Supporters' Association

Examiner Reports: August 2013

History of Fartown.

The earliest record of a football match being played in the Huddersfield area is in 1848, when a team of men from Hepworth took on a team of men from Holmfirth near Whinney Bank in Holmfirth. Hepworth won a ...

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Club Honours

The club's first cup victory was in the 1889-90 season when the Yorkshire Cup was won for the first time.

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Membership

See how to become a member of the Supporters Association...

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RFL Benevolent Fund

Support the RFL Benevolent Fund by following this link.

Contents

1st
8th
15th
22nd
29th

1st

The young and the slightly older this week.

Our ever-popular Junior Disco returns this coming Sunday [prior to the Salford game]. As usual it is in the Fantastic Media Suit from 1 o'clock onwards. The challenge this week is to get the visiting players to join in the dancing! [Youngsters must be accompanied by responsible adults please.]

Lifelong supporter Trevor Kaye was our guest.

His earliest recollection was in 1951, and the early 50s' tries on Lionel Cooper.

As the 60s wore on, the decline set in with lower crowds and the inevitable decline in income.

The club in those days was run by a royal 'committee' with various other 'committees' subservient to it. Trevor and 5 others decided to form yet another, the 'New Players For Fartown' committee. They instigated an old newspaper collection, being paid £300 per wagon load – a substantial sum in those days.

For those who remember, the stand at Fartown was wooden. The newspapers were stored beneath it. Eventually someone realised that this might be a fire hazard! Newspaper collecting ceased.

Eventually Trevor decided to stand for election to the General Committee. Here he hoped he could transform the running of Fartown. Instead, at his first meeting, he was told in no uncertain terms by a long-established committee member, "Right lad, the best thing you can do is sit down and shut up for a year"!

The coach was Brian Smith. Not the world's best, but he instilled a tremendous team spirit amongst the players. However, come team selection after Thursday night's training, the coach would be told "Right Brian, off you go now. We'll [the 'Football Committee'] pick the team.".

We've all seen how today's team spends almost half an hour warming up before the match. Well, it was the same in those days. For example, on away trips to Cumbria, the coach would stop a mile outside of the town and the players had to walk to the ground. Almost half an hour's pre-match warm up!

As finances deteriorated, the kit got worse until the club ended up with only one set. If the A team [the reserves] had a match on a Saturday, it was all hands to the team bath in order to wash the kit ready for Sunday's first team game.

The club reached the semi-final of BBC's Floodlight Trophy. There were only 14 shirts for 15 players. A white shirt was acquired and a couple of wives sewed a claret & gold V on the front.

Tumultuous times followed by a stroke of luck.

Umbro were persuaded that Fartown were a good prospect. The company provided full kits and training gear for 5 years – virtually saving the club.

Trevor then joined Radio Leeds' sports team. Harry Gration phoned Trevor and told him "It won't be commentating on Fartown, you know".

His first match was at Huyton [v Halifax]. [One of the town's most revered celebrities, Harold Wilson, became Prime Minister whilst representing this area of Liverpool.]

For those with long memories, you will not need reminding of the pleasures of Huyton!

Trevor had to commentate on one incident during the game where a youngster rode his bike along the 25 yard line during a game!

Trevor reminded us of the time when Huyton's saviour, Geoff Fletcher, had his wig 'borrowed' by one Graham Swales after a game! Geoff, a man you did not cross, was not best pleased!]

Trevor commentated for 20 years, enjoying every minute of it

Trevor's journey has always been accompanied by Sheila, his wife. Ever the quiet one [Trevor wishes!], we must get her side of the story one day!

August 6th: Jason McCartney MP, a non-political event explaining his role within the All Party Parliamentary RL Group.

September 3rd: Giant Quiz night. Teams of 4 with the first 16 teams having a player as a guest member. The questions will cover a wide range of topics including some 'Wally Questions'! £8 per team with money for the winners.

8th

A change for the better? A change at all?

Rugby League is recognised as a sport unafraid to take on the challenges of innovative change. After all, it grew by taking on the establishment in 1895.

Following the 2012 Watkins Governance Policy Review, this great sport is now in the middle of a major structural review. The Rugby Football League (RFL) Board was instructed to carry out the review after concerns, about competition structure, were raised during the Watkins Review consultations. The review includes: size and structure of leagues; licensing; promotion and relegation; and approach to expansion. There is to be full consultation with stakeholders, including supporters.

