FC Halifax Town: Season preview

FC Halifax Town
FC Halifax Town

This summer has seen the biggest revolution at FC Halifax Town since the club reformed a decade ago.

Under the intensely-focused leadership of manager Jamie Fullarton, The Shaymen have undergone a transformation on and off the pitch, adopting a full-time model and reinvigorating their squad with an intriguing roster of players.

Whenever a move to a full-time model was talked of in the past, it usually came with misgivings about the transition; the practicalities, the logistics and the planning.

But it appears to have gone fairly seamlessly, from the outside at least.

Fullarton has had a busy summer chasing targets, scouting players and pushing through deals, not to mention overseeing double training sessions most days; by the time it’s complete, around two-thirds of his squad will be brand new.

Chairman David Bosomworth said that the club wanted to ‘give it a go’ on their tenth anniversary, and appears to have backed that up in the transfer market.

Fullarton acknowledged as much after the signing of Woking’s England C captain Josh Staunton was announced, when he praised Bosomworth’s part in the deal.

A constant theme from new faces this summer has been the part Fullarton has played in getting them to The Shay due to his detailed research and analysis of players, and then his vision and passion in selling the club to them in person.

Fullarton’s squad consists of players he has tracked for years or worked with before: striker Dayle Southwell, signed from Guiseley, has been touted in non-league circles for a while as a sought-after goalscorer, and is a real coup for The Shaymen; Fullarton has tracked him since 2013.

Fullarton will believe midfielders Jordan Preston - Fullarton first saw him playing for Blackburn’s under 21’s - and Cameron King have untapped potential that he can extract, while Staunton, like Southwell, was on the radar of others.

Wingers Sanmi Odelusi and Mekhi McLeod - Fullarton worked with them while in charge of Bolton’s under 21’s - will add pace and trickery, while the retention of Niall Maher and Ben Tomlinson ensure two strong performers and strong characters stay put.

Matty Brown and Matty Kosylo will again be vital cogs in the machine, the former offering steel and strength in defence, the latter capable of skill and swagger in attack.

Mixed pre-season results may have dampened the enthusiasm of some Town supporters, especially last Saturday’s disappointing 2-1 home defeat to National League North side Boston United, and The Shaymen will certainly need to do better when it starts for real at Braintree on Saturday.

The National League has undoubtedly increased in quality since last season.

Town’s switch to a full-time model has been necessitated by the division morphing into something resembling League Three.

Had Halifax remained part-time, they would have effectively been competing with one hand tied behind their back, such is the nature of the fifth tier now. Apparently only four clubs in the Conference remain part-time.

Coming down are Chesterfield and Barnet, managed by experienced non-league campaigners in Martin Allen and John Still respectively, while coming up are title-favourites Salford and Harrogate, both of whom have sizeable budgets.

Boreham Wood, Fylde, Aldershot, Ebbsfleet and Sutton are all capable of emulating their play-off finishes last time out.

The likes of Wrexham, Leyton Orient and Hartlepool will be determined to improve on underwhelming campaigns too.

All of which leaves not much room for Halifax.

But The Shaymen may be happy to go under the radar and let their football do the talking.

Bring on the revolution.