FC Halifax Town: Tomlinson staying put after finishing last season on a high

Actions from the game, Guiseley v FC Halifax Town, at Guiseley
Actions from the game, Guiseley v FC Halifax Town, at Guiseley

Up and down is probably an accurate description of Ben Tomlinson’s first season at The Shay in more ways than one.

As Tomlinson prepares for his second year with Town after signing a new one-year contract, his prodigious work-rate and ceaseless running on the right flank mean that could be where he features most, having effectively made the position his own towards the end of last season.

Tomlinson joined The Shaymen as a forward last summer but rarely started up-front under Billy Heath.

After starting in the opening-day defeat to Aldershot, Tomlinson’s next eight appearances were all as a substitute.

He then flitted in and out of the starting line-up until the appointment of Jamie Fullarton, who started Tomlinson in 11 of his 12 games in charge, albeit usually as a winger.

Reflecting on his first season with Halifax, Tomlinson said: “It was up and down. it was frustrating at the start not playing as much as I wanted to.

“But then I got a good run in the team and felt like I did much better and it ended well for me.

“So it was a bad start but a good finish.”

Asked if Town fans had seen the best of him yet, Tomlinson said: “They probably haven’t, no.

“It was a stop-start season for me, but it got better towards the end.

“Am I capable of better? Yes, I know that. And hopefully I’ll show that.”

On his development into a winger, Tomlinson joked: “You tend to get further back the older you get so I’ll probably be playing right-back next season!

“I can play both positions. There are positives and negatives with that.

“Being a striker, you get judged by that whichever position you play, so it’s a case of ‘why aren’t you scoring 20 goals a season?’ But that’s because I’m not always playing as a striker.

“I have no particular preference, but both are better than not playing at all.

“But you do get judged as a striker no matter where you play.

“I ended up as a central midfielder at times last season, playing as a number 10 but working back.”

Tomlinson added: “I’m no slacker, so when it comes to working hard, I’ll work as hard as I possibly can.

“Sometimes if people are strong down one flank and show the same aggressiveness defensively as they do going forward, that role suits them.

“But I can adapt to both roles. It’s a good option for us. I can see why I get used like that.”

Tomlinson feels the appointment of Fullarton was the beginning of a mutually-beneficial relationship between player and manager.

“He’s laid his stall out and said ‘this is what I want’.

“For me, that’s easy to read, and I’ve done what he’s asked me to do,” Tomlinson said.

“It’s a two-way street. He’s laid out what he wants, which is energy and commitment, which are the basics.

“They’re not for every player, because you get players in different shapes and sizes with different mindsets. Some work hard, some don’t.

“But I think I’m a good fit what the gaffer wants, and he has a positive effect on me.”

Tomlinson is excited at the season to come after the club’s move to a full-time model.

He added: “I think it’s good for us because of the amount of time we will get to work together training as a group, especially with the gaffer, who likes to get everything perfectly to a tee.

“That’s the easy answer, but you do get the odd freaks like a Braintree, who finished high-up a few years ago being part-time.

“We will be able to put in extra time on the training pitch, which will leave us in good stead to have a good season.

“It’s not a case of ‘we are full-time now so we will win the league’. What it does is increase our chances of being up there.

“If we get players in that we want and need, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t challenge for a play-off place.”