FC Halifax Town: Tomlinson left to ponder what might have been after injury-hit season

Ben Tomlinson, FC Halifax Town v Harrogate Town at the Shay, Halifax
Ben Tomlinson, FC Halifax Town v Harrogate Town at the Shay, Halifax

The thought of the 2018-19 season being a ‘what-if’ campaign for Ben Tomlinson would have been unthinkable in its infancy.

Tomlinson was integral to Town’s stunning start - which left them top of the table after five wins from their first seven games - having assisted four of Halifax’s first 10 goals.

He then sustained a cruciate ligament injury in the 1-1 draw at Sutton on September 1, which kept him out of action for three-and-a-half months.

And now, an injury to one of his quad muscles in his hip during the 1-0 win at Maidstone in February has ruled him out for the rest of the season.

“The two times I’ve done it have both been next to nothing that’s caused it,” said Tomlinson, who hopes to get a date for his operation in the near future.

“I’ve just clipped the ball 30 yards, overstretched slightly, but I felt a click or a pop and thought ‘maybe I’ve done my quad again’.

“It’s quite a rare injury to get but I’ve done it twice, I did it on my left side when I was at Barnet in 2016.

“I played four months and two days after the operation that time, so if you take a month’s training off that, it’ll be three months, which takes you to pre-season.

“If there is a good time to have it, it’s probably now, because it means I’ll be back for pre-season.

Tomlinson isn’t sure if the injury is connected to the knee problem he suffered earlier this season.

“It’s on the same side as that leg, so maybe it’s compensated a bit for it, I don’t know,” he said.

“Maybe it’s something that’s not very strong with me genetically.

“You put loads of hard work in to get back, and then something else goes, and it’s frustrating.

“You can’t help it, it’s one of those things I guess. It’s a case of being mentally strong the first time, and even more mentally strong the second time.

“I just have to knuckle down. I can’t really do a great deal at the minute.

“Everything seems to hurt it a bit. Any sort of gym work seems to leave it sore.”

Reflecting on his campaign as a whole, Tomlinson said: “It’s been a bit of a frustrating season for me, stop-start, but you’ve just got to get your head down, get this season put to bed, hope the boys can get as high up this league as possible, and personally, I need to be as ready as I can for pre-season.”

The 29-year-old’s contract expires in the summer, but the former Macclesfield and Carlisle attacker says he would like to stay at the club for what would be a third season.

“What will be, will be. It’s not something that’s in my hands. I can’t do anything to prove myself because I can’t play.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here. Billy (Heath) brought me here, but I didn’t really play under him.

“The gaffer came in and I’ve done well under him. I’ve probably played the best I’ve played in the last few years under him.

“It would have been nice to stay fit this season and see where it could have taken me as a player.

“I was in good form and if I could have stayed fit all season then who knows what could have happened.

“I enjoy it here, I’m really good mates with half the boys here, because I’ve been here two years now, which in non-league terms is a long time.”

Tomlinson feels The Shaymen haven’t been too far away from a play-off push this season, and insists the team have progressed under manager Jamie Fullarton.

“There’s 100 per cent been progression from last season to this season.

“We just need to get a few more decisive goals. We’ve had a lot of draws.

“No-one is particularly happy with a draw. The emotion is ‘we’ve not lost so I’m not devastated, but we’ve not won so I’m not happy’.

“When you get a few put together then the fans get frustrated, and the players do as well.

“But if you chuck 10, 15 more goals onto our tally and turn half those draws into wins then you’re right in the mix, so it’s a shame we haven’t got a few extra goals.

“But if you’re telling me that’s not progression from last season, when we were looking over our shoulders all season, then yeah, it is.”