“SO far, so good.” FC Halifax Town director Bobby Ham offers his verdict on the club’s start to the Conference season with a smile on his face. With good reason.
Despite being one of only a handful of part-time clubs in the top division of non-League football, the Shaymen have adapted well to the rigours of such a demanding competition.
A 21-point haul from 14 games is an admirable effort and one that means Halifax travel to Woking today sitting 12th in the table, just three points adrift of the play-off spots and eight clear of the relegation zone.
Considering that Chester, the team promoted with Halifax last season from Conference North as runaway champions, sit third bottom, Neil Aspin’s side deserve huge credit for how quickly a club that was playing in the eighth tier of English football a little over three years ago has settled amid such exalted company.
“We have to be happy with the start we have had,” said Ham, who along with chairman David Bosomworth formed FC Halifax out of the ruins of the old club that had died in 2008 amid debts of £2m.
“We have held our own and shown we can compete with these teams.
“To be honest, we always felt optimistic, but then you never really know what is going to happen in a season until it gets underway.
“We are definitely looking up the table at the moment, rather than down. Having said that, there is still a long way to go.”
Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw at home to Nuneaton extended Halifax’s unbeaten record at The Shay to eight games, six of which have been won.
On the road, however, Halifax’s record is very different with just one point – from a 2-2 draw at Macclesfield in August – to show for their efforts in six outings.
Undermining the Shaymen away from home has been a tendency to concede late goals with the defence having been breached no less than four times in the closing stages, costing six points in the process.
One theory is that being part-time could be a contributory factor, a view former professional footballer Ham can sympathise with.
He is also, however, at pains to stress that Halifax will maintain their summer stance of not committing to any changes until a major assessment has been made of the financial implications involved in making such a bold move.
Director Ham said: “Not being full-time does make things difficult sometimes.
“Full-time teams are naturally sharper and I do feel that in the last five to 10 minutes of games that we maybe lose a little bit of concentration.
“You have to remember our players are working full-time in between playing on a Saturday and Tuesday nights. That can be tough.
“But, as for if we will go full-time one day, we have said all along that we will assess it during this season and see what we can and cannot afford as a club. We won’t get FC Halifax into trouble.
“We want to do well as a club. The aim when we started back with a new club in 2008 was to take FC Halifax Town as far as we could. To do that, we have to take a sensible approach.”
Part of that good husbandry in the summer was setting a realistic playing budget for Aspin. As part of those deliberations, a break-even average attendance of 1,600 was set – a figure that has proved pretty much spot on.
Ham added: “We are possibly 50 to 100 below what we had budgeted on. But there have been one or two factors in that, and in particular the number of games that we have at home on a Tuesday.
“Ideally, you want to play at home on a Saturday as that is when attendances are generally higher.
“It probably didn’t help also that as the cricket season and holiday season came to an end, we had a couple of disappointing results.
“That can put off the floating fan, but we are hoping we can get the average up a bit further with some good results.”