How Dean Hoyle worked his way up to take over at Hud­der­s­field

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

WHEN Dean Hoyle left school in 1983, he had no qual­i­fi­ca­tions, no trade, no real prospects. A Hud­der­s­field Town fan since child­hood, he would catch the bus from his Heck­mond­wike home to the old Leeds Road ground.

Three decades on, the 48-yearold is York­shire’s 12th-rich­est man, his per­sonal wealth es­ti­mated at £254m.

And he no longer queues for tick­ets. He doesn’t need the bus. He’s got the best seat in the di­rec­tors’ box and a per­sonal park­ing space out front. “Dean is the best thing to hap­pen to Hud­der­s­field in years,” said Ter­ri­ers leg­end Andy Booth. “Too many clubs th­ese days are owned by peo­ple who have no af­fil­i­a­tion to them. But Dean was a sup­porter be­fore and he’s still a sup­porter now. He cares, and that’s priceless.”

Back in the days when Hoyle was roar­ing on Mick Bux­ton’s men (and his favourite player Mal­colm Brown), he would never have dreamt of own­ing the club. Now he does – thanks to a keen-eyed boss, el­bow grease and sev­eral mil­lion birth­day cards.

Stuck for some­thing to do af­ter ditch­ing school, the 16-year-old Hoyle signed up as an en­gi­neer’s labourer on a YTS scheme.

Luck­ily, his em­ployer judged there was more to his new re­cruit than mind­less skivvy­ing and packed him off to col­lege on an en­gi­neer­ing ap­pren­tice­ship. Three years later, Hoyle was awarded ap­pren­tice of the year.

“It was at that mo­ment that I un­der­stood how hard work and de­ter­mi­na­tion can pay off,” he said in 2012. “It was a turn­ing point in my life. I worked in en­gi­neer­ing un­til I was 24 and then de­cided to be­come self-em­ployed.”

Self-em­ploy­ment was far from glam­orous. In 1993, Hoyle be­gan sell­ing greet­ings cards from the back of a van in Wake­field. In 1997, he and wife Janet opened their first shop, the Card Fac­tory. Aim­ing to un­der­cut their ri­vals, al­most ev­ery card was priced un­der £1.

Back then, Birthdays was a na­tional pow­er­house and Hoyle still re­mem­bers their ‘head hon­chos’ pay­ing him a visit. “I was man­ning the till and my wife was stack­ing the shelves,” he said. “They walked round, had a look and one of them said ‘This is noth­ing spe­cial’.”


Yet grad­u­ally Hoyle caught up the com­pe­ti­tion, then over­took them. By 2008, Birthdays was head­ing for ad­min­is­tra­tion while the Card Fac­tory boasted 500 shops and prof­its of £70m. And it was then that Hoyle fol­lowed his heart and bought his child­hood club, fi­nally giv­ing up his sea­son ticket on the Kil­ner Bank.

Even for a sea­soned busi­ness­man, ini­tial lessons were harsh. “At times, it felt like a case of ‘You earn the money, Dean, and then we will spend it for you – but don’t ask what we are do­ing’,” he said of the reign of Stan Ter­nent.

Ter­nent was dis­missed, yet even that act of ruth­less­ness was un­der­pinned by the per­sonal touch that would en­dear Hoyle to fans, play­ers and a suc­ces­sion of man­agers.

“I re­mem­ber when Stan was sacked, Dean called the play­ers to a meet­ing,” said for­mer Ter­ri­ers skip­per Jonny Wor­thing­ton. “He ex­plained why Stan had to go, al­lowed us to have our say. All the play­ers re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated be­ing treated like that.”

Hoyle is no soft touch. His quest for Cham­pi­onship foot­ball saw him sack close friend Lee Clark just months af­ter com­plet­ing a 43game un­beaten run, then Simon Grayson, the man who fi­nally achieved the dream. Mark Robins bit the dust just one game into the cur­rent sea­son.Yet it is tes­ta­ment to Hoyle’s straight-talk­ing sin­cer­ity that none of them bear a grudge.

“It hurt be­cause I loved the job,” said Clark, who has since been in­vited back to the club with his fam­ily as a guest of Hoyle. “But Dean is a fan who put a lot of his time and money into Hud­der­s­field. He did what he felt was right and I re­spect that. My re­la­tion­ship with him goes be­yond foot­ball and we are still friends.”

Now Chris Pow­ell is the man tasked with keep­ing Hud­der­s­field in the Cham­pi­onship.

“Dean was the rea­son I came here,” said the for­mer Eng­land full­back. “He watches train­ing, comes to ev­ery game. He’s a lo­cal man who grew up with the team, loves the team and now owns the team.

“That’s how it al­ways used to be. I think he’s the last of a dy­ing breed.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

RAGS TO RICHES: Dean Hoyle has worked hard for his suc­cess

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