Supporters' Association

Examiner Reports: November 2013

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Contents

7th
14th
21st
28th

7th

What an absolutely fantastic two days of Rugby League related events last week.

On Friday, the World Cup Celebration Day, organised by the Heritage Group, was an outstanding success. Speakers from around the world of rugby gave their thoughts on World Cups past, present, and future.

This was followed on Saturday by the England victory over Ireland in front of the first ever sell-out crowd at the John Smith's Stadium.

However, these events were merely appetite whetters for what HGSA has in the pipeline!

To kick off, we have a FUN debate next Tuesday [12th] where we shall consider whether the word 'Fartown' is now redundant, and we should only consider using the phrase 'Huddersfield Giants'.

Leading the 'Giants' camp will be Stuart Bleese [from our recent sponsors, Q-Connect, and now a true believer in our great game] and Julie Thwaites [HGSA secretary]. The traditionalists' reply will be heralded by supporter Alan Hobson and the Giants deputy chairman Paul Morgan.

Why not come along to Turnbridge WMC and have your say? It should be a really explosive meeting!

Back by popular demand is our, now annual, Reindeer Race Night [Friday 13th December]. The track will be in the confines of Turnbridge. Once again Santa has loaned us the use of his trusty steeds for the evening. Mind you, our insurance bill for this extravaganza has gone through the roof [Turnbridge has no chimneys].

The reindeer – without Rudolph who, sadly, has a back strain and is undergoing physiotherapy in readiness for THE big event – will be in the paddock at 7:30 with the first race scheduled for 8 o'clock. Entry is £5 which includes the renowned Turnbridge buffet supper.

Should you wish to sponsor a reindeer, a race, or, indeed, the event please go to our website or phone Dave Calverley [07887 878 425]. There are not many openings remaining so act now!

Finally, plans are now progressing for activities aimed at our new, soon to be formed, Young Giants. Watch this space!

More dates for your diary:
November 11th, the unveiling of Hercules [the 'Fartown Stone' from the old St John's Road Gymnasium] at a Remembrance Day service [morning, John Smith's Stadium];
January 7th, guest speaker is Angela Powers from Sky;
January 23rd, Fans Forum at the John Smith's Stadium;
January 31st, our annual pre-season meal [meet in the Sportsman for a jar or two of ale before making the 50 yard trek up to Bradleys Restaurant];
February 4th, the BBC's very own Tanya Arnold.

In addition, all the speakers at the Celebration Day have agreed to come along at some stage and entertain us.

www.GiantsSupporters.co.uk, www.HuddersfieldRLHeritage.co.uk.


14th

Rugby League World Cup 2013 Celebration Day

What an outstanding success this event proved to be.
Members of the Giants Heritage Project were ably led by Brian Heywood and David Thorpe in producing a day to remember at the John Smith's Stadium.

Prior to the conference part of the day, over a dozen Rugby League clubs brought along various heritage items. Did you know that during the 2nd World War, winners' medals were not awarded? Instead players received boxes of cutlery! Featherstone had one on show to prove the fact!

Everyone who helped make this part of the occasion deserves the utmost credit, but a particular mention must go to Pat Benatmane. Single-handedly she brought a stunning display from one of the game's oldest clubs which, a few years ago, almost died. One of the early greats, Hunslet are now steadily building for the future. And with people like Pat supporting them, who says that they will not succeed?

In the conference room, David Hinchliffe was the Master Of Ceremonies. David, formerly MP for Wakefield, formed the Parliamentary All-Party Rugby League Support Group.

After the official opening by David Oxley CBE, the panel of Robbie Hunter-Paul, John Kear, and Bev Risman OBE, under the guidance of Phil Caplan [managing editor of Forty-20 magazine] gave their opinions of Rugby League and the World Cup.

A lunch break followed, before Rugby League historian Tony Collins prodded David Jeanes, Harry Jepson, and Steve Nash for their memories about the 1972 World Cup. The session began with a 20-minute film of the final in which David and Steve played, the last time Great Britain won the trophy.

The final panel consisted of John Kear, Gary Hetherington, Julia Lee, Garry Schofield, and Chris Thorman, chaired by Dave Woods and whose subject was 2013 World Cups – Julia was managing director for last summer's Festival of World Cups - and how they would take Rugby League forward. John Kear suggested a 4-year cycle of:

1. World Cup

2. Top 3 or 4 teams from UK play same from NRL in World Club Championship

3. GB tour southern hemisphere

4. A European Nations tournament involving most or all of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, and Italy.

The stirring closing address was by Tony Collins emphasised the resilience and strengths of rugby league, before David Hinchliffe brought a memorable day to an end.

The day was marketed and priced from the start as an event for the fans. This was only made possible because all the speakers gave generously of their time free of charge. Their reward was an audience of over 200 attendees. Will this enormously successful event be repeated? Who knows? Within the room there was certainly a demand for it to be.

 

21st

To Fartown or not to Fartown, that was the question!

