FC Halifax Town: Skipper Brown wants a positive start after chaotic pre-season

Matty Brown. Picture: Kelly Gilchrist
Matty Brown. Picture: Kelly Gilchrist

Skipper Matty Brown is hoping Town's turbulent pre-season can galvanize the squad into a positive start to the campaign.

Friendlies against Frickley, Doncaster, Darlington and Salford had to be either cancelled or rearranged, manager Jamie Fullarton left the club after their first warm-up game at Farsley, and the squad is still a handful of players short.

"If you were to say what's ideal and what's not, it'd be bottom of your list and as far away from what you'd want," admitted Brown, who is about to embark on his fifth season with the club.

"But us as footballers, we're used to adversity and dealing with managers going.

"Usually, you find you end up gelling together as a team a bit more as a result of it.

"I'm looking forward to seeing what comes out the other end because I think we could turn all this negative energy into a positive start, and use it as added motivation to prove people wrong."

On the departure of Fullarton, Brown said: "Jamie did what he did for the club, and in terms of his commitment, effort and what he did you can't really question it.

"He kept us safe, and you could argue he did again the following season.

"Yes it might not have been easy on the eye at times, but on the whole, he brought that level of professionalism to the club that it needed.

"You never like to see anybody lose their job but it's somebody else's turn now to hopefully push us on again onto that next level."

Pete Wild has been in the Shay hot-seat for a week, and took charge of his first game on Tuesday night against former club Oldham, with Halifax winning 1-0.

"Since he's come in he's been really refreshing," Brown said. "He's pulled me for a couple of conversations, wanting to know the ins and outs and how we see things as players because he wants to lean on us.

"He's very honest, hard-working, and passionate about what he wants to achieve.

"He's got a clear plan of how he wants to go about achieving it.

"It was successful at Oldham, and he wants to be successful at Halifax.

"He's not scared to lean on players for advice or opinions. Some people might see that as showing weakness and asking for help, but in my book you can only respect that because sometimes you do need a bit of help and guidance.

"We've been drawing back the grey areas and we've had a black and white plan of what we want to do.

"He wants us to be solid, he wants our creative players to create, but number one, he demands hard work.

"He's reiterated to us that we will have bad days, we will get beat, we'll play well and get beat. But as long as the effort is there week-in, week-out, which fans want to see, then he'll always defend us and we'll have more good days than bad if we have that mentality.

"I think everything he's introducing to us will be based on hard-work, being aggressive, being on the front-foot."

Halifax were hoping to bolster their squad before Saturday's season-opener at Ebbsfleet, but Brown insists The Shaymen will be ready for the game come what may.

"Us as players are professionals, we've got to make sure we are," he said.

"We've got enough quality already to do well and compete, regardless of what signings are made.

"We're not hiding away from the fact that we're short on bodies, but we've got to be ready. There's no other way of looking at it.

"I know the gaffer's working tirelessly to get people in for Saturday's game, but if that doesn't happen, that doesn't give us an excuse if we don't get a result.

"We want to go there and get off on a good footing. you can see from last year how important that can be."

Brown feels the arrival of Wild has already had an effect on the squad.

"I think whenever a new manager comes in it gives you a kick up the backside," said the Town captain.

"Everyone's basically on a clean slate and trying to impress.

"I know it shouldn't happen, but you find yourself running that extra yard for the new manager and wanting to do well for him.

"I think it's given the lads a spring in their step and an added motivation. I'm sure with the arrival of a few more players it'll definitely be a successful season."

Brown is prioritising safety first for Halifax, but says their ambitions shouldn't stop there.

"First and foremost, I'm always Mr Negative, I'll just be looking forward to get to that 50-point mark and getting safe," he said.

"I've seen good starts turn into bad seasons, I've seen bad starts turn into good seasons.

"I've spoken to the gaffer about monthly points targets, and where we want to be in terms of the season and not letting it drift, which is very positive as players that the manager wants to go into that much detail.

"We need to get points on the board early doors and get off to a good start, but if you're looking to improve from last season, you've got to be looking for a top-half finish, and maybe trying to creep into the play-offs.

"But that will depend on bodies coming in, and other bodies might have to go out to make room for that, but that's football.

"We want to achieve as much as we can at the club. My first target is to get safe but I'd love to have a good crack at these play-offs."

Brown says the past few weeks have been as tough for the Town fans as the players.

"They've been on the emotional rollercoaster with us again, which they've been on many times in the past," he added.

"I'm sure it will happen again in the future, but stick with us, keep doing what you're doing, because they do have a big impact on what we do on the pitch.

"They get us through those tough times. The gaffer wants it to be a together unit with the players, and we also want that togetherness with the fans to achieve it all.

"I'm sure the fans will come together, they're very proud people, it's a big club and they want to see it do well."