Flashback: When survival proved short-lived for Halifax Town

Joy: Halifax fans celebrate what proved a short-lived reprieve.Joy: Halifax fans celebrate what proved a short-lived reprieve.
Joy: Halifax fans celebrate what proved a short-lived reprieve.
FC Halifax Town enjoy putting their supporters through the wringer when it comes to final-day deciders.

Ten years ago this weekend the club, still playing under the guise of Halifax Town AFC, hosted Stevenage in a crucial game with regards to retaining their Conference status.

The Shaymen had already been hamstrung due to a 10-point deduction at the start of the season for entering administration, and they went into this match just two points above Altrincham, who they needed to drop points in their game with Weymouth.

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Heading into The Shay showdown the hosts had history on their side. Halifax had beaten Stevenage 4-2 on the final day of the 1996-97 season to beat the drop and supporters would have been hopeful that history would repeat itself 11 years later.

Despite the omens being positive the hosts were to make an awful start against Stevenage. Future Leeds United striker Steve Morison, causing havoc then and nowadays leading the Millwall attack, opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark.

Morison’s goal was followed on the stroke of half-time by a second for the visitors, Gavin Grant beating Adam Legzdins from the edge of the area.

It was a much-improved showing from Chris Wilder’s side after the restart and they were able to reduce their arrears just after the hour mark.

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Morison went from hero to villain, committing a handball in his area and gifting the hosts a reprieve.

Jon Shaw stepped up and converted his 20th goal of a profitable campaign on a personal level.

Despite pushing for an equaliser it did not arrive, but no matter – events 300 miles away in Weymouth had already confirmed Halifax’s survival.

Altrincham twice came from behind against their hosts, but could not fashion a winner, ensuring the Shaymen conjured another great escape.

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A crowd of 2,229 was in attendance at The Shay and, understandably, the full-time whistle was followed by a pitch invasion.

Of course, the joy turned out to be short-lived.

That historic game proved to be the final outing for the club in their 97-year guise as Halifax Town AFC.

Weeks later the club’s financial struggles saw them go into liquidation and the club folded, resulting in a delayed demotion despite their on-pitch achievements.

Despite being forced to start again in the eighth tier of English football, the renamed FC Halifax Town built from the bottom up and today they reside in a healthy position, mid-table National League level .

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More importantly they are sitting pretty off the pitch, too.

For loyal Shaymen supporters, the events of that day in 2008 may not be looked back at fondly, but it can now be seen as the nadir of the club – a club that are thankfully enjoying their reincarnation a decade on.

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