Sunniest day of the years so far as I arrived at Halifax Station in the beautiful Calder Valley and immediately smelled the aroma from the NESTLE chocolate factory next door.
I walked the 500 metres down South Parade past The Pump Room pub and The Three Pigeons, with happy customers sitting, chatting and drinking at the outside tables. The much renovated Shay Stadium is the pride of the city and the best in the league, with a huge new main stand with restaurant and meeting rooms. www.halifaxafc.co.uk
The football club used to be in the Football League but has had dark financial crises after crises and is newly reformed and called FC Halifax Town and they share it with the Rugby League club who play in the second tier and are reigning Northern Rail Champions. They will host a RL World Cup match Italy v Tonga in November.
The visiters were Altrincham FC from Greater Manchester, a short light rail journey past Old Trafford, and where Man Utd reserve team plays at their home stadium. Today was promotion chasing stuff. Chester FC have won the Blue Square Bet Northern division by a mile and will play in the Premier Division next season after going bust not long agao, the tier below the Football League Div II.
Halifax and Alty are 2 of 5 teams chasing the play-off spots and it turned out to be a humdinger of a contest. I arrived an hour early and on the pitch the home goalie Matty Glennon was singing 'Bring Me Sunshine With My Smile', an iconoic Morecambe & Wise tune, as he was warming up.
I sat on the far side stand with Brian Flynn, media officer and golden voice of Radio Robin, and his two colleagues. Alty were on the backfoot for half an hour from the Blue clad Shaymen, who opened the scoring after 23 minutes from Alex Titchiner. Young Duncan Watmore, a just turned 19 year old who is a Manchester University student, brought the visitors back into the game and had a hand in all four of his team's goals.
He gave an easy tap-in for league and club top scorer Damien Reeves in the 33rd minute and then set up Simon Richman for a 40th minute lead. Reeves scored 44 goals last season and is only a few behind so far this term.
However, The Shaymen struck twice in the next five minutes, through Scott McManus and Titchiner again for a 3-2 lead at the half. After seeing the radio lads warm up with hot tea and Mars bars and an extra Walkers crisps packet I gave to Brian, I nipped behind the end stand to the burger bar for a piping hot cup of vegetable soup. 'We don't accept £50 notes' the sign said. No chance.
The home side have a big back log of postponed fixtures,(12 in a month), including two this mid week. They have the stingiest defence in the league and Glennan boasts 17 clean sheets but NOT ANY MORE. Richman from Watmore after 56 minutes and the winner from Reeves at 69 minutes gave us a titantic rear guard battle for the 3 points. Final Score Altrincham 4 v FC Halifax Town 3 with Alty up to fourth and a twice postponed visit over The Pennines again to Guiseley on Thursday.
The 200 plus vocal Alty fans folded up their flags and banners and went home estatic... as so they should.