Time now a factor as Halifax attempt to move on in Trophy

FC Halifax Town director Bobby Ham.
FC Halifax Town director Bobby Ham.
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FC Halifax Town have been so desperate to get their much-delayed FA Trophy third-round replay played that the past week has been spent phoning round neighbouring clubs to ask to borrow their pitch.

Oldham Athletic, Rochdale and Bury are just three of the Football League outfits that have fielded calls from Yorkshire’s only Conference representative.

The frozen state of The Shay pitch has been the problem, the replay against Dartford having already been postponed three times.

Halifax will have another try tomorrow to get the game on. However, with this weekend having been set aside for the quarter-finals and the scheduled semi-final first leg being just 15 days away, time is against the Shaymen due to the Football Association wanting the third round resolved as quickly as possible.

Hence the ring-round of local clubs that has, so far, proved in vain. Town director Bobby Ham told The Yorkshire Post: “We are starting to get a little bit anxious.

“We are doing as much as we can but the bottom line is we are at the mercy of the weather. The snow that fell a couple of weeks ago turned to ice quite quickly and it hasn’t shifted.

“I was down at The Shay (yesterday afternoon) and one half of the pitch is fine. But the area in front of the South Stand, which doesn’t get much sun, is still quite hard.

“We are hoping the temperature, which has been a bit higher since the middle of the week, will help. We are desperate to get this game on and, hopefully, we will manage to do so this Saturday.

“If we don’t, it won’t be through a lack of trying. We have tried everyone we could think of as a possible venue. We have been in touch with Oldham, Rochdale, Bury, Hyde and Curzon Ashton but all of them were unable to accommodate us. Most of them are playing.

“Bradford City was also out of the question because of the problems they are having with the Valley Parade pitch, while Bradford Park Avenue and Guiseley have also had their share of postponements lately. It is very frustrating.”

The Shay, which is owned by the local council, is far from the only local ground to suffer in the recent cold snap.

Park Avenue, for instance, have had eight home games postponed already this season at Horsfall Stadium, something that has left the Conference North side having to play catch-up in the fight to avoid relegation.

Guiseley, too, have suffered with last weekend’s scheduled match against Hyde at Nethermoor falling victim to the weather, while the state of the Valley Parade pitch was heavily criticised by Bradford City manager Phil Parkinson after last weekend’s 1-1 home draw with Colchester United.

Halifax’s problems with The Shay, however, are made more pressing by the FA Trophy’s tight schedule.

If Neil Aspin’s men can beat Dartford, either Wrexham or Gateshead await Halifax in the next round. That quarter-final tie is pencilled in for next Tuesday.

Director Ham added: “The FA have told us that if we don’t play this weekend then there is a chance the tie could be moved to Dartford.

“Obviously, we want to avoid that, especially as we have been told by the people at Dartford that their own pitch has been struggling.

“Hopefully, we can get the game on at The Shay this weekend. But if that isn’t possible then I am sure there will be a ground somewhere we can use.”