100 not out (well, sort of) as the Shaymen hit milestone

First team to ever represent Halifax town'v Bfd City reserves, September 9, 1911
First team to ever represent Halifax town'v Bfd City reserves, September 9, 1911

Supporters are today celebrating 100 years of professional football in Halifax.

On September 9 1911, 100 years ago to the day, the newly spawned Halifax Town played their first game, a 6-2 defeat against Bradford City reserves.

The team had been created following a letter printed in the Courier by Mr. A. E. Jones, who suggested the formation of the football club in the town.

At a meeting at the Saddle Hotel on Market Street, Halifax on May 23 1911, 50 guarantors put forward £1 each towards the club.

Since then life as a supporter of the club hasn’t always been easy.

The lowest point came in July 2008, when Halifax Town Football Club was dissolved after going into administration.

It was revealed that the club owed over £800,000 to the Inland Revenue and had no means to pay.

But football in the town continued almost immediately, when the current team, FC Halifax Town, was born in July that year, though many consider the new club to be a continuation of the old one, rather than an entirely new entity.

Since then, under the leadership of Neil Aspin, the Shaymen have experienced some of the best football ever and, after being relegated three divisions following the end of the old club, are cruising back up through the non-leagues having had consecutive promotions in the last two years.

The current season has begun steadily, with just one defeat in their opening seven matches and the club lying in mid-table.

The long term aspiration of the new club is to return to the Football League, where Town last played in 2002.

They had been fired there four years earlier by the potent strike force of Jamie Patterson and Town legend Geoff Horsfield, who hit 30 goals as they won the Conference in 1997/1998. Horsfield was later sold to Fulham for a club record sale of £300,000.

While the Conference winning side perhaps represents the Shaymen’s best league season, at least in modern times, some of their best moments have come in cup competitions.

Their record attendance came at the Shay, where Town have played their home games since 1921 following a move from Sandhall, against Tottenham Hotspur in the fifth round of the FA Cup in 1953, when 36,885 packed into the ground.

They also beat Manchester City in the FA Cup in the 1979-1980, 1-0, with Paul Hendrie netting the winner.

But it was in another cup competition, the Watney Cup, where they played their most prestigious opponents, former European Champions Manchester United. Town triumphed 2-1 over United, who boasted George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton amongst their ranks on July 31 1971.

To celebrate the landmark birthday, the supporters club have organised a centenary four-course dinner in the East Stand banqueting suite at the Shay tonight at 7.30pm.

Former players spanning six decades will talk about their time at the club and there will be a special presentation showing the highs and lows of the last 100 years.

George Holt, Dave Verity, Bill Atkins, Gerry Brook, Billy Barr and Ian Helliwell will all be there.

Tickets for tonight are still available, priced £40, and can be purchased by contacting supporters club chairman Kit Walton on 07708 016040.