Joe McClelland was the first manager of Halifax Town football club. He was present on 24 May 1911 when a meeting at the Saddle Hotel in Halifax brought about the birth of the club. He was one of a small group of people willing to guarantee the sum of £1 to ensure the formation of Halifax Town. Prior to this he had played local football for Halifax Trinity before becoming the Halifax and District Association League's youngest secretary, a position he held until 1912.
McClelland played a dual role being both club secretary and manager. During his first season in charge at Halifax the club finished in a respectable 7th place in the Yorkshire Combination League. He continued in his managerial role up to 1 July 1930 when he relinquised his post. With almost 20 years at the helm he remains the longest serving manager in the club's history.
With players in short supply McClelland found it necessary to add himself to the team sheet on more than one occasion. His first appearance came on 8 February 1913 in a 0–0 draw away to Hull City Reserves. Following the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the player shortage was naturally & tragically exasperated and between 1914 and 1916 he made a further 8 first team appearances. The difficulties reached crisis point on 22 April 1915 when McClelland found himself 3 players short on arrival at Grimsby Town Reserves. He solved matters by signing two players on the spot and adding himself to the starting line up. His makeshift team lost the game by a margin of 5–0.
During his time at Halifax the club gained entry to the football league and built a new stadium at The Shay, the same site is still being used by Halifax Town and Halifax RLFC today. Symbolizing the significance of his contribution, McClelland, along with 3 directors, laid the first turf on the playing surface on 7 December 1920.