FC Halifax Town: "You can see the togetherness of the lads," says new signing Dearnley

Zak Dearnley says he has joined a team with a winning mentality after his arrival at FC Halifax Town.

By Tom Scargill
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 11:35 am
Updated Thursday, 10th February 2022, 12:03 pm

Dearnley signed for The Shaymen last week until the end of the season after he left League Two Oldham.

And the 23-year-old, who scored in the 6-3 West Riding County Cup defeat at Liversedge last week, has liked what he has seen at Halifax so far.

"All the lads are sound, a really good group," he said.

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Zak Dearnley during his time at Oldham

"I'm just looking forward to getting going.

"Coming from one team that's at the bottom in the league above and going into this team, you can see the togetherness of the lads. I'm not saying Oldham aren't together, I'm just saying what I've experienced coming into Halifax is everyone seems together, Pete's done a great job, going into training everyone's helping each other, the standards are great, you can see everyone wants to do well, even in little training games, everyone wants to win, there's that winning mentality there.

"Pete takes a lot of meetings, tactical meetings, you can see why they're doing very well and why they're pushing for promotion."

The forward should know a thing or two about a winning mentality, having grown up at Manchester United.

Dearnley supported United as a kid and was scouted by them aged nine while playing for Penistone Church, who were managed by his dad.

"It was brilliant, obviously you don't realise what you have until it's gone," he reflected.

"I just wish that at that young age, I knew what I had and I knew what other places were like compared to being at the top.

"All in all, it was amazing. It had everything."

Dearnley played with Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay, Timothy Fosu-Mensa, Axel Tuanzebe, Dean Henderson, Mason Greenwood, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Brandon Williams, as well as Town team-mate Tyrell Warren, in the youth system at Old Trafford.

"Being on the bench under Mourinho, that was a day I'll never forget, being on the bench for a Premier League game for one of the best teams in the world," he said.

"That was a great experience, seeing what being a footballer at Manchester United is like.

"I trained with the first-team quite a bit, which was good, training with some of the best players, I enjoyed that.

"I trained a bit with van Gaal, and a bit with Mourinho.

"The players were obviously unbelievable, and Mourinho is one of the world's best managers.

"It was so intense, you had to be on it every single day.

"It was a good experience, I enjoyed it."

Dearnley was released by United in the summer of 2019.

"At the time I didn't know what I was going into so I didn't realise what it was like to go to another club," he said.

"I went on loan to Oldham, but I'm sure like most people at Man United, they don't think they'll ever leave.

"I don't think it hit me until after the summer, after I came back off my holidays, then I came back and I realised I've left, so that was tough.

"But you get on with it and there's no reason why you can't get back up there. I'm still young."

During his loan spell from United to Oldham, Dearnley was given his debut by Town boss Pete Wild, who was in caretaker charge at Boundary Park.

"When I first met Pete he was great, really nice, welcoming," Dearnley said.

"I think I only played one or two games under him, because Paul Scholes came in.

"That was the whole reason of me going to Oldham, because I knew Scholesy was going to be the manager.

"But Pete was great. He's a great guy, great manager. He's obviously doing very well with Halifax."

Dearnley then played under Scholes during his brief time as manager at Oldham.

"Obviously he's been there and done everything so to learn off him, you knew you were getting the best," Dearnley said.

"You could just ask him anything because you get some managers who think they've done it all and know it all, but with Scholesy, you know he's one of the world's best midfielders, so any advice you got off him, you just take it straight away.

"I enjoyed Oldham. Unfortunately this season didn't go how I hoped, for whatever reasons, but my time there was great, I scored a few good goals, met some great people.

"It was good to get men's football regularly."

On what his best position is, Dearnley said: "You've got some big lads at Halifax who are nice and strong and can hold the ball up.

"It's probably better for me to play a bit wider because they can hold it up for me to run onto.

"I'd say striker, I do like playing down the middle, but if it's more beneficial for the team and for me to get more goals, then I'll play out wide."

And on what Halifax fans can expect from him, Dearnley said: "I can get assists and score goals, I'm a goalscorer, I've proven that.

"Unfortunately I've dealt with a few injuries.

"I've not been injured this season, I know a lot of fans think I have but I've not.

"I had a little niggle on my calf two or three weeks ago but that was it.

"I'm not match fit yet, but that's going to come in time.

"Mentally I feel good. I'm signed until the end of the season, which isn't long, so I'm just going to get my head down and work hard for the team and for myself.

"Hopefully I can get match fit and get to the best of my ability."

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PHOTO GALLERY: FC Halifax Town in training