(FC Halifax Town)
Address: Shay Syke,
Capacity: 10,401 (Currently) (5,108 Seated)
A name that quite literally carries centuries of history.
The stadium currently is known as the MBi Shay Stadium for sponsorship reasons. First opened in 1921, the Shay name derives from the old English word ‘shaw’ meaning a small wood. It is in reference to the property which the stadium was eventually built on.
The site’s Shay name can be traced back as far as the 1460s, and has had notable owners over the centuries since. The Shay was used during the First World War to practice trench digging, and by 1920 there were rumours that it would be transformed into a football ground. The board of Halifax Town Association Football Club would approach the Shay’s owners, and it was accepted.
Halifax Town had formed in 1911 and previously played at Sandhall Lane and Exley. The club would be elected into the Football League in 1921, becoming founding members of the Division Three North for the 1921-22 season. The Shay was converted in a football ground in time for this debut season, and hosted its first game on 3rd September 1921, a 5-0 win for Halifax Town over Darlington.
The Shay’s capacity has reduced significantly over the years as new safety measures have had to be put in place. The Bradford City stadium fire in 1985 and the subsequent release of the Popplewell Report saw the then-16,500 capacity stadium have to be almost completely closed. Just the seating for around 1,700 people was left in use until safety work could be carried out.
Halifax Town went into liquidation in 2008, and in their place came FC Halifax Town who began life three tiers below where the original Halifax Town had been playing. The Shaymen have been based here ever since.
The Shay was used for speedway events during the early 1950s, and for a 21-year period between 1965 and 1986 by the Halifax Dukes.
A rugby league side called the Halifax Panthers have been playing games here since 1998, and the Huddersfield Giants played three games here in 2011 whilst their own Kirklees Stadium in Huddersfield had work done on its pitch.
A Rugby League World Cup game was also held here in 2013, which saw Tonga beat Italy 16-0.
Location and Getting There
The Shay is surrounded by trees on its four sides and is located within 0.5 miles south of Halifax Town Centre. Beacon Hill is around 0.6 miles away to the northeast, the River Calder is 1.3 miles away to the south, and the Albert Reservoir is around 1.4 miles away to the northwest.
Coming to the Shay by car is certainly possible.
There is a car park around the ground’s immediate vicinity, but spaces are limited and number and not cheap to park at.
It should be possible though to find free street parking nearby if you arrive early. It can be a fair distance to walk however if you park too far away. Ensure that you are legally allowed to park where you find and do not block the drives of any residents.
Halifax Railway Station, served by northern rail and Grand Central, is less than 0.5 miles northeast of the Shay, and the walk from here takes around 10 minutes along first Church Street, onto South Parade, briefly along Hunger Hill after a roundabout, and then left to the outside of the stadium.
With a fairly simple route and a good location nearby, coming to the Shay by train is something I would certainly recommend doing.
Outside the Stadium
Heading to the Shay on the route from Halifax Station will first bring you to the ground’s northeast corner.
Continuing along the road, which is actually one-way in the opposite direction for vehicles, brings you to the East Stand.
Considered the Main Stand at the Shay, it has an exterior that consists of a lighter-coloured brickwork base, with large silver and blue panels and rows of windows higher up, and cantilever at the top. A brick structure protrudes out of the centre of this exterior, housing a glass façade that leads to the Main Entrance for Hospitality and Club Offices inside. To the right of this Main Entrance is a Club Shop for the Halifax Panthers, and to the left of this Main Entrance is the Stadium Supporters Bar.
Turnstiles for the East Stand itself can be found along the brickwork base towards either end of the exterior.
You may notice that the set of turnstiles near to the ground’s northeast corner are marked for Away Supporters. These turnstiles are in use for the away crowd when the following is expected to be smaller and in use for the home crowd when the following is expected to be larger.
The main bulk of the Shay’s car parking spaces are out beyond the East Stand’s exterior.
The whole car park at the Shay operates a one-way system. Vehicles enter the stadium’s vicinity from off Shaw Hill, a little away from the ground’s southeast corner, and then follow the one-way route out beyond the northern end of the stadium and onto Hunger Hill.
Continuing round in a clockwise direction from the East Stand brings you to the South Stand.
It has an exterior similar to its adjacent neighbour, using a lighter-coloured brickwork base with light blue corrugated iron higher up and cantilever at the top. Access round to this side of the Shay is restricted to only those with tickets here, however.
There is a 5-a-side court, available to hire, located a little away from the southeast corner, and the South Stand turnstiles are at the foot of this. Entering through these allows you to head past the 5-a-side court and up to the South Stand exterior itself, which holds a bar within its concourse and catering facilities outside.
The Shay’s West Stand is known as the Skircoat Stand as it has Skircoat Road (A629) running along behind.
With a row of tall trees directly behind its exterior, it is not possible to walk alongside this stand, and you cannot access it from the southern end of the stadium.
The turnstiles for the Skircoat Stand are based a little away from the northwest corner, at the end of a row of car parking spaces and next door to a multi-storey car park. You are only able to reach these turnstiles from off Hunger Hill.
