FC Halifax Town: Hibbs determined history won’t repeat itself

Actions from FC Halifax Town v Maidenhead, FA Trophy match, at the MBI Shay Stadium. Jake Hibbs
Actions from FC Halifax Town v Maidenhead, FA Trophy match, at the MBI Shay Stadium. Jake Hibbs

Jake Hibbs is one of five survivors of Town’s relegation from the National League two years ago - and is determined not to see it happen again.

The Halifax board twice decided a change of manager was needed to steer them clear of the drop zone that season, but to no avail as The Shaymen slipped out of the fifth tier with a final day draw at home to Macclesfield under Jim Harvey.

And there is a sense of history repeating itself after Billy Heath’s departure, with Town in the temporary control of caretaker-manager Neil Young.

Hibbs played 37 times for Town two years ago, and is now on a run of 13 consecutive appearances for The Shaymen this season, having not featured at all until late November.

“I think there’s four or five of us who have had that experience, whereas I don’t think many of the lads that have come in have,” said Hibbs.

“I can honestly say there’s nothing worse. Until you’ve been there and experienced it you don’t realise how bad it really is, so we definitely don’t want to get relegated again.

“You just feel like you’ve let people down, and there’s nothing worse than that.

“The fans have always been great since I’ve been here, and we get a great following for away games.

“But you feel that you’ve let them down and let yourself down as well. It’s just a horrible feeling.”

Hibbs experienced two transition periods between managers in the 2051/16 season after the club sacked Neil Aspin and then Darren Kelly.

“It’s a strange period,” he said. “You can’t really get settled because you don’t know what manager’s going to come in.

“But I think everyone just takes it as it comes really and play how it comes naturally, which I think is a better way of playing.

“There’s good points and bad points with it.”

On his time so far under Young, Hibbs said: “We only had three sessions under him before the Wrexham game but it’s been good.

“It’s different under every manager but he’s just trying to bring a bit of confidence back into us, which I think you saw on Saturday.

“Hopefully over the next few games we can build on it.

“That’s the second time we’ve drawn with them this season. The way they play suits us in a way.

“Expectations might be a big higher now from the way we played.

“Not having a game until Wrexham probably helped a bit, just to settle everyone down.

“But I thought we went out on Saturday and did the fans proud in getting a result. We ground it out, it wasn’t pretty at times, but I thought we were much better on the ball than we have been, and it was a good result.”

When asked what lesson Town need to learn from failing to survive two years ago, Hibbs said: “Getting the right manager in is the biggest thing.

“But it’s down to the players to get round each other and pull together.

“Michael Collins, Matty Brown and the other senior lads got round us all before the Wrexham game and said ‘we’ve got to stick together and grind it out’.

“We didn’t really have that last time, there was no-one who really stood up and said ‘we’ve got to battle for it’.

“I think we’ve got a bit more of that this time though.”

And on Town’s chances of staying up, Hibbs said: “Solihull have gone on a good run but I think we’ve got to play a few teams in and around us.

“We can definitely stay up, we’ve definitely got enough quality and desire in the team.

“We just need to start getting wins. The difference on Saturday was we came off the pitch with a point and a lot of the lads were disappointed.

“We thought we could have won it. Dents had a couple of good chances.

“So the mentality has changed. A few weeks ago if we’d got a point everyone would have been buzzing, so you can see it’s changed a bit.”