Neil Aspin

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Neil Aspin
Personal information
Date of birth (1965-04-12) 12 April 1965 (age 50)[1]
Place of birth Gateshead, England[1]
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)[1]
Playing position Defender[1]
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1982–1989 Leeds United 207 (5)
1989–1999 Port Vale 348 (3)
1999–2001 Darlington 51 (0)
2001 Hartlepool United 10 (0)
2001–2004 Harrogate Town ? (?)
2009 F.C. Halifax Town 2 (0)
Total 618 (8)
Teams managed
2005–2009 Harrogate Town
2009–2015 F.C. Halifax Town

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Neil Aspin (born 12 April 1965) is an English former professional footballer and football manager.

A solid defender who could play at centre-back and right-back, he was a good marker and an adept tackler.[2] He started his professional career with Leeds United in 1982, where he made 244 appearances over a seven-year spell. He was sold to Port Vale for £150,000 in 1989, and remained at Vale Park throughout the 1990s, making 348 league appearances. He was made Port Vale F.C. Player of the Year in 1990 and 1994, and was also named in the PFA Team of the Year for 1993–94. He won promotion with the club out of the Second Division in 1993–94, and also lifted the Football League Trophy in 1993. He then spent 1999 to 2001 with Darlington, and also spent a brief period of 2001 at Hartlepool United. He played in play-off final defeats with Leeds, Port Vale and Darlington.

He spent 2005 to 2009 as manager of non-league Harrogate Town. In 2009 he took up his current position as manager of F.C. Halifax Town. He managed Halifax to three successive promotions in his first three seasons at the club, taking them from the second tier of the Northern Premier League to the Conference Premier before he was sacked in September 2015.

Playing career[edit]

Leeds United[edit]

Born in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, Aspin began his career as a trainee at Leeds United, a club he supported as a boy despite its distance from his hometown.[3] He made his debut against Ipswich Town in February 1982, aged just sixteen years old.[3] He was the second youngest ever débutante for the club, behind Peter Lorimer.[3]

At the end of the 1981–82 season Leeds lost their First Division status, and he remained at Elland Road for seven seasons of Second Division football, during which Leeds finished between fourth and tenth, always coming close to promotion but never succeeding in regaining their top-flight status. The closest United came was in 1987, when they lost 2–1 to Charlton Athletic in the play-off Final replay at St Andrew's.[4] John Sheridan had put Leeds ahead in extra-time, only for Peter Shirtliff to score in the 113th and 117th minutes to break United hearts. This followed disappointment in the FA Cup, where Leeds had reached the semi-finals, only to suffer defeat to Coventry City at Hillsborough, again in extra time.[5] Aspin played in the game after he postponed his wedding, which had been scheduled to take place on the day of the semi-final.[3] He was voted the club's Player of the Year in 1985.

Under the management of Allan Clarke, Aspin made the right-back position his own. He retained his first team place under Eddie Gray and Billy Bremner, until he fell out of favour under Howard Wilkinson, losing his place to new signing Mel Sterland. Having played 244 games in league and cup for the club,[1] he was sold to Port Vale for a £150,000 fee in July 1989.[3] Leeds finally won promotion in 1989–90.[3]

Port Vale[edit]

Port Vale were preparing for their first Second Division campaign in 32 years when "Aspo" arrived at the club. He played 51 games in 1989–90, as the club recorded an eleventh-place finish. He immediately established himself as a firm favourite with the supporters at Vale Park, taking the club's player of the year award at the end of the campaign. He was also entrusted with the club's captaincy.[3]

"Aspo was one of those guys who played with a very basic philosophy. Either the ball or the player could pass him, but never both – and he often preferred to clear the player rather than the ball."

— Robbie Earle writing in 2012.[6]

He played 46 games in 1990–91, also scoring his first goal for the "Valiants" in a 3–2 win over Portsmouth on 19 January. He was consistent again in the relegation season of 1991–92, making another 46 appearances. He played 48 games in 1992–93, and played a leading role in the victorious Football League Trophy campaign of 1992–93.[7] The Trophy final was played at Wembley Stadium, and Aspin played alongside Peter Swan and Dean Glover to help Vale record a 2–1 win over Stockport County. He also played in the play-off Final, which ended in a 3–0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion.

Vale won promotion into the First Division at the end of 1993–94, and Aspin was voted Player of the Year for a second time.[8] He was also elected to the divisional Team of the Season, as voted for by members of the Professional Footballers' Association. Vale retained their second tier status in 1994–95 and 1995–96. Aspin also played in the 1996 Anglo-Italian Cup Final, as Vale lost 5–2 to Genoa.

He made 38 appearances in 1996–97, as the club posted their highest ever post-war finish (eighth in the second tier). He played 29 games in 1997–98 and 32 games in 1998–99. In January 1999, manager John Rudge, who had signed Aspin ten years earlier, was replaced by Brian Horton. Aspin also left the club at the end of the season, with 348 league appearances to his name, and even enjoyed a testimonial featuring Vale supporter Robbie Williams.[9]

Darlington, Hartlepool & Harrogate[edit]

Following his departure from Vale, Aspin remained in the Football League with Darlington. The "Quakers" reached the Third Division play-off Final in 2000. However Peterborough United won the game 1–0, leaving Aspin with his third defeat in a play-off final.

Darlington struggled in 2000–01, and Aspin left the club in January 2001 to sign for Hartlepool United. He played ten league games as the "Pools" reached the Third Division play-offs, where they were defeated by Blackpool at the semi-final stage. At the end of the campaign Aspin joined Northern Premier League First Division side Harrogate Town as a player-coach.

