Town’s road to promotion

Oxford City v Halifax Town doesn’t really sound like a fixture that belongs in the Blue Square North.

Neither does Halifax Town v Bishop’s Stortford, or Halifax Town v Colwyn Bay.

Not because any of those teams don’t deserve to be in the Conference North, but geographically speaking, not all of them are in the same country, never mind the same region.

FA Trophy meetings with the likes of Chelmsford and Dartford are timely reminders of the demands placed on non-league clubs just to fulfil their fixtures.

The FA Trophy is a national competition, so you’d expect the odd cross-country trek here and there, but with the likes of Worcester and Gloucester on the league map this season, the division’s regional credentials are being severely tested.

Clubs at tier seven of football are in the no-man’s land of the sport; too big to be super-regionalised but not quite big enough to be let loose across the country.

We all know the road to promotion is a long one, but if Halifax do go up this season, they’ll have certainly clocked up the miles to show for it.

Despite the title, Town’s bread and butter competition is really another Conference National in all but name.

A brief look at the fixtures reveals the Conference North to be as northern as cockney rhyming slang and Cornish pasties.

The impact on clubs is costly, both in terms of added expenditure for petrol and service station stops and for player fatigue.

But fans have a price to pay as well of course, with midweek trips to Colwyn and Gloucester still to come, meaning supporters have to travel longer and later to see their team.

Unfortunately though, I don’t really see what can be done about it.

Any suggestions would be interesting to hear, but short of introducing a third regional division (the Blue Square Middle?) or offering clubs a Concorde hiring facility, the prospect of Blyth Spartans visiting Oxford next season remains a distinct possibility.

Follow Halifax Town reporter Tom Scargill on Twitter for live updates throughout every Shaymen match - and check for reports after the game.