Rough guide to... Halifax Town

Cod Almighty | Article

by Tony Butcher

9 January 2022

Romarkable! Mr Tony Butcher isn't mesmerised by woolly thinking way out West in the land of the Shaymen

How are you?

Top of the world, Ma, top of the world. Hats on the side of their heads this merry morn' and feeling groovy

Medium time, no see?

Until last week we'd not seen each other since that waste of time in Wembley, the FA Trophy hangover lost weekend.

We both left this benighted division that day by different exits and here we are again, back together in purgatory. But while we're mumbling and stumbling they're singing the songs that remind them of the good times, and songs that remind them of the best times.

How are you feeling?

They're having a Wild time and starting to dream the impossible dream. How could they not, everything's coming up white roses these days.

Where are you from?


Halifax be Ye Olde Englishe for an area of coarse grass in the nook of land, which rather neatly sums up the charms of the charmingly renovated Shay showground. Oh no, don't fall for the myth that they are named after halig feax meaning holy hair. We only deal in facts about Halifax.

It be as old as the hills, with a proud history of people and things. Hello and thank you for: John Noakes, various Pickles, wrestling's Big Daddy, all Worthingtons ever, and not forgetting Mr Percy Shaw and his cat's eyes, Don Lang (but not the Furious Five), and of course, John Kettley who was a weatherman.

They do need to apologise for the lead singers of Uriah Heep and the Thompson Twins, though.

I bet you didn't know William Herschel was the first organist at the local minster. He didn't find Uranus in Halifax. Well, it's a quiet place, full of nice people; you won't find that sort of thing round there.

It isn't all woolly thinking in this part of West Yorkshire either. Praise be to John and Violet Mackintosh who opened a toffee shop down Kings Cross Lane. We have them to thank for Christmas, or at least tins of Quality Street.

Early for the game? Why not stroll around Eureka! The National Children's Museum which is at the railway station.

Ultimately it's a rugby league town, but even then they are a giant fallen on hard times. Now the Shay is rising from a guilty past as the present club is only 14-years old, another one of them phoenixes rising from the ashes of financial failure. How, what, where and why? The usual.

The original Halifax formed in 1911 and was a league club of absolutely no distinction whatsoever. They once finished second in the old Third Division North way back in 1935, and third in the old Third Division in 1971. That's about as good as it got, eventually creeping out of the League in 1993 and being kicked out of the Conference in 2008 after going bust. But they wouldn't let it lie there, formed a new club, bought Jamie Vardy, sold Jamie Vardy, got back to the Bananarama in 2013, left it again in 2016, and got back again again straight away.

And here we are again, back to square one

You must be so missing...

Well, it may be those hazy, crazy salad days of 1935 and 1971, but we all know it's 5 January 1980, third round of the Cup and Malcolm Allison's moneybags Man City mugged 1-0 on a mudheap.

How did they do that? Ah, canny gafferman George Kirby took up the offer of help from Romark, a flamboyantly vengeful hypnotist.

Why? Romark had it in for Big Mal as he believed he was owed a tenner. He'd approached Big Lawrie (hey kids, all managers were big in the seventies) before Crystal Palace's 1976 FA Cup semi-final against Southampton, cursing Palace and mesmerising McMenemy by levitating a youth teamer in his office.

What a CV of conning this cut-price comb-over Uri Geller had. As a publicity stunt he boasted that he could drive a car blindfold from Ilford to London using his psychic ability alone. After 20 yards this epic voyage ended when he drove into the back of a police van.

Romark also had a ridiculous encounter with Muhammad Ali a month later when the Louisville Lip was defending his world heavyweight title against rough but duff Halifax-born slugger Richard Dunn. Dunn's camp had flown Romark to Germany, not realising the deluded illusionist had recently had a stroke which left him with one side of his face sagging.

Romark encountered Ali in the corridor of his hotel and seized the day, giving a wide-eyed stare and intoning "You are doomed to defeat tonight. Dooooooomed!" Ali just fell to his knees, laughing uncontrollably. Well you would, wouldn't you. Dunn said that Romark's contribution to his title challenge was to tuck him in bed and tell him the story of Cinderella.

Oh, and how did he help Halifax's heroes? Centre-half Dave Smith later recalled: "I'm sat there with this guy called Romark, and he was saying 'You will go to sleep now, John Smith, and then you'll overcome the power of Manchester City. You will play the greatest game of your life, John Smith. When I count to three, you'll wake up again.'"

And they say football is more professional these days.

Pre-Match factfile


Bloomin' marvellous. In a purple patch and doggedly defending Top Dog status. They last lost in the league way back in late November. So it's about time they sagged and had a sad sleep.

Last time

Last week you mean? C'mon, you can't have forgotten already. We got in their face and were totally ace.


Big Daddy Bradbury's wrestling would be a danger to home safety if the referees only had eyes to see. We'll be watching out for Slew and Warburton, quick, slick, with a trick or two and in fine nick.

Ex-Town factor

That infamous murderer John Christie was born in Halifax and "our" John Hurt played Timothy Evans, his tenant and innocent dupe, in 10 Rillington Place.

Oh, you mean football. Well, as we all know, Billy Waters' granny is a Town season ticket holder and look, there's Luke Summerfield sitting and sighing on their bench! We haven't got any of their old cast-offs, has-beens or never-weres.

Rivalometer – 4.252

They may be from Yorkshire but they don't really appear on the rage radar. We've always rather shrugged at the thought of Shaymen, while we've been just an occasional day trip for fish and chips for them.

Up to the 1990s they were generally our genial whipping boys but since their rise and our fall in this century we've only won two out of nine. They do love us turning up and crumpling – we do spoil them at the Shay.