Who Do You Think You Are?
Cheering On The Terriers
Rosemary Collins meets a fan preserving the history of Huddersfield Town AFC
Huddersfield Town Association Football Club, nicknamed the Terriers, was founded in 1908, playing its debut match against South Shields Adelaide on 5 September. In 2003, the club’s survival was threatened when it was put into administration. To avoid liquidation and expulsion from the English Football League, its fans created the Huddersfield Town Survival Trust (HTST), which organised a series of grass-roots campaigns and fundraisers. They bought enough time for a local businessman to step in and take over ownership of the club.
After much debate, HTST’s remaining funds were set aside by members of its successor organisation, the Huddersfield Town Supporters’ Association (HTSA), with a view to preserving and promoting the club’s history. Various ideas were proposed, including a statue and a touring bus-cum-museum, but a few years ago it was decided to create an online archive. Volunteers sourced and digitised tens of thousands of photos, videos and documents, then built a website to host it all. The HTSA Heritage Project launched in July this year at htafc-heritage.com.
Documents on the site are currently divided into 10 collections, including matchday programmes, fan groups, club documents, and an archive that has been donated by the Terriers’ historian John M Ward. There is also a timeline of the club, and the opportunity to watch footage of matches that took place between 1989 and 1992.
There’s also a database of 1,000 footballers reaching back to the club’s foundation, created by Ward with the help of other fans. This provides a sketch of each player’s career, including his previous clubs; the date he joined Huddersfield; the date, opposing team and final result of his debut match; the league he played in; his position and club number; and the clubs he went on to play for.
“For fans, football is emotional, nostalgic and sentimental,” says Robert Pepper, chair of the HTSA
The club has a distinguished past of which many may be unaware
Heritage Project. “This is especially true for those who support provincial clubs that can’t buy success – or are only dimly familiar with the concept in the first place. Fans will spend hours reminiscing about this game or that game, which player scored where, when such and such happened, and whom they were with at the time. We’re all amateur historians, whether we know it or not. It’s important that we’re able to indulge that side of ourselves. The resource we’ve created hopefully makes it easier for people from di erent walks of life to do just that.” Robert continues, “There’s also the fact that the club has a distinguished past of which many may be unaware. We’ve been to five FA Cup finals and even prevailed in one of them. We’ve won the top flight of English football three times, becoming the first ‘Thrice Champions’.”
The website sheds light on the history of Huddersfield’s women’s team too, with a dedicated collection and timeline. Huddersfield Atalanta Ladies Football Club was founded in 1920, with 15,000 locals turning up to watch its first match. However, the club was disbanded after the Football Association banned women’s football in 1921. Its modern replacement Huddersfield Town Women Football Club was founded in 1988.
Robert explains, “We don’t want girls and women to think that they’re not part of the story of football in Huddersfield and beyond. They are, and they’ve played a starring role.”