FC Halifax Town: Aspin leaves a lasting legacy after six years in charge

Neil Aspin
Neil Aspin

For the majority of Neil Aspin’s six years in charge, FC Halifax Town experienced an almost unbroken and unparalleled period of success.

Three promotions in four incredible seasons will be Aspin’s legacy at The Shay; how many managers can leave a record like that?

His reign will also be inextricably linked to a remarkable win at Garforth, the win over Lancaster that followed it and a memorable cup-tie against Bradford amongst others.

Even after reaching the summit of the non-league pyramid by reaching the National League, Town came within 90 minutes of Wembley and what would have been Aspin’s biggest achievement of all when they lost in the Conference play-offs to eventual winners Cambridge.

The following season saw Town make a blistering start with six wins from their first seven games.

But the campaign gradually petered out and ended up being dragged out with just one win from their last 15 games.

If the easy bit was that first promotion, the difficult part was performed with aplomb as Aspin successfully rebuilt and rebuilt.

But one more rebuilding job proved beyond him.

It was revolution rather than evolution over the summer as the majority of the squad was overhauled in an attempt to freshen things up.

But form carried on regardless, with The Shaymen collecting just five points from a possible 30 after Tuesday’s defeat at Guiseley.

That game ended with the home supporters correctly predicting the manager’s fate, albeit forecasting the wrong day by 24 hours.

Some supporters have theorised that defeat to Wrexham in the FA Trophy quarter-final on February 11 was when the rot set in, and the evidence of just four wins from the 27 games since then compared to 18 wins from 36 games beforehand lend weight to the claims.

Players such as Jamie Vardy, Lee Gregory and Marc Roberts have been and gone onto bigger things under Aspin’s tutelage; his record in the transfer market will be judged as a huge success - Lois Maynard, Dan Gardner, Liam Hogan, Matt Pearson: the list goes on.

Attendances have fallen to just over 1,000, which perhaps played a part in the board’s decision, with some fans clearly voting with their feet.

Results and performances were slightly out of sync this season, with some excellent football in spells combined with some dreadful defending; the loss of Roberts has been felt as keenly this season as the loss of Gregory was 12 months earlier.

The levels of protest were certainly rising, even at this early stage in the season, but they hardly seemed overwhelming, with some supporters still preaching patience.

Five-and-a-half successful years ended up being outweighed six months of underachievement in the club’s eyes, and it will be a surprise to some that Aspin’s previous achievements didn’t buy him more time.

Whatever view is taken by the supporters, they’ll be grateful for the memories.