Groundhopping: FC Halifax Town v Guiseley AFC

Distance traveled: 13 mile round trip (plus detours)

FC Halifax Town

Matt Glennon, Sam Patterson, Scott McManus, Simon Ainge, Matty Pearson, Archie Love, Joe Ironside, Adam Smith, Josh Wilson, Kevin Holsgrove & Lois Maynard

Substitutes: Kevin Holsgrove replaced by (Dan Gardner 45 minutes) Matty Pearson off (Jon Worthington 53 minutes) & Joe Ironside off (Paul Marshall  68 minutes)


Steve Drench, Andy Holdsworth © Rhys Meynall, Jack Rea, Adam Lockwood, Danny Hall, Wayne Brooksby, Danny Boshell, Alex Johnson, Danny Forrest & Gavin Rothery

Substitutes: Alex Johnson (Craig Dobson 76 minutes)

Yellow cards:

FC Halifax Town: Archie Love 62 minutes

Guiseley: Rhys Meynall 28 minutes, Danny Boshell 39 minutes, Danny Hall 49 minutes

Red cards:


Referee: Darren Handley

Attendance: 935 (98 Guiseley fans)


As part of my new groundhopping quest to visit as many local grounds as I can, I made a short trip to Halifax to go to The Shay for FC Halifax Town versus local rivals Guiseley AFC in the FA Trophy.


Halifax’s North Bridge and flyover

The afternoon didn’t get off to a cracking start, as I made several wrong turns in Halifax’s nightmare road system. I always seem to get lost when I drive in the town centre, despite doing and passing my driving test in Halifax’s Pellon district, due to the paucity of decent signage and confusing road layout – getting onto North Bridge in particular. I have a bit of an altercation with a bus as a result, and then manage to drive past the entrance to The Shay, necessitating another u-turn.

I get there just after 1pm, planning to take a leisurely look around the outside of the stadium, visit the club shop, and maybe get a coffee on the concourse before going up to the seating areas.


Car Park Ticket

I know that its £3 to park in the car park, and I’m paying £13 to get in, so I go to pay the car park attendant. I’ve only got a £20 note, which would wipe out the lady’s float of pound coins, so I’m instructed to park up and go and pay to get in, get change, then come back and give her the £3. So, off I trot to the reception at The Shay, explain what’s happened, go into the fact that I’m neither a Halifax nor a Guiseley supporter, ascertain that I’m allowed in the home fans seating area, and hand over my £20. I get my change and I’m told to come back to reception and they’ll let me in.


Welcome to FC Halifax Town

After duly paying the car park attendant, I take a few pictures of the outside of the ground then head back to reception.


Shay Stadium Reception

The chap I talked to about 5 or so minutes earlier doesn’t recognise me at first, so I have to explain to him again that I’ve already paid my £13. Expecting a ticket or something, I don’t get one and I’m directed up to the third floor where I’m told I’ll be let out onto the seating area, but I’m not to sit anywhere in the last four rows at the back of the stand as these are “reserved for the sponsors”.


Reserved seating

I see the steward at the door on the third floor, explain to him that I’m not Press and that I’ve paid to get in, and he lets me through. All a bit of a pallaver but at least I’ve got to see behind the scenes at the club, rather than just going through the turnstiles (which were shut when I got there anyway).


A gentleman of The Press

The only problem is, I’m now the only person in the stand who isn’t Press, a sponsor, or a club official from either team, and I feel a bit of a tool to say the least. I now also can’t kill time in, and potentially buy something from, the club shop.

It’s an hour and a half until kickoff and I’m sat here on my todd, so I start walking round pitchside looking for things to take pictures of.

The Shay is a proper ground, and you can’t just walk round with access to everywhere. Areas are cordoned off by barriers and manned by stewards, used to dealing with big Rugby League crowds.


The tunnel, and bin bag


No Standing


Yellow steps


Floodlight and new stand construction

I take pictures of what I can, and a steward lets me get pitchside proper and escorts me there so that I can take a picture of the floodlight for Floodlight Fancy. I thank him and I’m on my way walking round taking pictures again.