The RFL commissioned a report, from KPMG, on the strengths and weaknesses in the game's current structure, drawing conclusions for its future. After publication an extensive consultation process began, to consider proposals and help develop the competition structure. A structure: that must stimulate growth at all levels of the sport; in which clubs stand, or fall, by on-field performance; that makes the most of resources; and appeals to sponsors.

So promotion and relegation are back. The RFL warns of the difficulties. It points to Oldham and Workington, clubs that have never recovered from relegation. Many Huddersfield supporters remember the nightmare of promotion without sufficient preparation and finance.

The two options left on the table, each with 30 fixtures, are: two leagues of 12; and two leagues of 12 splitting to three leagues of 8 after 23 rounds, the results of the middle league determining club positions for the following year. In each case the upper 12, Super League, will be financed as now, with additional funds for Academies and parachute payments. The lower 12, Championship, will be funded according to position.

This raises a number of questions. What happens to a club's Academy on relegation? How does a club develop an Academy on promotion? As final positions are not known until the end of the season how are clubs that are promoted or relegated, to prepare for the following season? Will player contracts have to be rewritten? What will happen to player performance development across competitions? Toulouse Olympique want a team in Super League, if it satisfies criteria, will this come about? Have you been consulted?

Consider this. The RFL will decide which clubs participate in the leagues and the mechanisms by which clubs move. These include finances and ground suitability. Criteria that applied under the licensing system! Are we therefore to be given an impression of change while, in reality, there are static leagues as clubs are found not to meet the necessary criteria.

The Watkins Review stated that the RFL needed more transparency. Nigel Wood RFL CEO stated 'the strength of Rugby League is that it is honest and candid when it looks at itself'. Will it be the 12 to 8 option, as expected? Consultations continue. We wait with bated breath.

The Watkins Review and the Policy Review can be found on www.therfl.com

15th

How often does a politician speak without being political?
Well, we managed it last week when Jason McCartney, MP for the Colne Valley, was our guest speaker.

Jason is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group. The aim of this influential body is to act as ambassadors for the game and promote it at all levels.

Whilst it does mainly consist of MPs from the North, it is truly cross-party, with luminaries such as Labour's Lindsay Hoyle, the Deputy Speaker, and his father Doug [from the House Of Lords] and Greg Mulholland from the Liberal Democrats. The former two are fervent Warrington supporters, whilst the latter is a Leeds fan.

There are approximately 40 members in the group but, just to put it into perspective, there are over 400 such groups in Parliament.

However, they recently had Nigel Wood [Chief Executive of the RFL] explain the proposed 2015 league structure [for those who say that it is too complicated, Jason agrees strongly with you!].

When Parliament reopens in September, they have set up a Rugby League Extravaganza with the World Cup in prominence.
In addition, Jason regularly promotes the sport with David Cameron.

Jason recognises that there are numerous challenges in our game [funding, television rights, crowds, growth - should we be an M62 corridor sport or should we continue to rise as a world sport?] and asked the audience to join in a discussion about what we, the grass roots' fans, want.

A lively debate ensued but thankfully everyone remained friends!
All in all a good night was had by everyone.

Mick Beevers thanked Jason for his time [as a Town season ticket holder, he missed a match that night!] and enthusiasm. Dave Calverley presented him with the customary Honorary Membership of the Association.

Now is the time for members to consider two items:

1. Whom they would like to be on the 2014 committee. This is not a particularly onerous task, and we are always looking for new members to promote the Association and come up with new ideas.

2. Whom they would like to receive the prestigious Wagstaffe Trophy. This is in commemoration of Harold Wagstaffe, the Prince Of Centres and is awarded to the player who, in the Association's opinion, is the club's 'Most Valued Player'.
Whilst the definition is purposely left wide open, if you work along the lines of 'who would I least like to leave the club' then you won't go far wrong. [The last two recipients were Scott Grix and Danny Brough.]

More information can be found at www.GiantsSupporters.co.uk or forms can be obtained at Turnbridge WMC or from any committee member.

22nd

We are constantly being told "Look how far we've come in such a short period of time".

As the excitement grows, it is perhaps timely to remember those Dark Times and our Revival by continuing our occasional 'History Series'.

