HAD FC Halifax Town not gone full-time during the summer, this would have been a week to test even the most resourceful of managers.
Having claimed a point from the 475-mile round trek to Sutton United, the Shaymen follow tonight’s visit to leaders Wrexham by hosting fifth-placed Leyton Orient at the weekend.
It is a demanding schedule but one Jamie Fullarton is relishing as his Halifax side look to build on their own encouraging start in a division where some of the big guns boast seven-figure playing budgets.
“This is a full time league with a lot of big clubs,” said the 44-year-old Scot, whose side sit just a point behind Wrexham after collecting 16 points from the opening eight games.
“By which, I mean ones with history and tradition, plus some big budgets. By being full time, we have given ourselves a better opportunity of being successful as we now have much more contact time with the players.
“Using this week as an example, we trained (yesterday), play at Wrexham, are off Wednesday and then train again Thursday and Friday.
“Compare that to last season, where we would have played on the Saturday at Sutton and then not seen each other again until setting off for Wrexham on the Tuesday.”
Fullarton arrived at The Shay last February with Hallifax deep in the relegation mire. Two wins in the previous 20 matches meant he seemed to have a big job on his hands to drag the club clear of trouble.
But that is just what happened, as five victories and just three defeats in the final two or so months brought a 16th place finish. Then came the move to full-time, which coincided with the 10th anniversary of FC Halifax being formed from the ashes of the old Football League club.
“There were no guarantees of us going full-time if we stayed up or anything like that when I joined,” added Fullarton.
Professional standards to give us an identity and a home. For a club looking to progress, that is vital ... these are the marginal gains that full-time gives youFC Halifax Town boss, Jamie Fullarton
“But the chairman (David Bosomworth) had already identified the importance of making the change in terms of being able to survive in this league, never mind compete.
“Part of the interview process was what would it look like in my eyes. How did I see it working? What were the implications in terms of time, energy and finance?”
The board must have liked what they heard as Fullarton is not only overseeing a full-time set-up but also looking forward to moving into a new training ground later this week, complete with brand new gym facilities, office and physio room.
“Professional standards to give us an identity and a home,” he said about the soon-to-be new rented set-up in north Leeds. “For a club looking to progress, that is vital.”
Progress on the field is the focus tonight. As with last Friday’s overnight stay ahead of the Sutton game, the club’s full-time status means the logistics of an away trip do not – unlike in the past – have to factor in ‘day’ job commitments of the players.
“These are the marginal gains that full-time gives you,” he added. “As a staff, you are looking to limit the excuses of the players for not performing.
“We prepare them the best possible way to remove any reason – maybe that is a kinder word than ‘excuse’ – for not performing.
“That can be down to diligence on the opposition, working on our game plan or preparation in terms of when you leave for an away match and when you eat. That level of professionalism has an impact.”