My Time At Town - Peter Jackson: “I wasn’t there long but the memories I have from it will last forever”
And little did he know that his short spell at The Shay would help set Halifax Town on the way to a remarkable achievement.
”I’d just been released by Chester, and there were a couple of offers but nothing concrete,” he recalls.
”Then George (Mulhall, Halifax manager) rang me. I started my career with George, he took me to Huddersfield and I ended up finishing with him.
”So I went from full-time football to training Tuesdays and Thursdays at Shibden Park.
”It was a big thing for me to go part-time. But I’ve always had a big soft spot for Halifax - my father-in-law was a big supporter and when I first got into footballI used to go to The Shay every Friday night when they were at home.
”They’d just escaped relegation on the last day of the previous season so they couldn’t really get any lower.
”My first day was up at Savile Park, and I was lapping some of the young players. I was 36, coming to the end of my career, so I think I set a standard to them that I’d not gone there to mess about, I’d gone there to work hard and train hard.
”I think it pushed everybody’s levels up.
”I loved it because it was like going back to playing with your mates. It was a fantastic atmosphere.
”We had an amazing team but no-one could have predicted what was going to happen that season.
“We didn’t have the biggest of crowds.
“I remember for some reason after games me and Jamie Paterson used to take our shirts off and swing them above our heads.
“I was so pleased for the loyal fans who stuck with them through thick and thin, and they could sense we had something special going.
”I remember my first away game, I think it was Hayes, we set off at 8am and I said to George ‘are we stopping for a pre-match meal?’ and he said ‘no there’s some sandwiches there’.
”I said ‘what about coming back?’ and he said ‘there’s another box for on the way back’.
”I think we beat Yeovil 3-1 on a Friday night, I think Geoff (Horsfield) scored a hat-trick. Graham Roberts was in charge, former Tottenham player, and we ripped them apart.
”Geoff absolutely tormented poor Graham Roberts, who was player-manager.
”I can remember every game. The football we played was incredible.
”To go from being nearly relegated the season before, to running away with it - I had no doubts they’d do it after I left.
”And you could see Geoff was going to go on and make a really good career for himself.
”But that night against Yeovil, I saw Geoff come in before the game, about 6pm, straight from the building site, pair of shorts on, pair of muddy boots, and he was eating a McDonald’s.
”I said ‘what are you doing Geoff?’, he said ‘I’ve not had anything to eat, I’m starving’.
”Talk about preparing well, up at five in the morning, coming in with a McDonald’s and tearing Graham Roberts apart!”
Mulhall was the architect of Town’s astonishing season, somehow taking a 66-1 shot all the way to the promised land of the Football League.
”He was brilliant, I loved George,” says Jackson.
“I played with Kieran (O’Regan, Town’s player-assistant manager) having played with him at Huddersfield and he was a really good player and a good coach.
”But I had so much respect for George, signing me as a young professional. He had a lot of faith in me.
”Even when I used to bump into him I was still frightened of him, he had that aura about him.
”We were very close and we had a lot of respect for each other but I was still frightened of him.
”He was a really good coach. Kieran did a lot of the coaching but George did a bit as well.
”There were so many big personalities but he had a lot of respect from everybody. When George spoke, people listened to him.”
But even working under Mulhall wasn’t enough to keep Jackson at The Shay when an offer came in he couldn’t refuse.
”I signed a one-year contract but I had it written in that if a club came in for me offering a coaching or managerial role, they’d let me go for nothing,” he says.
”And by October, I left for Huddersfield.
”I think I played 10 games and I didn’t get beat. I must be the only Halifax Town player who never got beat!
”I got a medal at the end of the season.
”The first thing I used to do after Huddersfield games was run into the dressing room to look at the television and see if Halifax had won.
”I wasn’t there long but the memories I have from it will last forever.
”I was disappointed to leave but it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.
”I achieved the great escape in my first season as manager, and then a year to the day I was appointed, we went top of the league, which was incredible.
”I think I did 430 games as a manager, so it was a no-brainer.
”It wasn’t a hard decision but it was a sad decision because I knew I was leaving such a lovely, friendly club that would go on and win that league.
”Then (Brian) Kilcline came in thinking he’d fill my boots - he wasn’t as good as me!
”He slipped into place really.
”To think I helped them win the championship after I used to go down and watch them on a Friday night when I was an apprentice.
”The big thing for me was my father-in-law being an ardent Halifax fan, and he was so, so proud of me.
”Unfortunately he died not long after, but at least he saw the rise of Halifax Town again.”