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In Neil We Trust....

News broke today that Neil Aspin had been relieved of his job as manager of FC Halifax Town.

6 years on, he has taken the team from the depths of the Unibond North up 3 leagues to the Conference, or Vanarama National League as it is now known, playing some fantastic attacking football on the way, backed up by a defence so mean it made Ebenezer Scrooge look like a philanthropist.

6 years, where we have had some fantastic players and characters: Jamie Vardy, Lee Gregory, Liam Hogan, Mark Roberts, James Dean, Danny Holland, Danny Lowe, Tom Baker...the list goes on.

Some great times, a period where we had been winners rather than the losers us supporters of 40-odd years were more attuned to. Neil Aspin turned the club into serial winners and achievers.

But, sadly, it couldn't be maintained. Once we got back to the Conference, once Lee Gregory had been sold to Millwall, it changed. A great finish in 2013-14 saw the team finish 5th and make the play-offs, and 2014-15 ended in a reasonable 9th-placed finish.

However, the rot had already set in. A fantastic start of 5 wins out of 5 at the start of last season provided a buffer, but in truth the season imploded when we lost at home to Wrexham in the FA Trophy, not helped by some questionable team selection. The ability to win deserted the team and they limped over the line. The team had lost its spirit.

A lot of experienced players disappeared during the close season: Marc Roberts and Matty Pearson into the Football League, Lois Maynard and Will Hatfield to fellow Conference teams, Danny Schofield into the Conference North, for example.

The recruitment drive for 2015-16 brought some great prospects to the club: Josh McDonald, Connor Hughes, Sean Tuton. But some of the experienced ones like Andy Bishop and Hamsi Benscheriff did not anywhere approach the quality of players we had lost. And sadly as Alan Hansen famously said "you don't win anything with kids".

So 10 games, 1 win, 5 points. Going back to last season, 2 wins in 30. Shocking figures, and finally the board acted today and did what we had been saying for months.

Sad, because we've had some fantastic times in the last 6 years. Sad, because the manager did a fantastic, inspiring job for most of those years. Unfortunately though, as things didn't work out, the bold decisions went to be replaced by indecision, poor team selection and tactics, fear, undue loyalty to indifferent players, and a reluctance to try something different. It became very frustrating to be a supporter.

It is sad, because Neil Aspin brought hope and delivered success to a previously unsuccessful club. But it had become obvious that, possibly since turning full time almost a year ago, the job had become a millstone and an inertia had set in that transferred itself to the pitch.

'In Neil We Trust' was written on a supporters' flag that was displayed at most games home and away. Unfortunately, that trust was lost at The Shay by a lot of people, but hopefully, millstone removed, he will be able to flourish with another challenge.

Despite the recent troubles, though, let's not forget we've had some great years. I wish him well....


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