On 14th November 2015, FC Halifax Town suffered a humiliating 6-3 defeat to Braintree Town, with an immediate change of management required. Darren Kelly was sacked as a result of this loss, which led to the appointment of Jim Harvey on an initial caretaker basis. The form that FC Halifax Town have displayed since Harvey has joined the club has been nothing short of remarkable. With the club destined for relegation to the National League North, Harvey has turned fortunes around to reach the FA Trophy Final, and has given the club a fighting chance of survival.
His first five games in charge at the back of November and through December saw the club go on an unbeaten run, gaining impressive wins over Gateshead & Dover Athletic in the process. Before Harvey stepped into the shoes of Kelly, FC Halifax had were on a terrible run of five straight National League losses, but he galvanised the team immediately with a 4-1 victory versus Gateshead & a 4-2 win against Dover. A corner had most definitely been turned. The club made a decision to appoint Harvey until the end of the season on the back of this. A very wise decision it was too.
In his five months in charge, Harvey only has three league losses to his name. The defeats were to his one of his former clubs, Forest Green Rovers, as well as Braintree Town & Bromley. As I’m sure most people would agree there is no shame in losing to those opponents, who all sit in the top half of the table. It’s not just the points on the board that Harvey has managed to formulate, but he has also instilled a defensive stability to his ranks. FC Halifax Town were leaking goals left, right and centre prior to his appointment, but they have not conceded more than two goals in any League game since. This is emphasised by their recent form, having only conceded once in their last four games, including an impressive win over Altrincham with ten men to kick off the Easter weekend successfully.
Harvey has won 30 points in his time in charge from 17 games, which could be argued as potential play-off form if the results were maintained over an entire season. Wins against Grimsby Town & Lincoln City are also included in that run of form – results which back up that statement.
FC Halifax Town’s turn around in fortunes is the least that Harvey deserves after being unfairly dismissed by Morecambe after eleven years of hard work in 2006, when he was not allowed to re-take charge of his team on return from a heart attack. He was also responsible for achieving Forest Green Rovers’ highest ever finish of 8th back in 2008, as well as taking the team to the Third Round of the FA Cup. Harvey however, was not given the time to build on his foundations after his side finished in 18th the following season. He also endured a difficult time at Chester in 2009/10 as the club was on it’s way to being dissolved. For these reasons, it is great to see Harvey finally enjoying some success again.
FC Halifax Town currently find themselves outside of the relegation zone, two points ahead of Torquay United, with a game in hand also at their disposal. My belief is that Jim Harvey will certainly be able to keep his side above the drop zone, and if he is still in the job next season, he would not just be the club’s saviour, but he may be able to help restore some former glory to the club going forward. Who knows, he may also be able to pick up the FA Trophy at Wembley this May also.
Article by James Hunt.