If FC Halifax Town manager Billy Heath had any thoughts of easing into his new role at the Shay then it’s safe to say they were immediately dismissed.




It’s six weeks since Heath chose to leave his former club North Ferriby United to take over at the newly-crowned FA Trophy winners.

And since taking over from Jim Harvey, he has been busy negotiating with existing members of his squad and bringing in new players.

There is a familiarity about the new additions.

Heath raided his old club for the likes of striker Tom Denton (pictured below right) and left back Josh Wilde, whilst former Guiseley goalkeeper Steven Drench and Altrincham midfielder Jordan Sinnott have also completed moves to the Shay.

A number of the club’s Wembley heroes have committed to the cause for the new season as well, as the club looks to bounce back to non-league’s top tier at the first attempt.heath denton

However, not all of the Shaymen’s players from their historic FA Trophy Final win have stayed with the club.

Full back James Bolton and on-loan keeper Sam Johnson have now joined Gateshead and defender Hamza Bencherif completed a move to Wrexham earlier in the summer.

Those moves left Heath with the task of rebuilding the Shaymen squad and he believes they are well on their way to achieving that task after what he called “a productive summer”

He said “It has been hectic and we haven’t really had a break.

“A lot of players went out from the squad last season and they had to be replaced, we have done that really well I think.

“We have signed the players that we aimed for, ones that we know well, they are the right players for this club and by that I mean they have the right mindset to play for this club.

“It has been a productive summer, it needed to be but we are pleased with what has been done so far and I don’t think we are done yet”

And the work isn’t finished quite yet.

The former Bridlington Town boss revealed that there could be as many as three more new additions in the near future.

“There are two deals ongoing and maybe a third could start.

“One we hope will be completed very quickly, maybe in the next twenty four hours or so and the other one may take a bit longer.

“I am hopeful both players will come in by the end of next week and I think the third one would be a bit of a bonus”

heath halifax trophyTown found themselves in a strange position at the end of last season.

The negativity surrounding their gut-wrenching relegation into the National League North was tempered by their FA Trophy Final win.

That left Heath having to sell a recently relegated club, albeit one with Wembley success fresh in the mind, to potential new signings.

However, he believes that the club’s stature and their record of helping players get into the Football League has made it easier to attract new signings.

“We were concerned how players would view us having just been relegated.

“But it’s a big club in non-league terms, we didn’t have to sell it, it has been easy.

“Add in the fact we are Trophy holders now and that is a big positive, there is still a buzz around the place.

“We have a reputation of getting players into the league, players like (Marc) Roberts (pictured below right), (Shaun) Tuton and , of course, (Jamie) Vardy.

“That reputation attracts scouts and that helps, it has made it easier bringing players in”

It has been a long-held target of the Shaymen to achieve Football League status, a target that seems a little more distant given last season’s relegation.

And for Heath it is a target that he is putting to the back of his mind for now, as he focuses on the short-term and getting the club back into the National League this season.

He said “The chairman here has always targeted the Football League.

“That has proved difficult, maybe more than they thought it would be.

“As a manager, my mind is working more short-term for now. You have to do that and we
heath roberts are targeting promotion.

“We have to make sure we get back into the National League at the first attempt”

A tough task lies in wait for Heath and his new squad, with the National League North looking stronger than ever.

Non-League stalwarts Kidderminster Harriers and Altrincham were both relegated with the Shaymen last season and will also be looking to bounce back.

Coming up into the division are the upwardly mobile and ambitious Darlington and Salford City.

With the likes of established National League North clubs AFC Fylde, Chorley, Nuneaton Town and Stockport County already in the division, you can see why Heath described the challenge ahead as “a tough task”.

“I think it is the strongest I have seen this division and arguably the strongest it has ever been at this level.

“Normally you have two strong sides in the division but this time you could name eight to ten teams, maybe more, thinking we are strong, we are capable, we can get promotion.

“We face a tough task, there are some top players in the division but I know we are ready to take it on”

And if they are successful maybe then Heath can earn himself a well-deserved rest.

Interview: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)

Images: www.actionimages.com


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