FC Halifax Town: "I look back now and I'm more proud now than when we achieved it," says former boss Heath on his time at Town

Billy Heath says his Alfreton side will have to be "really, really at it" if they are to knock table-toppers FC Halifax Town out of the FA Trophy on Saturday.

By Tom Scargill
Thursday, 13th January 2022, 3:16 pm
Alfreton boss Billy Heath

It will be the first time Heath will have faced his former club, who he guided to promotion from the National League North in 2017.

And Heath is looking forward to coming up against his former club.

"I was pleased (with the draw), it'll be nice to test ourselves, they're top of the league in the Conference National," he said.

Sign up to our daily Halifax Courier Today newsletter

Heath after his Halifax team secured promotion from the Conference North in 2017

"But the most important thing is we're at home, which we don't usually get. The ball always comes out second when it's Alfreton.

"It'll be good to play them, although there's not a lot of lads left from when I was there, I think there might only be Big Sam (Johnson).

"But it'll be interesting, it'll be a good game for us."

Heath, who won the FA Trophy as North Ferriby boss in 2015, is under no illusions about the test that lies ahead for his side against The Shaymen.

"I've watched them a couple of times this season, obviously everything's accessible now whether you're at the game or not," he said.

"We know we're playing against a top quality side and a real good manager in Pete, he's done a fantastic job at Halifax, an unbelievable job.

"We know that we're going to have to be really, really at it at the weekend, that goes without saying.

"We're playing against a team that's top of the National League so they're a very good team and we know it's going to be difficult.

"But you know what my teams are like, we'll give everything and make it as difficult as we possibly can."

Alfreton are 11th in the National League North, just two points adrift of the play-offs.

"I think we've had a good season so far, we started slowly but we're happy to where we are now," Heath said.

"We're in and around the play-offs, a couple of games in hand on a couple of teams.

"You have to put it into perspective what our club is. I think everybody's pleased where we are.

"We're pushing hard to try and reach the play-offs.

"I've got a good squad, really tight-knit. I'm pleased with the attitude of the players and the tightness of the group.

"It's something we've been trying to build at Alfreton for a long time.

"We've got some experience, we've got some youth.

"We're in a good place at the minute."

On what Halifax can expect from his side, Heath said: "It's exactly what it says on the tin from ourselves, we work tremendously hard, we've got some good players, who know the level.

"First and foremost you know we're going to work extremely hard, and I think that's the foundation.

"We have got quality in the right areas, so hopefully it'll be a good, competitive game."

Saturday's game will only be Alfreton's second of 2022, the other being a 3-2 win at Boston United on January 2.

"We've had problems, which you could say for a lot of teams the way things are at the minute," Heath said.

"We got cancelled at the weekend, but it's allowed us to get players fit for the game on Saturday.

"We had three or four players that were going to be missing on Saturday and they should all be fit."

Former Halifax players Dayle Southwell, Josh Wilde and Josh Clackstone are in Heath's squad at Alfreton.

"Josh is still with me, he's been with me a long time, we brought Dayle in in the summer, who's done ever so well, an experienced player and has scored goals.

"And Clacky's done ever so well, he's been with me at Alfreton from day one.

"They're all good players, and it'll be good for them."

Heath insists coming up against his old club offers no extra incentive to win the tie.

"There's no added motivation for me because it's Halifax, my old team, there's no extra motivation for me," said Heath, who left Halifax in January 2018, and joined Alfreton in May that year.

"Every game is as if it's the last game, that's just the way I am, whether we're playing Halifax in the Trophy or anybody else, my motivation is always the same.

"I'm no more driven because it's Halifax than if we'd drawn anybody else, I just like to win every game we're involved in.

"It'll be nice to see a few old faces, but it's another game for us to get another win in the column and get through to the next round."

Reflecting on his time at Halifax, Heath said: "I think there's too many managers now who want to pat themselves on the back in whatever form that is.

"I try not to self-promote, but we're tremendously proud.

"I look back now and I'm more proud now than when we achieved it.

"We came into the football club when it was really rock-bottom.

"The club had been relegated into the Conference North and I think when I walked through the door I had four players registered, and two of them had long-term injuries.

"To get promoted in nine months, when you think how klong it's taken some teams, big teams, to get back into the National League, where they want to be, it's taken them a long, long time.

"So we're really proud about that because it took us nine months.

"I enjoyed my time at Halifax. It's fond memories.

"I'll have a chat with David (Bosomworth) and Bob (Ham) at the game.

"We achieved a lot in a small, small space of time and we left the club in a better position than when we walked into the building, which is all you can do as a manager."

Heath is still assisted by Mark Carroll, who was his number two at Halifax.

"Where there's one there's the other," he said.

"He'll always be with me until we decide to call time on it, but that's a long way off yet.

"The desire's still there. I'm at a really good football club at the minute and long may it continue because I'm not done yet."