By Luke Ramsden
In 105 years of football being played in Halifax, not once have the Shaymen faithful had the opportunity to see their club play at the national stadium.
This unwanted statistic will finally come to an end this Sunday May 22nd when FC Halifax Town face newly crowned playoff winners Grimsby Town at Wembley in the FA Trophy Final.
This will be a day over a century in the making that Town fans will enjoy and cherish as a day out that so many generations have missed out on down the years.
It's a decade since the last time Halifax Town played in a showpiece final. A day most Town fans won't forget for the wrong reasons when back in 05-06, Chris Wilder took his unfancied side to The Walkers Stadium in the Football Conference Playoff Final. In a lovely display of irony from the footballing fates, this just so happened to be one year before the new Wembley was complete and so a grand day out at the home of football was not to be. We had Leicester instead.
On that day it was to end in disappointment as an extra time Ryan Green cross (sorry 'goal'... not at all still bitter) sunk the Shaymen. Two years later and Halifax Town were out of business and back to the bottom of the football pyramid.
The team that dealt that late hammer blow was Hereford United and in another ironic twist of fate, it's The Bulls who will act as The Shaymen's warm-up act on Sunday as they play Morpeth in the FA Vase final earlier on the same day.
Hereford have gone through their own bankruptcy odyssey in the decade that has past and it's hard to look past the nice piece of cursed symmetry that comes from a day 10 years ago that formed the pivot point of ten years of ups and downs for the clubs involved.
If you've been following FCHT and this blog at all this season, you'll know it's been one with more lows than highs.
An early season slump clouded by the fading embers of Neil Aspin's reign were washed out by the arrival of disastrous Darren Kelly and a run at the helm that left the club ten points adrift of safety and looking down the barrel of early season demotion. The New Year brought new optimism as Jim Harvey was appointed until the end of the season. The former Morecambe boss finally instilled some defensive solidity and organisation that saw the team climb out of the relegation zone and towards safety. By scoring an unlikely win away at Forest Green on the penultimate day of the season, this meant a positive result at home to Macclesfield would be enough to complete the miracle. However, it wasn't to be. A 1-1 draw coupled with a Guiseley's 4-3 win vs Torquay meant Town's West Yorkshire rivals were spared and The Shaymen's three-year stay back at the top table of non-league was prematurely ended.
The inquest as to why this happened and what's to come in the future is another story for another day. What remains for now is one last chance for redemption at Wembley. We'd have loved to go into this momentous game on a more positive note but football in Halifax is rarely perfect.
Shayman fans just need to breath in the experience. More than 10,000 are expected to make up the Halifax exodus in the travelling Blue Army for what will be a fantastic day out on Non-League Finals Day. Win or lose, Town fans will know this is an opportunity that has not been handed out before to supporters of generations past and finally after over 100 years - The Shaymen are going to Wembley.
Luke Ramsden has followed The Shaymen in both their incarnations for over 15 years. Should FCHT win at Wembley, he has a semi-realistic chance of convincing his pregnant wife to call their soon-to-arrive son Shay. Follow @FCHalifaxTown on Twitter for unofficial fanfeed on #FCHT.