There’s a general theme in professional sport that money is the key to success.
It’s hard to argue with the facts. But there are occasional exceptions to that rule, and there is one living example in the Championship.
In a division featuring huge budgets, four full-time teams and clubs with instant Super League aspirations, there’s a genuine threat to clubs like Halifax that they could get left behind.
But Richard Marshall and his plucky part-timers have refused to lie down and roll out the red carpet for their heavy-spending rivals.
Halifax defeated Batley on Saturday to go third in the Championship, moving above London, Featherstone and Leigh.
For context, this is a club spending approximately £350,000 on its playing budget this year.
In comparison, Leigh boast a seven-figure budget that compares to clubs in Super League, London also spend drastically more while Featherstone, who are also part-time, spend around £550,000.
Then there’s Toronto, who are near enough at the full salary cap, and Toulouse, another full-time outfit that far outspends the West Yorkshire club.
Fax have absolutely no right to be where they are in the table. Yet with eight games left until the split, they’re in the driving seat.
Their achievements are an example to all that money isn’t everything. Under Marshall, the club has gone about fine-tuning its infrastructure and building the club around the community.
Saturday’s matchday squad consisted of six Halifax-born players. A further four players from the town have also played for the club during their Championship campaign so far.
A key reason for the influx of hometown stars has been the development of the club’s reserve grade, which has not only ensured several players haven’t been lost to the game, but also provided them with a pathway into the professional scene.
Since it’s establishment in 2016, their reserve grade has brought through Brandon Moore, Elliot Morris and Chester Butler, who are now regular features in their first-team squad. Another, Nick Rawsthorne, earned a contract at Hull FC and is now playing for Toronto. All four of them could have dropped out of the game altogether if it wasn’t for Fax.
Off the field, the club has seen its support base go above and beyond to support the club. Fax Trust has raised thousands to support the running of the reserve grade. Another group, LS28, has spent a vast amount of money and effort to attract new and old supporters, but also to fund signings.
A result of all of that is a group of players proud to play for the club, and a fanbase proud to support it. That is the envy of many clubs right now.
Several players in Fax’s squad have had the opportunity to leave for better money elsewhere, but stayed to be a part of what the club stands for. On the terraces, fans who gave up years ago are creeping back through the gates.
There will come a time when Halifax want to seriously push for Super League, and when it comes, it’s inevitable that they’ll have to invest more money in their squad. However, unlike other clubs who just pump money into their first grade, they’ll have a sound infrastructure behind them.
Should Halifax make the top four, there are few achievements that could top it.
It’s far from a certainty, and their games against the chasing pack, starting with Leigh away on Sunday, will decide their fate.
But whether they make it or not, Halifax represents a lot of things other clubs could learn from and proves money doesn’t have to be the cornerstone of success.