Coach’s exit ups the ante

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HALIFAX’S preparations for tomorrow’s crucial Co-operative Championship clash with York at the Shay appear to be in tatters after coach Matt Calland left the club last night in unexplained circumstances.

Rumours the former Bradford threequarter’s three and a half season tenure as boss were over began to circulate yesterday morning, apparently after the club’s players were notified of his impending exit on Thursday night.

And at 5.30pm Fax officials finally confirmed the news, issuing a brief joint statement saying that the Grand Final winning coach had left.

“Halifax RLFC announce that Matt Calland has left the club by mutual consent,” it said.

“Matt’s period as coach has been one of the most successful in the club’s long and illustrious history.

“The directors and staff of the club wish to place on record their sincere appreciation of his contribution to the club.

“We look forward to welcoming him back to the Shay in the future.”

The manner of Calland’s exit raises far more questions than it answers, not least exactly what frame of mind the club’s players and staff - many of whom have a long association with Calland and his mentor, the club’s former director of football Martin Hall - will be in when they run out against Dave Woods’ relegation-threatened Knights tomorrow.

Turn Club officials said assistant coach Damian Ball has accepted an invitation to take temporary charge, working alongside conditioner Andy Proctor and another assistant, the forward David Larder.

Ball did not wish to comment last night, while Larder said only that he was “gutted” by news of Calland’s departure.

Courier Sport understands that Fax have not trained at all since last weekend’s 20-16 Northern Rail Cup final loss to Leigh, leaving just today’s usually brief session to start and finish preparations for the meeting with the North Yorkshire side.

And it appears Ball will have to manage without the input of Fax’s football consultant, the former Great Britain and Bradford coach Brian Noble.

It is believed Noble, who is on a month-by-month deal which effectively only ties him to the club until the end of next week, has not been present since Blackpool for personal reasons and is not due to be at the Shay on Sunday because of his broadcasting commitments with the BBC.