Aspin reflects on five years in the Shay hot seat

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The fifth anniversary of Neil Aspin’s appointment as Town manager seemed to pass by unnoticed in the build-up to the club’s play-off semi-final first-leg against Cambridge.

Appropriately enough, the week which marked his five years at the helm saw the Shaymen reach the highest point yet of their inexorable upward curve since his appointment.

Only goalkeeper Phil Senior remains from the playing staff Aspin inherited from previous incumbent Jim Vince back in 2009.

The former Port Vale defender instigated an overhaul of the squad that summer which has been repeated, albeit on a smaller scale, each close season since thanks to those almost-uninterrupted promotions.

Aspin said: “When I turned up there were lots of players, the wage bill was far too high and we had to reduce that.

“It was massive for the league it was in and that had to change. The whole attitude of the club had to change. I had to bring in players I knew, that I could trust.

“There was a lot of upheaval but once we got it going then it just went on from there.

“The first promotion was the most important, which got everything going in the right direction.”

Aspin admits the years have rolled on fairly relentlessly since then.

“They’ve gone pretty quickly, it doesn’t seem like five years.”

He says the club’s top-five finish last season probably topped his list of achievements at the Shay so far.

“Any time we win I enjoy it whatever league we’ve been in,” he said.

“There’s not really any single game (that stands out).

“It’s been a progression. I’ve enjoyed the football we’ve played, we’ve scored a lot of goals and there’s been some good players who’ve played for the club.

“The achievement this season has probably been the best one of the lot.

“I’ve never sat down and picked a team from the five years but it would be a very strong team and I’m sure it would cost a bit of money too.”

The Town boss concedes life in the dugout can be stressful, and that his five years at the Shay haven’t all been plain-sailing.

“It drives you mad but if you’re not in it then that drives you mad as well,” he said.

“You have to try and enjoy it but there’s a lot of times when it becomes difficult when you’re getting stick or losing games.

“It can be a very difficult job when people are having a go at you.”

Aspin is realistic about the chances of a repeat performance next season, but says he is up for the challenge.

He added: “We got into the play-offs this year and were close to getting to the final.

“As a part-time club nobody gave us a chance but we proved we could do it.

“We’ve got to try and prove people wrong.

“You hear people saying we’re going to lose players, our top-scorer and it can’t be done again.

“I’ve heard all the negativity but I have to try and figure out how it can be done.

“If I didn’t think we could do anything there’s no point starting again next season.

“We’ve got to see what personnel we have to try and go again.

“I’m not unrealistic, we know it’s going to be tough, probably even harder than last season.”