Once-mighty Halifax on edge of the precipice

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The Independent Online

Amid the would-be upwardly mobile on National League finals day at Widnes today, there is a club threatened by a dramatic fall from grace.

A little more than a year ago, Halifax were still in Super League; if they lose to York this afternoon they will drop into National League Two, playing the likes of Gateshead and the London Skolars. "It is unthinkable," says the club's football manager, the former Great Britain forward Paul Dixon. "But we've got ourselves into this situation and we've got to get ourselves out."

But how did it come to this? Relegation from Super League without a single point was bad enough, but their then coach, Tony Anderson, was confident that he had the players to regroup in NL1.

Instead, they plunged almost to the foot of that table as well; Anderson was sacked and Anthony Farrell brought in to try to arrest the decline. He could not prevent them finishing next to bottom, which is how they come to be playing York, second in NL2, today, with one place in the higher division up for grabs.

If Halifax are threatened by unprecedented decline, then York's progress has been equally remarkable. Two and a half years ago, they went bust and their rebirth has seen them become an altogether sturdier organisation.

The match is the middle course in a triple header, starting with Coventry Bears against Warrington-Woolston in the NL3 Grand Final and ending with Leigh playing Whitehaven for a place in Super League, where they will hope to do rather better than Halifax last season.