I fill a decent amount of time doing this and the ground slowly starts to fill up. I feel less self-conscious, and more things start to happen.


One life one town


Fans take their seats


Non-league chips

Photogenic people take their seats, club officials inspect the pitch, players come out to warm up, and a gaggle of massively hyper little girls start to run up and down the stand steps, screaming, and singing along very very loudly to the music on the PA which has burst into life.

It’s really sunny and warm sitting directly in it, but as kick off approaches the sun goes behind the gathering clouds coming in off the moor tops and the temperature drops.


Town fans

Many of the Town fans are decked out in bright blue hats and blue and white scarves, and the Guiseley faithful start to sing and clap to warm up, in every sense of the word.

Local kids teams and the Halifax Town mascot, Freddy the Fox, escort the players and officials out and, after the customary handshakes, the game gets underway.


The teams emerge


Kick off

The first half sees both sides probing the other’s defences, but with little to test either ‘keeper.

The official FC Halifax Town website described the first half like so:

“With FC Halifax lacking zip in their offensive play, Guiseley probed the channels with Johnson gliding and hustling the make-shift centre-back pairing of Lois Maynard and Simon Ainge. With little leigh-way given by either side, the game’s best opening fell to Johnson who failed to plant a telling header at goal, as it trickled harmlessly to Matt Glennon following neat wing-play by Wayne Brooksby.

“Whilst Johnson was making a noteworthy impression on proceedings Kevin Holsgrove, a summer acquisition from Guiseley, was subjected to taunts by the contingent of away fans. As he twice shot in frustration dragging both attempts wide.

“Up the other end Johnson was becoming an increasing nuisance for Maynard and Ainge to thwart as his persistence drew a foul from Ainge. The resulting free-kick from Wayne Brooksby swirled just past Glennon’s near-post.

“Soon after Maynard tried to sheppard the ball out of play but to no avail as Johnson tenaciously nipped in and drilled a cross-cum-shot at goal.

“Josh Wilson another former Lion produced an intricate lofted through ball for Joe Ironside to latch onto, but custodian Steve Drench performed diligently as sweeper. Moments later and a ripple of applause turned to outrage from the Shaymen supporters as referee Darren Handley waved away claims for a Halifax penalty despite Holsgrove’s pass appearing to brush the arm of Adam Lockwood.”

With the first half drawing to a close, and an expected halftime score of 0-0, fans start to trickle down to the stand concourse for the toilets, food and drink. I head down to the toilet first, and hear cheering from the stands. Guiseley have scored. Typical.

“Just as the final stages of the first-half were meandering into a stalemate Johnson’s tireless application was rewarded with a goal, all be it a fortuitous one.

“Springing away from Ainge, Johnson spun and shot in one movement to see his deflected strike loop over the hapless Glennon and into to the left-hand corner.”

After buying a much-needed coffee to take the chill off, for a very reasonable £1 (I don’t sample the pies or the non-league chips), I head back up to take more pictures.
The kids from before the match are playing min five-a-side, and the fans watching cheer sportingly every time a goal is scored, but I’m slightly disappointed not to hear chants of “Sign him up”.
Freddy the Fox walks the length of the touchline, handing out sweets to the kids on the other side of the barrier, before chucking the remaining contents of his sweet bucket up into the air and heading back into the changing room for his halftime orange segments (or sports drink, whatever the case may be).
The teams come out for the second half and the match kicks off again.

“At the turn of the interval the introduction of Dan Gardner appeared to gee up his below-par team-mates as his first early touches of the ball showed the finesse which was lacking in the first-half.

“Yet Guiseley continued to look menacing on the counter-attacks with Johnson leading the line superbly.

“However Halifax almost restored parity only for the under-worked Drench to acrobatically repel a powerful Ainge header from a delightful Gardner corner-kick. But the match continued to irritate Town as possession lacked incision with chances still at a premium.

“On the other hand Guiseley were churning out opportunities as Rhys Meynall coaxed his way past debutant Sam Patterson only for his curling shot to flash beyond the far-post. Nevertheless Craig Hobson a replacement for Johnson, cannoned the ball against the post with the rebound rolling gratefully into the hands of Glennon.