Should you find yourself near the South Stand and needing to reach the Skircoat Stand turnstiles, you will need to head up past the entire East Stand, up the one-way straight that leads to Hunger Hill, turn left and head past the multi-storey car park, then turn left again and head down the road that leads to the turnstiles.
The multi-storey car park and a row of tall trees in turn limit how much of the North Stand is accessible from outside. You will only be able to see part of the stand’s blue corrugated iron and cantilever roof as a result.
The turnstiles for this side of the stadium can be found in next to the East Stand in the northeast corner.
Inside the Stadium
The East Stand consists of a single tier of entirely blue seating.
To the right of centre is a large flat platform for disabled supporters to use, and there is also disabled supporter seating right down at the front. The Shay’s dugouts and tunnel are based in the middle and by the pitch, with the changing rooms located inside. Executive Boxes and Hospitality Suites are in place up behind the back row, and the area holding the matchday camera can also be found here.
Your view from anywhere inside the East Stand is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above.
There is a large windshield in place by the northeast corner which provides protection to most of the rows inside the stand. The rows further forward however have just a small wall in place to offer protection from the side. The opposite end of the East Stand has a maze of steel in place for construction work that was never completed. The steelwork and a small wall provides protection for those sat at this end.
The South Stand consists of a single tier of standing terrace that has several rows of metal bars running across it for fans to lean on. There are notably large entrances which lead from the concourse positioned here along the front of the terraced area.
Your view from anywhere inside the South Stand is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above.
A windshield by the ground’s southeast corner provides protection to the rows further back, with the rows further forward having just a small wall in place to offer protection from this side. The opposite end of the South Stand does not have a windshield in however and is much more exposed. The nearby trees can help with protection from any wind or rain here.
The Skircoat Stand is a single tier of blue seating that contains the letters HBS spelt out in white across some of the blocks.
The stand does not run along the whole length of the pitch, with the space either side taken up by grass banks and a brick building in the southwest corner which has a staircase leading down to it.
Supporting pillars come down regularly along the front and ends of the stand’s roof, which once belonged to the Hyde Road Ground, a former home of Manchester City. Your view is likely to be restricted somewhat as a result, with the best views coming from the very front row seats that are in the spaces between each pillar.
Both ends of the Skircoat Stand are left open with no windshields in place to offer protection.
The North Stand consists of a single tier of standing terrace that has several rows of metal bars running across it for fans to lean on. Unlike the South Stand opposite, there are no large entrances in place along the front.
Your view from anywhere inside the North Stand is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above.
Windshields are in place at either end, but they only provide protection to the rows further back. The rows further forward have nothing in place for protection apart from the trees a short distance away.
The North Stand is typically left closed on a matchday and only opened when the very largest crowds are expected.
The location of away fans at the Shay depends on the size of the allocation.
Typical away crowds of between 250 and 1,450 are housed in the Skircoat Stand on the western side of the pitch. This is a single tier of seating which does have restricted views by supporting pillars along the front and sides. Your best view as a result is likely to come from being sat right down at the front in the space between each pillar.
The turnstiles for the Skircoat Stand are away from the rest at the Shay. You can find them down the end of a row of car parking spaces from off Hunger Hill, next to a multi-storey car park.
The smallest of away crowds (around 250 or below) are given a couple of blocks at the northern end of the East Stand. This is a single tier of entirely blue seating that offers perfectly clear views from every seat and has a windshield at the end that best protects the rows further back. Large sheets are used to segregate this away section from any home supporters sat elsewhere in the East Stand.
When the very largest of away crowds are expected, the blocks in the East Stand are made available and the entire North Stand is also opened to away supporters.
The North Stand is a single tier of standing terrace that has rows of metal bars along it for fans to lean on, perfectly clear views from everywhere inside, and windshields at either end that provide protection to the rows further back.
The turnstiles for the North Stand are next to the East Stand turnstiles, in the stadium’s northeast corner.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include:
-The Supporters Club at the Shay itself (Away Supporters Welcome)
-The Barum Top Inn (17 Rawson Street, HX1 1NX) (A JD Wetherspoon, Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located in more central Halifax)
-The Courtyard Halifax (5 Ward's End, HX1 1BX) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located in more central Halifax)
-The Percy Shaw (Broad Street, HX1 1YA) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located in more central Halifax)
-The Royal Oak (3 Clare Road, HX1 2HX)
-The Shears Inn (1 Paris Gate, Boys Lane Town Centre, HX3 9EZ) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located southeast of the Shay)
-The Three Pigeons (1 Sun Fold, South Parade, HX1 2LX) (Home and Away Supporters) (Located north of the Shay)
The history of the Shay site dates back centuries, and in modern times it has become a very decent football ground. Views from three of its four sides are excellent, and with talk about a renovation of its West Stand coming in the future, the Shay could well have first-class views from all sides.
It is a little tricky to navigate around, with a one-way route alongside its exterior for vehicles and one set of turnstiles being located a distance away from the rest.
With Halifax Station located close by however, this is a stadium you can certainly reach by public transport, and one that should provide an enjoyable matchday experience when you get there.