"Wild's impact was both immediate and sustained" - Assessing Pete Wild's three years in charge at FC Halifax Town

It had long been a question of when rather than if.
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When a club would come in with a project that ticked enough boxes to tempt Pete Wild away.

When a club would be able to offer enough attractions and incentives for Wild to leave the superb job he has taken so far down the road at Halifax.

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When a club would prise him away from The Shaymen and leave the club pondering what happens now.

Pete Wild. Photo: Marcus BranstonPete Wild. Photo: Marcus Branston
Pete Wild. Photo: Marcus Branston

Wild undoubtedly leaves Town in a far, far better position than he inherited. He wanted to see progress every season at The Shay - he certainly achieved that.

It was progress upon progress, so much so that on the pitch and off it, the club is a completely different animal to what it was back in the summer of 2019.

Wild took over a half-finished squad, a club that had finished in mid-table anonymity the previous season and a fan base craving some excitement and energy.

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They certainly got that. Wild's reaction to Nathan Clarke's incredible goal in the 4-1 win at Ebbsfleet in his first competitive game in charge said much about the man who had taken over: jumping up and down, arms aloft, reacting like a fan, with enthusiasm and passion.

Before that, in his first match, a hastily arranged pre-season friendly at Oldham of all places, Town played with freedom and finesse in a performance which symbolised the fresh start that was in its embryonic stages, but which would completely rejuvenate the club.

Wild's impact was both immediate and sustained. The play-offs at the end of his first season, just missing out on them in his second, and the play-offs again after amassing more points than ever for the new club at this level.

Some record.

He brought humility, common sense, integrity, drive, ambition and leadership to the club, and fostered a team spirit, a happy environment and a winning mentality. And for the majority of the time, a swashbuckling, stylish brand of football, the best seen at The Shay in years.

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They shook off the 'little old Halifax' tag and established the club as promotion contenders.

All on an Aldi budget in a promotion race fought in the aisles of Waitrose.

Their recruitment was overwhelmingly successful, owing much to the approach of signing the person first, then the footballer, so that when rainy Tuesday nights and slender leads arose, they'd get commitment, maximum effort and resilience in return.

Talents like Kian Spence, Jack Senior, Billy Waters, Matty Warburton, Kieran Green, Jeff King, Tom Bradbury and several others were identified, nurtured and blossomed.

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But they also turbo boosted players they inherited, such as Niall Maher, Jack Earing and Jay Benn, and ensured the production line can continue with the likes of Jamie Cooke and Sam McLintock waiting in the wings.

Having Gareth McClelland as head of recruitment and Steve Nichol as head of youth development are crucial to the continuity and stability of the club.

But whoever replaces Wild has massive shoes to fill.

New managers at Halifax usually come in with a relegation battle to fight, a squad to rebuild or dreadful form to turn round.

Not this time. Wild's successor has been handed a club heading in the right direction and has to continue to steer it that way.

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In all likelihood, it's what Wild will do where he ends up next, in all likelihood at Barrow.

Wild was an inspired choice by chairman David Bosomworth. He will know this day was coming and must now get his decision right again to ensure all Wild's good work isn't for nothing.