Chairman Dave Calverley opened the great debate by asking members to vote at the conclusion based on the arguments proffered and not what was in their hearts. If it were to be solely on 'hearts' then there would have been no point in the debate.

Stuart Bleese of sponsors Q-Connect set the ball rolling by stating that since becoming the club's sponsor he had grown to love the game and he and his son would be season tickets holders for the forthcoming season. [Cynics at this point would have come to the conclusion that he was buttering the audience up and attempting to save his neck! However, we shall, for the moment, give him the benefit of the doubt!]

He understood the heritage of the club – ably demonstrated by the current Heritage Project – and what the ground meant to supporters past and present. However, as a marketer, he saw the necessity of getting the 'Giants' brand out and well ensconced in the public's mind.

"The name 'Fartown' is not known outside of the Huddersfield area" he continued, "and as such, it is the word 'Giants' which both the club and the community of current supporters ought to be driving forward."

Supporter Alan Hobson gave an inspiring and passionate [note the unbiased reporting here] defence of 'Fartown' by stating that the word was both a nickname and a moniker.

"Huddersfield Rugby League Club and the Giants are both recent concepts. Even when the club was officially 'Huddersfield Cricket and Athletic Club', local buses had flyers stating 'Football at Fartown' in their windows. This one word states who we are and what we do."

HGSA secretary Julie Thwaites spoke by backing Stuart's attack by reiterating the salient points of his argument.

"'Fartown' confuses not only away fans, but I also find younger supporters asking 'who is this Fartown?'. We look up to the Giants, we look up to Big G."

It then fell to the club's Deputy Chairman Paul Morgan – a man whom you expect to back 'Giants' to the hilt – to conclude for the defence.

"We can't vote with the head, we have to vote with our hearts. The hackers we're enjoying at the World Cup wouldn't exist in a Bleesian world, they are a remnant of the past, of each country's heritage.

"We are Fartowners.

"Fartowners wanted to innovate and move the game of Rugby forward.

"Harold Wagstaffe, a star of the Rourkes Drift Test, called himself a Fartowner. Dave Valentine, the first British captain to hold up the World Cup, called himself a Fartowner.

"'Fartown' gives us our sense of history, and as such must be retained."

The audience was equally passionate in the comments and questions which followed. What was particularly interesting was the way people did speak from their heads and not just from their hearts.

After the final summing up from both sides, the vote was taken. And extremely surprising was result. The motion was neither carried nor defeated!

At this point, Alan proposed an amendment to the motion: "This house believes that 'Fartown' should be vigorously remembered and continued to be used, but that 'Giants' is the way forward in marketing the club".

Carried unanimously.

A plug for our Reindeer Race Night on Friday 13th December. Only a few tickets remain so book now! We do have rather more reindeer to be sponsored, though. All details on the website [www.GiantsSupporters.co.uk] or from Dave Calverley [07887 878 425].

Finally, for those who remember Greg Austin, a player in the 90s. He will shortly be visiting the UK and has agreed to star in "An Evening With Greg Austin". This will be at Turnbridge WMC on Thursday 16th January.


28th

First of all, to those of you who intend enjoying a night of joviality at our Reindeer Race Night [Friday 13th December], tickets are flying out by the Santa sack full, so buy your ticket now. All details are on the website [www.GiantsSupporters.co.uk] or from Dave Calverley [07887 878 425].

After having a chat with Mick Murphy [one of the club's many saviours] in the pub the other night – and what tales he had to tell! – it seems timely to continue our [very] occasional delve into how the sleeping giant became THE Giant of the Rugby League world. [Mick did say that he would come and chat with HGSA – a gentle reminder because he does read this column!]

Revival

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.

The expense of this achievement cost the club dearly and a new financial crisis arrived. However, along came a bright new consortium who began to shape the future of the club once again. The club left Fartown and moved to Huddersfield Town's home ground at Leeds Road in 1992.

In 1993 six teams were invited to take part in an inaugural European Clubs Championship, the six teams consisted of two from the USSR; Tiraspol and Moscow Magicians, two from France; Carcassonne and XIII Catalan and Batley and Huddersfield.

Only weeks before departure the plans collapsed as both Soviet clubs pulled out due to financial difficulties, closely followed by Batley, Carcassonne who had just five players available due to a players' strike. This left just Huddersfield and XIII Catalan to meet in the "final" in Barcelona. The lead changed hands three times before Huddersfield held on for a 23 - 22 victory.

Huddersfield took a share in the new McAlpine Stadium in 1994. In 1995 the first team reached the final of the Second Division premiership competition at Old Trafford.

Summer Era

In 1996, the first tier of British Rugby League clubs played the inaugural Super League season and changed from a winter to a summer season. As the sport in Britain entered a new era it would be two years before Huddersfield rose again to the top level of the game.

In 1996, Ken Davy took over as chairman of Huddersfield and "Giants" was added to the team name. Ken's first trophy came in 1997 at Old Trafford where Huddersfield beat Hull 18-0 in the Divisional Championship.

[To be continued…]


Reproduced by kind permission of the Huddersfield Examiner
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