FC Halifax Town: “Those experiences were unreal” - Renshaw on Halifax, Wild and learning the ropes at Everton
The Shaymen should be in safe hands should backup keeper Chris Renshaw be called upon.
Renshaw joined Town on February 15 on loan from Witton Albion as cover for the injured Harrison Davison-Hale after he broke his finger.
Town boss Pete Wild looks set to extend the deal as Davison-Hale is not yet ready to return to action.
It is a move up the pyramid that Renshaw hopes to replicate permanently as he seeks to work his way back up towards playing full-time football.
Renshaw joined Everton on a three-year deal in June 2016 having come through the ranks at Oldham Athletic, where he played from the age of 11.
Renshaw played for his local team, Beechfield United, in Swinton, aged nine.
He had trials at Liverpool, Blackburn and Bolton aged 11 before joining Oldham.
“I wanted to be a central midfielder, but after training one day I went in goal, they had a bit of a penalty shoot-out, I did well, saved a few and they said ‘do you want to go in for the start of the season?’ and I’ve not looked back really,” he said.
Renshaw worked under Town boss Pete Wild for two years when he became a scholar with The Latics, when Wild was assistant manager of the under 18s to Tony Philliskirk.
“I can’t speak highly enough of him to be fair, always got on with him, how he wants to improve players,” Renshaw said of Wild.
“Obviously you’re working with the goalie coach a lot more, but then you need your backing from the manager and the coaches because ultimately they’re the ones picking the team.
“He helped me a lot.
“I kept my eye on Oldham and when Pete got the first-team job I was buzzing for him and I sent him a text wishing him well.”
Renshaw joined Everton for a six-figure fee when he was 18.
“Ronald Koeman had just gone there and it went down as Koeman’s first signing, but it was more a joint thing with the under 23s,” he said.
“I’d had a good last year at Oldham, we had a decent run in the FA Youth Cup, so I had an idea people were watching me.
“I couldn’t wait for it to get over the line.
“The difference in the facilities, everything’s there for you that you need.
“I had three or four times where Maarten Stekelenburg got injured in that first season and I ended up travelling with the first-team to games.
“We did Leicester and Arsenal and then a couple at Goodison where you do the warm-up on the pitch with the keepers, the shooting with the players and then you get a shower and watch the game in the stand.
“Those experiences were unreal.
“Being at Oldham and then six months later you’re on the same coach as Lukaku and some of the other big names, it was crazy.”
But some niggly injuries meant Renshaw was never really able to develop his full potential at Goodison Park.
“Apart from an ankle injury, they weren’t really big injuries, I just couldn’t get them right,” he said.
“With my knee, it was a bit of cartilage they shaved away. It wasn’t a big operation, but whenever I tried getting back my knee kept swelling up and I couldn’t get it right.
“That was really frustrating, I love training and when you’re not out there it can be really hard psychologically as well as physically.
“When you do come back, you don’t realise how intense the training is, it’s only once you’re back you realise how quickly you can lose it so you’re kind of playing catch up.
“The real frustration was that it wasn’t like I’d played and it hadn’t worked out, it was more than I felt it hindered my progress.
“That was why I made the decision to go to Witton, because I knew the stage I was at, I needed 10, 15 games to get back to my best.
“When you’re higher up, they have the resources to bring in whoever they want so you’re not going to get as much time, which I completely understand.
“It can be tough to take, you just can’t take it personally.
“As long as you’re going into a good environment, and I’ve been really lucky because Witton are a really good group of lads.
“I did initially think ‘are the facilities going to affect me here?’ but if you’re playing and training well, and you’ve got a good group of lads, then you’re happy.
“The three, four weeks I’ve been at Halifax, the gaffer said they’ve got a good group of lads and since I’ve been there it’s been proven right because they’ve all made me feel at home and really helped me settle in.
“I’ve enjoyed the training and being involved again with the matches.
“It’s alright having the facilities but if you’re not playing or not involved, I think I’d take being lower and training all the time, and being in a good group.”
Renshaw admits he hadn’t played anywhere near as many games as he’d wanted at Everton, and was eager to get back playing.
“I left there and weighed up my options, had a couple of chances to go in as number two at League One, League Two, go on trial at places.
“I was at a point where I’d had a bit of time out, not really played for so long and just thought if I did another year as a number two I wasn’t going to do myself justice.
“So I had the opportunity to go to Witton, and I just thought ‘I’ll go and get 40, 50 games under my belt in men’s football.
“I ended up playing 36 games in my first year, which got cut short with Covid.
“Then I thought I’d stay again. I knew I’d done well, and it had got cut short so I thought I could kick on again this year, and then it’s just been a real frustrating one because we only ended up playing about 10 games this season.
“And we started well, we were fifth with a couple of games in hand.”
When asked where he feels he developed most as a goalkeeper, Renshaw said: “I owe a lot to Oldham, especially those last two years, which were my first taste of full-time football.
“That brought me on massively.
“Then going to Everton, you’ve got all the resources in terms of the analysis, the gym and everything, that was a great learning experience for me.
“Then going to Witton was my first real taste of playing men’s football week-in, week-out, which is a totally different ball game to playing your academy football.
“Even going up higher to Halifax, it’s men’s football but the level is raised but it’s now a test for me if I can cope with that and hopefully I can do.”
On how his move to Halifax came about, Renshaw said: “I wanted somewhere to train. I wanted a loan but I thought that might not happen.
“Noting was coming up and then I got the call because I knew the gaffer from Oldham, saying they’d had an injury and they wanted a bit of backup for the time being.”
And Renshaw says Wild is still the same bloke he knew from his days at Oldham.
“Same guy, loads of knowledge of the game, wants to give you all he can on the opposition and how the lads can get a result,” he said.
“He wants everyone to work hard but wants them to enjoy it as well.
“I get on with him really well.”
Renshaw, 23, is also enjoying with goalkeeping coach Paul Oakes.
“I knew of Paul because he’s from Oldham, but this is the first chance I’ve had to work with him,” he said.
“The training so far, I’ve enjoyed it, and Sam Johnson is a good lad as well.
“It’s testing me but I speak to Paul about what I think I can improve on and he’ll speak to me.”
Renshaw is now targeting a return to full-time football.
“I want to go as high as I can,” he said.
“I want to keep my goals short-term. I played at Witton’s league, my goal now is to be back full-time and be playing Conference or in the league.
“I’ve got the chance now to be number two, but I’ll take it from there.”
Would he be interested in a more permanent move to Halifax should the opportunity arise?
“For now it’s a month’s loan,” he said.
“I was lucky to get this call because it’s two leagues above.
“I’ll just see how it goes and then speak with Paul and Pete and see what their situation is.
“I’ve enjoyed it so far though.”