Decline & Revival

By the 1970s, the club had become a shadow of its former self, the old Fartown ground had fallen into disrepair and the club frequently finished in the lower reaches of the league.
Local businessman, John Bailey, took a controlling interest in the stadium, the club and the pavilion. In 1984, in an attempt to revive the club, Huddersfield adopted the moniker 'Barracudas' and Fartown was renamed Arena 84. As the crowds continued to stay away, it became clear that Bailey could not stem the decline.

April 10th, 1983 saw the club's lowest ever crowd. Just 422 turned up to watch the Whitehaven game.

Huddersfield Rugby League Club was on the point of collapse.
A new board of directors took over in 1989 when and injected some much needed financial resources into the club. The 'Barracudas' and 'Arena 84' were dropped for the 1988/9 season. Nigel Stephenson was appointed as coach and Huddersfield were helped by several clubs, in particular Featherstone Rovers, to put a reasonable squad together.

As well as beginning to improve the playing staff, the new owners also carried out a considerable amount of work on the Fartown stadium and by the end of the 1989/90 season significant progress was being made. Average crowds topped 1,500 for the first time since the 1970s.

Shortly after the 1991/2 season had begun, Alex Murphy took over as coach in 1991. Huddersfield were the first ever champions of the newly-formed third division in 1991/2. Promotion to the Second Division had been achieved, and there was pride once again in the famous claret and gold shirt.

September's proposed Quiz Night has been cancelled. In its place we have secured the talents of Jenna Brough's crowd – the Wives & Girlfriends who climbed Ben Nevis for charity. This promises to be an extremely interesting evening. Come along and here what they have to say, after all, it is only £1 for non-members [pay £ 5 and you are a member for a year].

Nominations are now being taken for the next HGSA committee.
Voting is currently underway for the prestigious 'Wagstaff Trophy' [awarded to the player who, in the Association's opinion, is the club's 'Most Valued Player', based along the lines of 'who would I least like to leave the club?'. Previous recipients were Scott Grix and Danny Brough.]

More information can be found at www.GiantsSupporters.co.uk or forms can be obtained at Turnbridge WMC or from any committee member.

29th

Isn't dreaming about what might be an exciting experience?

Well, just to be brought back down to Earth with a bump, I had an e-mail from David Gronow [club historian and author of several Fartown books] concerning last week's article. Here it is:

"Huddersfield's lowest-ever attendance of 303 witnessed a 32-32 draw against Keighley on 17 April 1986, and not 10 April 1983 against Whitehaven as quoted."

In my defence I was in a rush, but that does not excuse sloppy writing. Thanks Dave.

So, how do I pick myself up?

Well, the mouth-watering prospect of HGSA's meeting next Tuesday.

You may remember that a few weeks ago several our heroes' wives and girlfriends turned into heroines themselves. They climbed Ben Nevis in aid if the 'Life For A Kid Foundation'.

We are extremely fortunate in that the group has agreed to come along and share their exploits with us. It should be a really interesting evening.

[If you are not a member of HGSA and want to come along to Turnbridge WMC, please feel free to do so – well, almost free; there is a charge of £1 for non-members.]

Our committee is working extremely hard behind the scenes with lots of new and exciting activities for next season. These activities will encompass the whole family of Giants' supporters.

We are always open to new ideas, though, so why not join us and have your say? The new committee will be voted in at our AGM on October 8th at Turnbridge WMC.

That same evening, we shall announce the winner of this year's 'Wagstaff Trophy' winner. [Scott Grix and Danny Brough have won the award previously.]

Forms for both nominating new committee members and the Wagstaff Trophy are online. Paper versions can be obtained at Turnbridge WMC or from any committee member.

Are you a 'Fartowner' or a 'Giant'?

Stuart Bleese [from our sponsor Q-Connect] is an ardent 'Huddersfield Giant'. He will be putting his case forward at our November meeting. Naturally, there will be speakers opposing his views. So why not come along and join in the debate? [Please note that our November meeting will be on the 12th as you might be otherwise engaged on the 5th!]

And what happens in December?

Why, the now annual Reindeer Race Night. Watch out for some exciting announcements for this year's event.

It is certainly a good time to be a GIANT [or FARTOWNER].

More information can be found at www.GiantsSupporters.co.uk.

 

Reproduced by kind permission of the Huddersfield Examiner
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