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The Conference Years: Halifax Town

25 May 2014

Remembering where we once were.

Doncaster Rovers and Halifax Town had not been paired together since the early nineties, other than in a television documentary named ‘Trading Places’, which focussed on Rovers’ demise out of the football league and The Shaymen’s rise out of non-league towards the turn of the century.

As the title of the programme suggested, it was indeed the West Yorkshire side who replaced the South Yorkshire side in the fourth tier in 1998.

Rivalries resumed – in a league fixture – in the 02/03 season at The Shay, where the hosts inflicted the first loss of the season on Dave Penney’s Rovers.

Phil Clarkson’s 40th minute opener was levelled on the stroke of half time by Rovers’ prolific forward Paul Barnes.

Dean Barrick’s second half own goal ensured that the majority of the 3,000 in attendance went home happy, however.

A 0-0 draw in the return fixture at Belle Vue a matter of days before Christmas wasn’t too interesting – barring the red card given to the visitor’s Shaun Garnett – however the subsequent events to Halifax’s football club, arguably are.

Chris Wilder’s men failed to return to the Football League after they were beaten by Hereford in the Conference play-off final.

Having been placed in to administration, the future of the club was thrown in to sever doubt when they were relegated three divisions to the Northern Premier League Division One North (eighth tier) amid heavy debt.

They were, consequently wound up after nearly 100 years in existence, but – to some extent – fortunately reformed in 2008 as FC Halifax Town.

The phoenix club retained the league placing however, as well as their Shay Stadium.

Back to back promotions followed for ‘Fax and they shot up the leagues, in large part to the goals of Jamie Vardy – now of Leicester City.

A couple of strong seasons in the Conference North (including a televised game against Charlton Athletic in the FA Cup)  resulted in a finish in the play-offs on both occasions where they were defeated firstly by Gainsborough, but then beat Brackley to return to the top level of non-league for the 13/14 season.

Neil Aspin’s men finished in the Conference play-offs last term but lost in the semi-final to eventual winners Cambridge United 2-1 on aggregate.

*Tuesday 14th January 2003 - Paul Green lays off the ball at The Shay in an FA Trophy game. Dave Penney's men were thumped 4-1 on a miserable night in West Yorkshire*

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