“The visitors soon gave Neil Aspin’s troops another reprieve as Lockwood could only glance his free header wide of goal much to his angst. As precious minutes were beginning to evaporate for FC Halifax Town.

“Adam Smith’s marauding run ended with a sliced effort on goal, Scott McManus then stroked a delicious low ball across the six-yard box with no colleague in support.

“As fourth official Adam Burgess signalled four minutes of stoppage time a Gardner cross was hacked away by Lockwood along with a dangerous Wilson nod down with John Worthington flinging himself at the loose ball.”


With the home fans already starting to leave, to chants of “We can see you sneaking out” from the vocal Guiseley travelling support (who number 98, we are told when the attendance is announced), the players leave the pitch to sporadic and muted applause. Town fans are not happy, but Guiseley march on.
I head for the exits, take one last photo of the floodlights in full glare, then head home, once again navigating the tortuous Halifax road system.
I’d like to visit The Shay again sometime, and go to the club shop and go in through the turnstiles, but there are plenty of other grounds to visit in the meantime, not least Brighouse Town’s St Giles’ Road (very appropriate).
See Saturday afternoon at The Shay for more pictures from the trip.

The Old Shay, with speedway track

The Beatles played here…

Near Post – Are you, or do you know, a Football Club mascot?

Are you, or do you know, a Football Club mascot? If so, I’m interested in why you/they donned the furry suit and what you/they get out of it, other than getting to watch each match for free of course! If you want to be a mascot, you might like to take on-board a few pointers…

With a passion for the game of football, a love for your team, an appetite for entertaining fans of all ages, and a license to a**e about, the life of a football mascot seems pretty idyllic for any fan. However, there are a few things you should know first if you want be able to do the job.

  1. A mascot needs to have plenty of stamina to mess around in a heavy suit all day and in all weather conditions. You’re going to sweat – a lot, especially at the start and end of the season. Remember to stay hydrated and wear a high-performance deodorant. You’ll need lots of cardiovascular training to build up the endurance necessary to keep moving on matchday. Strength training is also necessary, particularly in the upper body area, as most of the weight of your costume is on your top half, especially your oversized headgear.
  2. Your role as cheerleader and club jester calls for you to have over-the-top acting skills, as you can only convey your character’s personality via gestures and actions. Use your arms to be expressive, but don’t gesture at the referee or away hands with your hands or fingers.
  3. There’s a fine line between banter and aggressive behaviour. Don’t moon the away fans when they chant about you. Also, you don’t want to get banned from grounds or arrested for assault, so don’t rugby tackle the opposition mascot to the ground, wrestle with them and rip their head off then kick it into the crowd! Remember, you’re an ambassador and family figure of fun for the club so behave like one.
  4. Equally, don’t do anything controversial in your day-to-day life out of the suit if you want to keep your mascot gig. Football Clubs don’t like the negative publicity or anything that messes with their carefully-cultivated family-friendly image. Don’t take your clothes off for photos, even for charity, launch into a Twitter tirade or get yourself into any Friday night fights!
  5. Try and be sporting when running in the annual Mascot Derby. Tripping up the other runners is considered bad form. Be a magnanimous winner or loser.
  6. If you stand for Mayor, you might want to consider the career implications and demands it will place on your time and personal resources.
  7. Don’t gain, or lose, too much weight, as you could get sacked! The suit needs to fit, and some mascots are meant to be on the rotund side.
  8. Be comfortable around kids and be friendly, but not too friendly! Conversely, if you dislike kids then don’t be a mascot. They will probably throw in the old “thumbed nose” gesture when you go to shake hands with them, so resist the temptation to give little Johnny or Joanna a clout for showing you up – the young scamps!
  9. Also, it’s probably not the best job if you’re claustrophobic, have Hyperhidrosis or a fear of fake fur (Doraphobia)!
  10. Finally, don’t take yourself too seriously. You’re going to look like a k**b – sometimes literally!