Jim McCalliog had a curious time as manager of Halifax Town. He inherited a side struggling near the foot of the Fourth Division and hardly improved its standing during his time in charge, although the side did lift some silverware in the form of the Yorkshire & Humberside Cup. During the 1990-91 campaign, Town were involved in some remarkable games, not least the 5-2 victory over Walsall in which Tommy Graham was forced to act as stand-in keeper following facial injuries sustained by Jon Gould. Shortly into that season, Town found themselves bottom of the Fourth Division due to their inability to score in any of their first EIGHT League games. But their goal famine had been halted when McCalliog raided Carlisle United for striker Steve Norris, and he would astonish the football world by becoming top scorer in all four divisions, netting a total of 35 goals.
Two of his strikes came in an astonishing game with Scunthorpe United exactly twenty-eight years ago today, a 4-4 draw which equalled a club record, the highest scoring League draw played by the Shaymen away from home, Town having previously played out similar results in games at Workington in 1957, Notts County (1959) and Bradford (1963).
At the time, Town were on a something of a roll, unbeaten in three, though Scunthorpe must have fancied their chances as they viewed a play-off spot. The point they gained from this game actually lifted them up to seventh, their highest position to date, although they would make the play-offs by finishing eighth.
The game had practically everything, including a couple of penalties, the first of which, scored by the Iron’s Andy Flounders after 21 minutes for handball by Mark Ellis, started the scoring spree. Nick Richardson’s stunning thirty-yarder in first half injury time brought Town level and was the prelude to a second half in which the lead changed hands several times. The Shaymen scored a minute into the second period, Dave Evans heading down Billy Barr’s free-kick for Norris to score from close range (left). Scunthorpe’s Kevin Taylor equalised two minutes later from a short free-kick routine, then Glenn Humphries touched the ball home following a corner in the 57th minute to restore the home side’s advantage. Norris was then upended for a penalty, which he converted in the 67th minute to level the scores at 3-3, though future Shay boss Mark Lillis must have thought he’d won the game for the Iron when he struck with a brilliant diving header with just four minutes remaining. But the Shaymen weren’t finished, and it was Ellis who rounded off the scoring when he converted Richardson’s low right wing cross. Teams;
Scunthorpe United: Musselwhite, Longden, Lillis, Ward (Cotton 79 mins), Hicks, Humphries, Joyce, Hamilton, Daws, Flounders, Taylor.
Halifax Town: Whitehead, P Fleming, Barr, Evans, C Fleming, Gore, Ellis, Norris, Cooper, Richardson, Martin.
Referee: I Hemley (Ampthill).
Born in Whitwick on this day in 1889 was Aubrey Sharp, a celebrated Leicestershire cricketer who represented Halifax Town in their first Midland League season in 1912-13. Educated at Repton, Sharp made his debut for Leicestershire in 1908 and served them as an amateur until 1935. A right-handed middle-order batsman, he was famed for scoring 216 on 31 July 1911 when he and Gustavus Fowke put on a then club record 262 for the sixth wicket against Derbyshire at Chesterfield. A qualified solicitor, Sharp arrived at Halifax Town in September 1912 and featured in the half-back line in a side which enjoyed a fine run in the FA Cup, one that ended in 4-2 defeat at Queen’s Park Rangers in the first round. Sharp served the club well over the course of that season before returning to his first love of cricket, reappearing in a Town shirt just once more for their FA Cup tie at Rothwell in November 1913. Pre-war he had served a number of years in the gunnery section of the territorial force but volunteered his services at the outbreak of the First World War. So swift, in fact, was his response that he left Leicestershire a batsmen short in their match with Northamptonshire on 5 August 1914. Wounded whilst serving with the 5th Leicestershire Regiment, he resumed playing cricket when hostilities had ceased and became captain of Leicestershire in 1921, heading the batting figures that summer with 814 runs. His first-class career was ended by a broken leg sustained in 1935 but Sharp continued to make non-first-class appearances in wartime county games up to 1945. He died on 15 February 1973 as a result of a car accident.
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