FC Halifax Town: "It's just a fantastic group" - Defender Benn encapsulates Shaymen's collective spirit

FC Halifax Town's collective spirit is encapsulated by players like Jay Benn.

By Tom Scargill
Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 1:52 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 1:59 pm

The defender hasn't played for Town in over a month, or in the league for nearly two moths, and has a player in superb form in-front of him in fellow right-back Tyrell Warren,

Yet there is an acceptance that the team comes first, a willingness to sacrifice individual ambition for the bigger picture.

In a squad where there is fierce competition for places on the substitutes' bench, that attitude is imperative so Town's promotion push isn't derailed.

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Jay Benn. Photo: Marcus Branston

"That's massive. I think if you have people, even one or two, just dragging the changing room down, it can have a massive effect and it can be a ripple on the whole changing room," Benn said.

"But we're fantastic about that, each lad, whether they're out injured or they're not in the squad, the attitude is pushing the whole team forward and I think that plays a massive part in why we're doing so well and why we're going to do well."

Benn is a product of Town's youth system, so has more reason than most to feel delighted at the club's season so far, with Halifax sitting third in the National League.

"It's fantastic. Each season Pete's been here we've improved and improved and improved," he said.

Jay Benn. Photo: Marcus Branston

"We've deserved every point we've got this season and hopefully we can push to the line."

Asked how he rates Town's promotion chances, Benn said: "Highly, I think if you look back through the season and the teams we've beaten, we've done Notts County, Stockport, Grimsby, Bromley, we were the better team against Notts County, so I fancy our chances when the big games come, 100 per cent."

Benn says having the right players and having them give everything to the cause have been crucial in getting Town where they are in the table.

"I think just the people, the recruitment's a massive part with the characters we've got and the attitude everyone has," he said.

"The hard work we put in on the training ground is relentless.

"We've got the people to get us to the line.

"I think when our backs are against the wall, you've seen the comebacks we've had this season.

"When our backs are against the wall we've got the players to drive us out. It's a great mix of youth and experience, we've got the experience when we need it.

"It's just a fantastic group and a fantastic mix."

And Benn says there is "massive belief" in the Town squad that they can be playing in a different league next season.

"If you ask anyone in the changing room 'do you think we can do it?', it would be '100 per cent yeah, I'm confident', and I think you can see that in the results we're getting and the performances.

"We're grinding out results and playing fantastically, so there's massive belief in the changing room."

Benn may not win his place in the side back any time soon thanks to Warren's excellent form in his favoured position.

But the youngster, who was handed his Halifax debut by Town boss Pete Wild in October 2020, trusts in the process laid down by Wild and his assistant Chris Millington of having young players dip in and out of the first-team.

"I've trusted Pete ever since I've been here, I know his record with young players, he knows how to deal with them," he said.

"We have conversations regularly, he's always speaking to me.

"I 100 per cent agree and I trust him with whatever decision he makes.

"I've spoken before about their background in youth football.

"We're always speaking, we always get videos to watch.

"Even when I've made mistakes in games, they're there to pick my head up and they're always there to speak to when I need answers and reassurance, that's where they're huge.

"And then following on from that about where I can push on and where I can get better, they're always available to speak to and give you that extra bit in training or work on things I want to work on.

"They're never going to look down on you when you've made a mistake, it's always 'we know where you can be and we have every belief in you'.

"As a young player you just want belief and trust from your coaches, so that's where they're huge.

"If the manager trusts you, you can trust the manager, then things can progress and you can get better and better.

"You can see it with players like Jesse (Debrah), he's got better with every performance, and that's because he's got the confidence from the gaffer and Milly to do that."

Benn feels he has improved since the start of the season too.

"100 per cent. You can look at all the experiences in each game, they make you better as a player," he said.

"I was running like a mad man first game of the season, and I feel like I did well, but then the next game wasn't quite the same, so then you can get better and better even if it's just about calming down.

"I've got better as a player and I'll look back at the end of the season and hopefully I'll still feel the same."

Benn made a brilliant start to the season, supplying an assist in the opening day defeat to Maidenhead amid a blistering run of form, only for an injury in the fifth match of the campaign against Southend to bring things crashing to a halt.

"I can't look back too much at the start, it'll wind me up!" he said.

"I had a good start, and I came back from my injury for the Grimsby games and thought I did well.

"But there was always going to be a little drop off with fitness and things like that, because of how long the injury was.

"Yes it's frustrating but I can't dwell on it because there's a lot of games to go and I want to get back in the team."

For now, that place in the team is Warren's to lose though.

"He's a great player and I wouldn't see him as a rival at all," Benn added.

"We both want the position and he's doing fantastic in holding it down.

"At the moment, it's my job to put pressure on him to make him better."