FC Halifax Town: “We measure everything we do against them” - The core values behind Shaymen’s impressive start

A winning mentality, a professional attitude and being tactically aware - these are the three core values behind FC Halifax Town’s strong start to the season.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 10:05 am
Chris Millington. Guiseley AFC v FC Halifax Town. Pre season friendly. Nethermoor Park. 3rd August 2021. Picture Bruce Rollinson

They are the objectives that were drawn up by senior players at the club in pre-season, against which everything, from training to games, should be measured. And so far, the results speak for themselves.

Town have won seven of their first 11 games and sit third in the National League.

Other factors like recruitment and tactics have also played a huge part in Town’s exciting start, but their core values are the driving force.

“The wider group came up with a number of things and they were refined down to those three core things,” says assistant manager Chris Millington.

“We pulled together things that were similar and the senior players narrowed it down to those three core things.

“It’s been great because it gives us as a staff something to measure ourselves against but we can also measure the players against it, and they can measure themselves against it when they walk off the pitch.

“We measure everything we do against those three core objectives and values.

“Everything we do in training, we’re looking to maintain high standards, we’re looking to be tactically aware in terms of as a team, but as individuals, what are our roles and responsibilities within the team, within the different moments of the game.

“And everything we do starts with measuring it against those. Then we go below that, and once you scratch the surface, we go into more detail around what that actually looks like within our play.

“But it’s an easy tool for everybody within the group to be able to measure what we’re doing in terms of training, in terms of our analysis, in terms of our games - are we approaching those things and successfully living up to the three core values and objectives we want to measure ourselves against.”

Millington is delighted that The Shaymen are getting their rewards this season in terms of results that he feels their performances have merited.

“I’m really pleased, and the thing that pleases me most is I think the lads are getting what they deserve out of games more often that not,” he said.

“I think if we’re performing well, we’ll generally get what we deserve and I think the performances have deserved the results.

“So I’m pleased from that perspective.

“I think we’re maybe a little bit ahead of where I’d have predicted in terms of our style of play, but I’m not necessarily surprised.

“What we were really keen to do at the beginning of the season was build on what work we’d done with last year’s players.

“The lads who were retained and decided to stay, we felt we’d done a good body of work coaching them and we could start to develop that, refine it a bit, and it would help the new players coming in because there was already an understanding within the group of what we want to do.”

Millington says a lot of the foundations upon which Town’s strong start has been built have been in place for a while.

When asked why he thought Halifax had started so well, he said: “I think the stability, having a core of players who have been with us since last season, some of them were with us the season before, and they understand the way we work, our methods and the information we’re getting across.

“Although we’ve tweaked and evolved the style of play over the previous two seasons, they understand what it is we’re trying to do and how we’re going about it.

“So in a club where there’s a bit of stability and a bit of time to plan slightly longer-term, we’re starting to see the benefits of having that.”

Millington feels a clear identity has been formed around the team now and their style of play.

“I’d really hope that people can describe what a Halifax Town team looks like now on a Saturday afternoon,” he said.

“I think people will be able to look at us and see that we look to break lines, we look to break forward, we look to play a possession-based game.

“Out of possession we’ve got a good intensity on the turnover, on the transition we press aggressively, and when we need to we can get into a good compact shape and be difficult to break down.

“I think it’s no secret that they’re the traits we’re trying to bring out and even when the opposition are analysing us, they can see that’s what we are and we’re effective in what we’re trying to do.”

Millington says another pleasing feature of the season so far has been the impact of the squad’s younger players, like Jay Benn and Kian Spence.

“I’m very excited. The really pleasing thing is starting to see, more than the previous two seasons, the way we plan seasons and our style of play come out more and more in games,” he said.

“I think the exciting thing is we’re using the full squad, so if somebody comes out because they’ve got an injury for example, then the people coming in slot straight into the system and are able to do as well, if not better, than the lad who was in before them.

“The younger lads are now getting their chance and we’re seeing some of the players who’ve been with us for a year but haven’t had loads of minutes are playing more regularly, which is really pleasing, and doing a good job as well, which is even more satisfying.”

Millington says he and manager Pete Wild won’t be getting too carried away by the team’s impressive start though.

“We set out with objectives, we want to be at the top end of the division and if we can achieve something through playing the way we want to play, and with this group of players, then that would be fantastic,” he said.

“But we’ve made a decision, along with the senior players, that we approach every game with a winning mentality and we look at every game and try and work to give ourselves the best chance of winning that game.

“Our sole focus is on the upcoming game, we don’t get too carried away with trying to play two or three weeks in advance, we know what our style of play is, we know how we’re going to approach different types of teams and different types of shapes, but we look at the upcoming game and narrow focus in on what we’ve got to do try and win it.

“What that leads to, it’d be great if it leads to something that other people define as success, but for us, success is winning the next game.”