FC Halifax Town: Peniket glad to be back after toughest time of his career

Richard Peniket in action for FC Halifax Town v Welling at The Shay
Richard Peniket in action for FC Halifax Town v Welling at The Shay

Things were a lot different when Richard Peniket last started for FC Halifax Town.

Neil Aspin was in charge of The Shaymen, the coalition government was still running the country and Jeremy Clarkson was still presenting Top Gear.

Peniket’s 12 goals that season were only part of his contribution to the club’s campaign, with the forward’s hold-up play and work-rate meaning he was in the midst of a successful first year until injury struck.

And it was just as Peniket seemed to be enjoying his best form yet for Halifax that he broke his anterior cruciate ligament in the 0-0 draw at Altrincham on March 21.

Just over 10 months later, Peniket was handed a start against Welling a week after his comeback appearance as a second-half substitute at Woking.

“It was the hardest period I’ve been through in football,” said Peniket on his enforced exile.

“But I want to be the best player I can be and do well in my career and I just thought I’d work as hard as I could, give it a real good shot to get back.

“It was a nightmare. But the closer it got the more you could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I was pleased it went quite quick in a way but then you look back and think ‘bloody hell, that was a long time!’

“It’s great that my knee feels the same as it did before it happened.”

Peniket is adamant he will recapture the form he was in before the injury but admits he had doubts about whether he could reach that level again.

“I’d say the worst part was just feeling the pain constantly there and you’re wondering if it’s ever going to be the same, wondering if you can ever be the same player again,” he said.

“But I’m convinced I can get back to the level I was at.

“I feel great. I’ve had no problems and no pain from the knee.

“The hard work looks like it’s paying off. I feel strong but now it’s about getting that sharpness and now I feel I’m getting sharper with every game and hopefully it won’t be long before you’re seeing the best of me.”

Prior to his Halifax return, Peniket had a spell on loan at former club Telford, which he feels was an important step in his recovery.

“It was quite hard on the lungs because I was playing on the wing so I was up and down the pitch,” he said.

“I was thinking after 20 minutes ‘there’s still 70 minutes to go here!’ but it’s done me good to do that then come back here.

“I feel sharper and hopefully I can have a good last few months of the season.”

Peniket’s next target is to get his first goal for Town since netting in the 1-1 draw at Aldershot on March 10 last year, although he came close with a late chance at Woking and a header against Welling that required a superb save from keeper Marek Rodak.

“It’ll be nice when I hit the back of the net,” said Peniket, “then it will all have been worth it.

“It was really nice to be back out there at The Shay.

“The support I’ve had from the fans has been brilliant, from the lads and the staff so I want to say thank you to them.

“Hopefully in a couple of weeks those will be going in but I think the (Welling) keeper’s pulled off a good save from the header.

“I’ll probably need to keep my emotions in check!

“It’ll be a great feeling and hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later.”

The 22-year-old said he could have become the forgotten man at The Shay, but is determined to repay the support he has received throughout his spell on the sidelines.

He added: “That feeling of walking out with the lads and hearing your name on the team-sheet was a good feeling.

“The fans have been brilliant with me.

“It would have been easy for them to forget about me and for everyone to think ‘well, he might not be worth it’, but everyone’s stuck with me and I’m hoping to repay that faith now.”