Kit man Helliwell sad to leave The Shaymen

Ian Helliwell
Ian Helliwell

Ian Helliwell says he never wanted to leave the club after his departure from FC Halifax Town was confirmed this week.

The 61-year-old was at the club for 27 years and had served as kit-man since 2008.

“I did not want to leave under any circumstances, but wasn’t given a chance to prove myself,” he said.

“I was also greatly upset to get to the ground to get some of my personal belongings only to find they had changed the locks.

“I also wasn’t contacted to attend the civic reception.”

Helliwell says he has some wonderful memories from his time at Halifax.

He was at the club when they went up to the Football League in 1998 and for the promotions under Neil Aspin, but says the win at Wembley in the FA Trophy final is his highlight.

“The win at Brackley (in the 2013 Conference North play-off final) was terrific.

“They were a tough side and I wouldn’t have said we were favourites but we played really well.

“The coach back home from that game was just brilliant,

“The promotion in 1998 was special, with the open top bus parade to the town hall. An unbelievable feeling.

“But the win at Wembley has got to be the best of the lot.

“The whole weekend was terrific.

“Four of us - me, Jordan Porter, Sam Walker and Scott McManus - got to go to the FA Cup final the day before.

“Then for us to win was just the icing on the cake and it’s something that will be in the history books forever.”

Helliwell also says he worked with some fantastic players during his time at The Shay.

“We’ve had some great players,” he said. “Geoff Horsfield stands out - when we needed a goal to get us out of trouble or win us a game, Geoff would usually score it.

“Paul Stoneman, Peter Jackson, Kieran O’Regan and Jamie Paterson from that promotion-winning team were all brilliant players.

“More recently you’ve had Tom Baker, Ryan Crossley, Steve Payne, Jamie Vardy and Lee Gregory - I don’t want to leave anyone out because we’ve had so many talented players over the years.

“It’s fantastic what Jamie has achieved. I thought he could play higher, but the Premier League and England? No way.

“I remember when I had to buy him a pair of boots for £30 off eBay because he had no money to get any new ones.

“Although eventually he did send me some that cost about £200 or £300.”

Helliwell’s association with Halifax began as a child.

“I supported Halifax as a kid and I’d go to see them if they played in midweek and when they played on Friday nights,” he said.

“I played in a really successful youth side which was run by Jack Haymer, who was involved with Halifax and ended up getting a trial with the club.

“I was a left-back. I was quick with Vardy-like pace and I didn’t mind a tackle.

“I didn’t get offered anything at Halifax but I played in their reserves, which as a local lad meant so much to me.”

He then graduated to working for the club.

“I was running a junior team in Northowram and we were really successful,” he said.

“We had a number of who attracted a fair bit of attention so we took the to The Shay for trials and three or four of them got taken on.

“I also got asked to stay around at the club and help them out.

“I’ve always worked full-time as well so I fitted it around my shifts, which were three days on and three days off.

“Halifax had a reserve side at that time so I’d help out with that and muck in with other jobs that needed doing around the club.

“Then the physio/kit-man Alan Cox left the club and I got asked to take over in 2008.”

Helliwell says he had a great relationship with Chris Wilder, who managed Town between 2002 and 2008.

“Chris didn’t bring his own people in, he was happy to work with who was there,” Helliwell said.

“I started getting more involved with the first-team and took a bit of training and did the warm-ups and cooling down bits.

“I would say Chris was the best manager I worked under, with George Mulhall and Kieran O’Regan a very close second.

“Chris was very thorough, covered everything and encouraged me to be involved.”

Helliwell also enjoyed a good friendship with Neil Aspin.

“Neil and I didn’t see eye to eye at first because Chris had encouraged me to get under the opposition players’ skin and have digs at them to affect their game, but Neil said that wasn’t his way of working,” Helliwell recalled.

“But we warmed to each other and became really good friends and we’d go out for meals and stay at each other’s homes.

“Neil was the bad cop and Trevor Storton was the good cop.

“Trevor was such a nice man and it so sad that he died.

“We all thought he’d pull through it but obviously it wasn’t to be.”