Halifax aim for upset against Charlton at The Shay

The Shay
The Shay's East Stand was completed in 2010, taking the capacity to 10,000

As League One leaders, Charlton are the highest-ranked side involved in FA Cup first round action this weekend.

But the Addicks have good cause to fear their televised trip to The Shay to face FC Halifax Town on Sunday.

The live TV cameras witnessed Charlton's 1-0 exit at another Blue Square Bet North side Northwich in 2009 - and Halifax hope that history might be repeated.

"There's always Cup shocks, so why not at Halifax? We'll go in with a positive attitude," director Bob Ham told BBC Radio Leeds.

In FA Cup terms, The Shay is most famous for the old Halifax Town's 1-0 win over Malcolm Allison's Manchester City in 1980, when Paul Hendrie - father of former Aston Villa midfielder Lee - fired the only goal to help the Division Four side reach the fourth round.

That was not the Shaymen's best Cup run, although only the regenerated Yorkshire club's most senior citizens will recall them putting out Ashton United (after a replay), Southport, Cardiff City and Stoke on the way to a 3-0 fifth round exit to Spurs, in front of a record 36,885 gate, in 1953.

These days, The Shay's capacity is limited to just 10,000. But, as Halifax attempt to battle their way back to the Football League following relegation in 2002, then liquidation in 2008, Sunday's high-profile clash with Chris Powell's Charlton is a chance for Neil Aspin's side to grab the limelight.

Halifax, 12th in Blue Square Bet North, are unfancied against a Charlton side who have lost just once in 17 games this season to go five points clear at the top. But the Shaymen are delighted simply by the glare of publicity.

"Apart from the two Sheffield sides or Bradford, to play the team top of League One, we could not have wished for a better draw," said 69-year-old Ham, scorer of 156 goals in 456 league games in a 15-year career chiefly with Preston, Rotherham and both Bradford clubs.

"We said, right from the preliminary rounds, wouldn't it be nice to get to the first round and draw a big side?

"And having it televised is the icing on the cake.

"Nationwide, it makes people realise we're in existence. The Cup is all about little clubs trying to move up the ladder and it can only be good for us and the town.

"We took over when the club was at its lowest ebb. When we got thrown out of the Conference and reformed, we were worried about what standard the football might be. But we've been pleasantly surprised.

"We're in our fourth year since being reformed and we've not done too badly. We've gone up three leagues. And, although it gets harder every year, we're four points off a play-off place. And I don't think we'll be far away at the end of the season."

First things first, though, on Sunday, against a Charlton side with genuine FA Cup pedigree.

The Addicks featured in the first two Cup finals after World War II at Wembley, losing 4-1 to Derby in 1946, before returning the following year to beat Burnley 1-0.

Other than going up to the Premier League via the play-offs at Wembley in 1998 and again as Division One champions two years later, that 1947 FA Cup win remains Charlton's last major honour.

They will be particularly wary of any Cup tie on a non-league ground, following their experience at the Victoria Stadium two years ago, especially as they have one player, vice-captain Matt Taylor, who played for Halifax in 2004-05.

But, such has been the transformation at The Valley since Powell took over that Scott Wagstaff, who came off the bench that day at Northwich, is the only survivor from the tie.

For older Charlton fans, no Cup clash against non-league opposition can be undertaken without a reminder of the day in January 1979 when they met Maidstone at The Valley and, being held 1-1 with time running out, their two star strikers Derek Hales and Mike Flanagan ended up being sent off for fighting each other.

There was a happy ending for the Addicks, who won the replay 2-1, but Powell's men hope there is no such drama if they are to make it into the second round draw.

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