FC Halifax Town: Collins glad to be back playing after seven month break

FC Halifax Town
FC Halifax Town

Seven months away from playing was enough to convince Michael Collins to dust off his boots.

The former Huddersfield and Leyton Orient midfielder, who also had spell playing for Indian club Bengaluru last year, last played on May 6 but made his debut for Halifax in their 1-0 win at Aldershot last Saturday.

His move to The Shay was first mooted in the summer, but Collins opted to go into coaching at Bradford City.

But the 31-year-old is confident he can now juggle the demands of playing and coaching.

“I had an offer in the summer from Halifax and I made a decision to step across into coaching,” he said.

“I’d spent a lot of time away from home travelling, playing in London, India, Oxford, and my partner had settled back home with my little girl, which is where I grew up.

“It got to the stage where I wanted to go home with them. But before I’d had real contact with Halifax I’d committed to Bradford.

“There was no way I was going to back on my word and I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve done, but I just miss that buzz of playing.

“I had a chat with Bradford and asked if there was any scope to still commit to them but go get involved playing, which they were OK with.

“I’ll need to alter my role slightly there but I want to keep that commitment.”

Collins played the full 90 minutes last Saturday and was quietly impressive sitting in front of the Town back four.

“I’ve had no pre-season, no games, just kept myself fit,” he said. “I knew I’d be able to get through the game, although I thought 90 minutes might be a bit of a challenge.

“Towards the end my calves were letting me know I hadn’t had any football for seven months, but I’ve missed that feeling of coming into a dressing room after such a dogged performance.

“There’s no better feeling and as much as I absolutely love coaching, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity I have, I knew I was making a decision I may regret at some point being so young.

“Especially off the back of a good season at Leyton Orient. It was a disappointing one for the club getting relegated but I felt I performed quite well.

“It was a big call and over time that itch has never gone away.

Collins says he appreciates being a player more having had time away from that side of the game.

“Now I’ve seen the coaching side of it I understand how much more you can do as a player,” he said.

“Even though I class myself as a dedicated lad who did everything as a professional footballer in the right way, I probably didn’t do as much as I could have done in terms of working on weaknesses.

“As a coach you just focus in on fine details and it’s been an eye-opener to me. I’m learning a lot as a coach and hopefully it’ll make me a better player, and I can be like a coach out on the pitch.

“Hopefully I can show to the lads at Bradford that if you look after yourself and remain professional you can have a long career.”

Collins lives in Holmfield having grown up in Halifax and watched Town as a boy.

“My era was the Geoff Horsfield side,” he said. “I used to go down to The Shay with my cousin Simon Grix, who plays for Halifax RLFC.

“When it is your hometown club it does mean that bit more to you.

“It’s a privilege to play for the club.”

Collins is the lead coach of Bradford City’s under 18’s, but says The Bantams have agreed to tailor his role to suit his career change.

“I didn’t want to lose the coaching because I love that,” he added, “but I’m grateful I’ve got the opportunity to pull the boots back on, and for my hometown club.

“I’m pleased I’ve got the first game out of the way and it’s even better we got the win.

“I like to get on the ball and play but I did feel a bit rusty out there.

“There were a few wayward passes but after seven months of not playing I’ll take that for a 1-0 win.

“It’s one hell of a challenge at this level when you’re part-time that doesn’t have the contact time that most of the clubs in this league have.

“But the lads seem like a really good bunch and they’ve welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home.

“I couldn’t have asked for it to have gone any better so far, I’ve really enjoyed it.

“Hopefully we can start looking up the table rather than down it.”