The Shay was built and opened as a football stadium in 1921 and now houses National League’s FC Halifax Town. The ground is located on the south side of Halifax, around a quarter of a mile away from the centre, and is also the home of Halifax’s rugby league club.
Its current maximum capacity stands at 10,401, 5,108 of which are seated, and it has a pitch that measures 110 by 76 yards. The surface of the field is covered with grass and there is no running track surrounding it.
The record attendance of 36,885 supporters at the Shay was set on 14 February 1953 when Halifax played Tottenham Hotspur in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Needless to say, the Shay’s history is quite vast and, unsurprisingly, quite convoluted as well. In fact, the very first references to the name Shay can be traced all the way back to the 15th century and the Brodley family. Back then, even though it was far from a football pitch, the Shay was still one of the finest estates in Halifax.
Still, it wouldn’t be until the 1900s that the first talk of possibly converting the area into a football pitch was discussed. On 16 October 1920, the work had officially started as timber was delivered to the Shay and an appeal was made to the public, asking for workers who might be able to help erect the ground.
On 7 December, the grass was laid and the Shay was ready to be officially opened. Halifax Town were formed back in 1911 and before settling at their new home, they had played their football over at Sandhall Lane and then Exley after that but neither of those venues were suitable for them.
In March 1921, with their new stadium erected, Halifax were indeed elected to the Football League, even becoming one of the founding members of the Division Three North. The very first Football League game at the Shay arrived on 3 September when Halifax hosted and beat Darlington 5-0 in front of 10,000 fans.
Speaking of the supporters, on 14 February 1953 Halifax played Tottenham Hotspur at the Shay and recorded the stadium’s highest ever attendance of 36,885 – a figure unlikely to ever be beaten. Back in the early days of the ground, it could actually hold around 40,000 people but that subsequently dwindled due to safety reasons.
The Shay’s future and that of the club was in danger in the 1980s when the club had some serious financial issues. With the Calderdale Council owning the lease to the ground, which they still do to this day, it was up to them to save them from doom. But the Council rejected numerous proposals to sell and even to relocate the club to a different stadium.
In the end, however, they decided to buy back the lease on the 11-acre stadium worth about £150,000, take control of Halifax Town until the start 1987/88 season, sack the board and ultimately save the club. Even with all that trouble, Halifax Town went into liquidation in 2008 and were replaced by FC Halifax Town, albeit three tiers below the original club.
In modern days, the Shay has had numerous redevelopments and is a much more modern facility but also more than just a football ground too. Since 1998, it has housed Halifax’s rugby club as well.
All tickets to watch FC Halifax Town play at the Shay can be found and purchased on the club’s official website. An adult ticket costs £20 while other age groups and concessions can buy theirs for a cheaper price.
FC Halifax Town also offer a season tickets scheme and more information can be found on the aforementioned website.
https://fchalifaxtown.com/ – Official website of FC Halifax Town