably bring the best out of us.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Johnson joined Gateshead on a season-long loan last summer, but ended the deal after a discussion with former Town boss Aspin.

“It just wasn’t working at Gateshead and I got the call to come here,” Johnson said.

“I thought I’d be better playing games here than doing nothing.

“All I want to do is just play games so I jumped at the chance.

“I knew I had a good chance of playing there, and I did start the season in goal, but for different reasons I wasn’t playing before I left.

“I had a word with Neil about it and we parted company.”

Johnson played 32 games for Town last season, including their historic FA Trophy final triumph over Grimsby at Wembley.

“It was a great day,” he recalled. “It’s still a strong memory for me.

“It was unbelievable when you think back.

“I can’t actually remember much about the game, it’s a bit of a blur.

“If I try and think back about what happened in the game I can’t really, other than the goal.

“The odds were against us but I suppose we like being the underdogs here don’t we!

“It all worked out well in the end. It’s definitely in the top three best days of my career.”

The squad has changed almost beyond recognition since Johnson’s first spell at the club, with the keeper one of only seven players from the 16-man FA Trophy final squad still at the club.

“I know a couple of players still, and I’ll be driving in with Richard Peniket to training,” Johnson added.

“It is a different set of lads but I thought they played alright on New Year’s Day, and they seem like a good bunch.

“There’s probably still some improvements that we can make as a group but that’s an ongoing process.

“I’m just looking forward to playing here again.”