Harrogate topped the table by a ten-point margin in 2001–02, and spent 2002–03 in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. The club pushed for promotion in 2002–03, before the club was invited to join the newly formed Conference North after a fifth-place finish in 2003–04. Aspin then retired as a player. He was expected to return to Darlington as a defensive coach,[10] only for the move to fall through after the club reversed its decision.[11]

Managerial career[edit]

Harrogate Town[edit]

Aspin was back at Harrogate Town halfway through the 2004–05 season as manager. His stay would last for four and a half years. In this time he consistently kept the North Yorkshire side in the top half of the Conference North and pushing for promotion to the Conference Premier. The closest they came to this was in his first full season 2005–06 when they qualified for the end of season play-offs but lost 2–1 to Stafford Rangers on aggregate in the semi-finals. In the three following seasons, Harrogate finished sixth twice (one place outside the playoffs) and ninth in 2008–09, which was to be his last with the club. However he did manage his first success as a manager at the end of the 2007–08 season as Town won the West Riding County Cup. In April 2009, after a discussion with the club chairman, Aspin decided he could not take the club any further with the budget on offer, and announced his decision to leave.[12]

FC Halifax Town[edit]

He was appointed manager of Northern Premier League Division One North club F.C. Halifax Town on 28 April 2009.[13] On 2 November, Aspin came out of retirement at age 44 to play the first half for Halifax in a match against Harrogate Railway in a West Riding County Cup First Round match which Halifax won 1–0. In his first season with the "Shaymen" he led them to the Division One North title, winning the league with 100 points, with the team scoring 108 goals.

In his second season in charge he led the "Shaymen" to back-to-back promotions when they won the Northern Premier League Premier Division with 98 points and again scoring 108 goals. In his first two seasons the team had only lost six league games, allowing Aspin to pick up several Manager of the Month awards, as well as the Non League Paper Manager of the Year award.[14]

After defeating Ashton United on penalties in the Peter Swales Shield,[15] Aspin led his team to the FA Cup First Round for the first time in the club's brief history, where they faced a 'dream' home tie with Charlton Athletic.[16] Halifax secured a play-off spot at the end of the 2012–13 season, and won a third successive promotion with a 1–0 victory over Brackley Town.[17] He also added the West Riding County Cup to the club's trophy cabinet with a 1–0 victory over Guiseley.[18]

In the club's first season in the Conference Premier he led the club to a fifth-place finish, securing a play-off spot. They lost out to Cambridge United at the play-off semi-final stage.[19]

Halifax had a great start to the 2014–15 season and Aspin was named as the division's manager of the month after leading the club to five wins in six games in August.[20] During that same month he signed a new two-year contract with the club.[21] He was linked with the vacant management position at former club Port Vale the following month.[22] Halifax's promotion push collapsed at the end of the season, and they ended in ninth place on a run of just one win in their final 15 games.[23] He was sacked on 17 September 2015 following what the board described as "a prolonged period of indifferent results stretching back to February 2015".[24]

Managerial statistics[edit]

All competitive league games (league and domestic cup) and international matches (including friendlies) are included.

As of 11 April 2015
Team Year Record
G W D L Win %
Harrogate Town 2005–2009
F.C. Halifax Town 2009–2015 270 133 66 71 49.26
Career Total 270 133 66 71 49.26


As a player[edit]

with Leeds United
with Port Vale
with Darlington
with Harrogate Town

As a manager[edit]

with Harrogate Town
with FC Halifax Town


  1. ^ a b c d e "Neil Aspin". Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  2. ^ Kent, Jeff (December 1991). Port Vale Tales: A Collection Of Stories, Anecdotes And Memories. Witan Books. p. 298. ISBN 0-9508981-6-3. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Leeds United: My Whites playing days – Aspin INTERVIEW". Yorkshire Evening Post. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "Aspin forgets about settling old scores as Shaymen seek shock". Yorkshire Post. 12 November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Hillsborough History". 26 May 2007. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Earle, Robbie (12 January 2012). "Here's my promotion-winning Vale team". The Sentinel. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Kent, Jeff (1996). Port Vale Personalities. Witan Books. p. 10. ISBN 0-9529152-0-0. 
  8. ^ "Neil Aspin". Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  9. ^ Sherwin, Phil (2010). The Port Vale Miscellany. Brimscombe Port: The History Press. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-7524-5777-2. 
  10. ^ "Neil Aspin set to return in new coaching position". Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  11. ^ "Neil Aspin not returning to Quakers as coach". Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  12. ^ "Football: Aspin to leave Town after season ends". Nidderdale Herald. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2009. 
  13. ^ "FC Halifax Town: New boss at Shay". Halifax Evening Courier. 28 April 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2009. 
  14. ^ "Neil Aspin Picks Up Award". FC Halifax Town. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2010. 
  15. ^ Hills-Taylor, David. "Pens the Difference in Peter Swales Shield Curtain Raiser". Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  16. ^ "Charlton drawn to play FC Halifax and Basingstoke land plum trip to Brentford in FA Cup first round". Daily Mail (London). 30 October 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  17. ^ "Brackley Town 0–1 FC Halifax Town". Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  18. ^ "Seddon's goal wins West Riding County Cup for FC Halifax Town". Yorkshire Evening Post. 15 May 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  19. ^ Osborne, Chris (4 May 2014). "Cambridge 2 - 0 Halifax Town". BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  20. ^ "FC Halifax Town Manager Awarded......". Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  21. ^ "Neil Aspin signs FC Halifax contract extension". BBC Sport. 12 August 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  22. ^ "Neil Aspin one of the favourites for Port Vale post". Halifax Courier. 19 September 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  23. ^ "Aspin looks ahead after late blows". Yorkshire Post. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  24. ^ "Neil Aspin: FC Halifax sack boss after one win in 10 games". BBC Sport. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 

External links[edit]