FC Halifax Town: The devil is in the detail for Shaymen’s chief scout

Luke Fogarty (left) on a scouting mission at Fylde

Luke Fogarty (left) on a scouting mission at Fylde

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If an opposition player has a weak left foot or a tendency to lose concentration, Halifax’s chief scout Luke Fogarty will know about it.

It’s Fogarty’s job to asses Town’s upcoming opponents for manager Billy Heath as well as keep tabs on potential new signings.

The scout combines his role with work as a lorry driver having served in the army for 15 years and worked as a prison officer for 10 years.

His father Alan was chief scout for Wimbledon during their glory years and later for Northern Ireland.

Fogarty would attend matches with his dad before eventually becoming chief scout at Leamington FC prior to joining Heath at North Ferriby in 2015.

“I work Monday, Thursday and Friday driving a lorry, and the other days I work for Halifax.

“On Tuesday I’ll be typing up a report from the weekend, so this week it’s been on Boston.

“Then I might go to a game on Wednesday. Billy likes to have reports before Thursday so he can take them to training. They’ll include analysis of the opposition, pen pics of all their players, what they do at set-pieces, strengths and weaknesses, diagrams. It takes about four-and-a-half hours to write, and that will all go on a word document and be emailed to Bill.

“On Saturdays I’ll go to a game and on Sundays I’ll be preparing my report.

“I could do a fantastic report but then that team could lose four players to injury before they play us or set up completely differently, so I have to keep an eye out for things like that after I submit the report.

“It’s also how Billy uses the information I give him and how he puts it across to the players. He might speak to them individually about a right-winger who cuts in on his left foot or a left-winger who gets shoved off the ball easily. It’s about little margins that can make all the difference.”

Fogarty says a potential signing needs to be seen at least twice by two different observers before any decision is made.

“My primary purpose it watching the opposition and I’ll fit in watching players around that.

“Steve Marsella, who works with the youth team, watches a lot of players for us, so I’ll share that workload with him.

“He’ll go and look at a player initially, and if he’s worth another look, I might go and then Billy might go after that. We usually watch a player two or three times with two different sets of eyes before making a decision.

“I saw Matty Kosylo play a couple of times for Nantwich and he was poor. Then I watched the video of the FA Trophy semi-final against Halifax and I thought ‘is this the same player?’”

On the signing of Adam Morgan, Fogarty said: “I became aware of Adam Morgan about three weeks before the FA Cup game against Wimbledon. We were looking for a forward who could offer something a bit different. We wanted a finisher as well. I went to watch him twice on my own and said to Billy he had to come and watch him because of his movement and his technique. We watched him against Worcester and we were convinced we wanted to sign him, then he goes and scores a hat-trick in the cup and we thought our chance had gone.”

Fogarty defended the influx of North Ferriby players to The Shay last summer, with seven players moving from Humberside to Halifax.

“North Ferriby was like a band of brothers We knew them and we knew they were reliable,” he said.

“I was heavily involved in the recruitment this summer. It’s a different game entirely from North Ferriby to Halifax - you’re shopping at the top table rather than in the basement bin.

“With Halifax you’re asking are they hungry enough, can they handle playing for Halifax? That’s taken some getting used to because Halifax is a level up from Ferriby. But the recruitment was good.

“What people have to realise is that what Ferriby achieved last season was against the odds. To win promotion was a fantastic effort from Billy and the players. The togetherness was great, Billy has always had a good dressing room wherever he’s been, so he wanted to replicate that at Halifax, and he has.

“But every manager will bring his trusted lieutenants with him wherever he goes.

We needed a left-back with Scott McManus being injured, and we wanted Tom Denton and Liam King after they both got double figures.

“Nathan Hotte can play in three or four different positions, and you need players like that if you’re going to be successful.

“But we also signed Cliff Moyo, Scott Garner and Jordan Sinnott so it wasn’t just North Ferriby players.”

Fogarty says the profession has changed in recent years with advances in technology and more rigorous scouting of players.

“You have access to a lot more games now on YouTube and it’s easier to get information about teams and players,” he said.

“But the information I provide has to be relevant to how we play as a team.

“The traffic has got worse over the years! I’d say the league is a lot more intense now - there are more full-time teams and there’s more money in the league.

“There’s no secrets anymore either - it’s like with Josh Macdonald earlier this season, he had 10 or 12 scouts coming to watch him, and there’s nothing you can do about that,

“Scouts talk - I know all the scouts in this league. I might ring up people and say ‘I’m looking for this type of player, do you know anyone available’ or they might ring me and ask.

“We keep lists of players in each position - everybody does that.

“So if Billy tells me he wants, for example, a right-back, I have a list I can refer to.

“At North Ferriby we would usually end up with the third or fourth target because of the financial constraints but its different at Halifax - they want to play for Billy because he’s been successful and they want to play for Halifax and play at The Shay.”