FC Halifax Town: “Winning is the most important thing to me, that drives me on every day” - Shaymen midfielder Woods still hungry for success
Town midfielder Martin Woods says he is still hungry to succeed as he prepares to embark on his 17th season in first-team football.
The 35-year-old midfielder signed a new one-year contract with The Shaymen this summer after making 36 league appearances for the club last season as they narrowly missed out on a second successive play-off finish under Pete Wild.
But he says there is no reason why Town can’t be among the National League pace-setters next term, especially after Wild retained a big chunk of last season’s squad.
“It’s good that the manager’s been able to keep a lot of the boys he wanted to keep,” Woods said.
“Obviously we’ve lost lads but I don’t think we were a million miles off it last year and I think there is more to come from the team in general, and I think we could have got more out of the team last season if we’d been better in both boxes.
“So there’s nothing stopping us being right up there again next season.”
Woods says Town will need to be better in both boxes next season though if they are to challenge at the right end of the table again.
“I will never hammer people for missing chances, it’s not as if they’re trying not to score, but there were too many chances missed last season,” he said.
“So more emphasis on that on the training ground, extras in finishing, more concentration and being more ruthless in the opposition box.
“In our box, I feel like we conceded too many sloppy goals. If it only happened once or twice then you let people away with it, but when it continues to happen and you’re putting so much into games, and there’s not much in the games, then that’s the type of thing we need to eradicate.
“If we get better in both boxes then I think we’ve proven we’ll not get outplayed off many teams, or outbattled by many teams.
“It’s just a matter of putting our chances away and staying focused for the full games, and eradicating these daft wee errors we had at times.
“It’s the type of group that’s going to be trying so hard every single day we go in, every time we go in everybody gives it their all, so you can’t really ask much for from everyone.
“Hopefully it all comes together well this year and we cut out these daft wee things and get the points I feel our performances deserved in a lot of games last year.”
Reflecting on last season, the former Sunderland, Leeds and Doncaster midfielder said: “It was a strange season, personally it was strange with no fans, which just takes the edge out of the games, you find yourself needing to slap yourself in the face for some games to get up for it.
“So it was totally alien in that sense, and on the other side of it, I hadn’t played in 16 months, so the positive side I’d take is I don’t know how many guys would have been able to look after themselves and be able to start the season after 16 months at my age, and go and play 39 games, without fans, and then with long Covid.
“So it was a very strange season, but there are positives to be taken from it.
“There’s more to come from me. But you’re getting used to a totally different way of playing as well.
“Initially you have to get your head around certain things, and work off it. In the main, positive enough but certainly more to come from myself and more to come from the group.”
Woods added: “If you’ve not played in 16 months then you’re getting used to just playing football again.
“At my age, obviously you can do as much training as you want but having not played for so long, it’s pretty good in a way that I know my body can cope with it.
“There were so many games in such a short space of time, it was good in that way, but I know the league now, I know the standard in the league, I know my team-mates more, which was different to get used to initially.
“That will all stand me in good stead next year.”
The Scot, who was out-of-contract after the end of last season, said he did receive offers from the Football League over the summer.
“I had some interest from a team in the league above and one in the league above that, but it just came down to, you can wait about for these things, or you think ‘why do I need to change things at my age, and wait about for things?’,” he said.
“I’m happy there, so I just wanted to get it boxed off, and I’m happy to be staying.”
Woods looks set to be the oldest member of the Town squad next season following the departure of captain Nathan Clarke, and his experience and seniority off-the-pitch, having played nearly 400 first-team matches as a professional, could be crucial in helping the younger players through the ups and downs of a league campaign.
“If you spoke to any of the boys, I don’t like bigging myself up in that sense, I’m always there for everybody, to try and say the right things, put it across in the right way and there for advice, and a lot of the boys ask me certain things,” he said.
“I’ve got as much time for them as they want and that’ll continue to be the case.
“Clarkey’s going to be a big miss, he was a great guy, so level-headed, you knew what you were getting off Clarkey day-to-day in the sense of always in the same mood, that’s something that’ll be missed around the place because he was such a good guy, he had good standards, the same as Danny Williams, they set good standards, day-in, day-out.
“Hopefully the people we bring in do the same because it’s not a group that’s got any egos, it’s not a group that’s got any people that disrupt it and don’t work hard, it’s been a group that’s gone in and grafted every day, and it’s been a good workplace to go into.
“So hopefully we bring in are similar types of characters because they’ll be two big misses off the park.
“They were part of our leadership group, but I just feel leaders can be whatever age, if they’re just starting out, if you’ve got a valid opinion then bring it to the table, and I think it’s that type of group where they’re open to everyone’s opinion, as long as we’re doing it for the right reason.
“Hopefully it’ll be a very good environment again.”
Next season will be Woods’ 17th in first-team football, having made his debut for Hartlepool in September 2004, but he says the drive and hunger for success is still there.
“Pre-season not so much, no!” he joked. “Running bores me to tears if I’m being honest, if it’s running for a ball or some kind of game, then I love it, I love all that, and I love winning.
“That’s what drives me on, the feeling of winning, that’ll never go away for me.
“I’m fit and able, and I feel great in my body. As long as I feel like that then I’ll have a few more years left in me hopefully.
“Having not played for so long, if I was carrying stuff I wouldn’t have been able to play the games I played, especially with the illness I had for a bit.
“Winning is the most important thing to me, that drives me on every day, I just love to win.
“I love to be part of an environment that you can see people are trying their best, trying to improve. That was one of the main reasons that I wanted to sign again, because it’s that type of group that you actually enjoy going into work and enjoy working with these guys.
“You can’t not enjoy going in, seeing people smiling and happy doing what they’re doing and giving it their all.
“As long as I see that in a team I’ll be playing in, then I’ll enjoy it.
“That’s why it hurt on the last day of the season because you put in so much throughout the season, and it was for nothing in the end.
“We failed, so it’s that drive to not fail this time. I want to look in my two lads’ eyes and see them enjoying a promotion again, or lifting another trophy.
“That’s what drives me on day-in, day-out, that I want to see the look on their faces when there’s good times, and see them proud of their dad. That’s what drives me on every day.”