12:32 15 February 2012
By Dan Nelson
Huddersfield Town's history and honours
Division 1 Champions: 1923/24, 1924/25, 1925/26
Division 1 Runners-up: 1926/27, 1927/28
Division 2 Champions: 1969/70
Division 2 Runners-up: 1919/20
Division 3 (Division 2) Play-Off Winners: 1994/95
Division 4 Champions: 1979/80
Division 4 (Division 3) Play-Off Winners: 2003/04
Division 3 (League 1) Play-off winners: 2011/12
FA Cup Winners: 1921/22
FA Cup runners-up: 1919/20, 1927/28, 1929/30, 1937/38
Associate Members Cup (Autoglass Trophy) runners-up: 1993/94
Record Crowd for a Home Game 67,037 (versus Arsenal, FA Cup Sixth Round 1932)
Record Transfer Fee Paid £1.2m, Marcus Stewart (July 1996, Bristol Rovers)
Record Transfer Received £8m, Jordan Rhodes (August 2012, Blackburn Rovers)
Biggest Victory 10-1, versus Blackpool (1930)
Record Scorer George Brown - 159 Record League Scorers George Brown, Jimmy Glazzard – 142
Away from the pitch:
Examiner Business Awards Community Award 2012
Football League Family Excellence Award 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12
Football League Family Club of the Year 2008
npower League 1 Family Club of the Year 2008, 2010, 2012 npower League 1
Best Match Day Programme 2010
Yorkshire Air Ambulance Chairman’s Award 2012
Yorkshire Air Ambulance Outstanding Partnership Award 2010
npower Best Innovation Award – ‘Terriers Bingo’ 2010 Football League
Best Fan Marketing Campaign – Highly Commended 2009 National Customer Service Awards – Ticket Office Highly Commended 2008
In the town where Rugby League was born in 1895, Association football was not surprisingly a late starter.
The FA had tried to wean locals away from the oval ball by staging a Cup semi-final at Fartown, the home of the Huddersfield rugby club, in 1882, but despite a 6,000 crowd, it was not until 1907 that the first moves were made towards forming a professional club.
According to various accounts playing at Fartown was one option considered by the club's founders, but from 1905 onwards the Northern Union (as the Rugby League was then known) specifically discouraged ground sharing with football teams. Had attitudes then been more open, the subsequent development of grounds in northern England might have been quite different, particularly in Huddersfield, where of course the two clubs now share a purpose-built stadium.
If not Fartown, the Leeds Road recreation fields were an obvious alternative. Well served by trams, they were already used for amateur soccer, having staged the first district final in 1899. In 1907, therefore, the Huddersfield Association Football Ground Co. was formed, and with capital of £500, set about purchasing the site. A pitch was laid out parallel to Leeds Road (that is, at right angles to the subsequent layout), and was ready to stage its first match, a local semi-final in March 1908.
Six months later Huddersfield Town AFC was launched. The club's beginnings at Leeds Road were modest enough. There were no turnstiles or covered areas, and no dressing rooms; players changed in an old tramcar, a tent or a nearby pub. Ian Thomas' history tells how one player, presumably a fit one, was paid six shillings a week to roll the pitch after each game.
Leeds Road was officially opened in September 1908 with a friendly v Bradford Park Avenue. Yet so confident were the directors that Town could emulate Bradford by gaining membership of the Football League that within two years, though still a modest Midland League outfit, they invited the ubiquitous Archibald Leitch to draw up plans for the complete reconstruction of the ground. Estimated at £6,000, Leitch's scheme entailed turning the pitch by 90 degrees and constructing a 4,000 seat stand on similar lines to his earlier designs for Fulham, Chelsea and Spurs, that is with a paddock in front and a pitched roof enhanced by a central pedimented gable.
The Leeds Road End would be covered at the rear with a basic wooden roof, and the two other banks of open terracing built up to provide a capacity of around 34,000. With Leitch's impressive (if somewhat familiar) plans in hand the directors then set off to London in June 1910 to persuade the Football League to make Town its newest member. Their sales talk succeeded, and work on the redevelopment began days later (in stark contrast to today's more drawn-out planning procedures).
May 1912 - the club sank into liquidation George Binns' history of the club shows photographs taken to record the extraordinary progress achieved in making the ground ready for League football by September, although the official opening, by League president John McKenna, followed a year later, on 2 September 1911. (Yet another club historian, Terry Frost, has noted that this was exactly three years after the original inauguration).
The West Stand, (built by the firm of Humphreys - with whom Leitch often worked at a cost of £3,047) and its facilities had McKenna in raptures. But all was not well. Although a month later the new ground staged an amateur international, Town's gates actually fell, to below 7,000, while the pitch, already re-laid in 1911, deteriorated once more into a quagmire. Apparently the directors considered suing Leitch but they became too bogged down, in debt, and in May 1912 the club sank into liquidation.
Unfortunately the re-launched club fared no better, and in November 1919 the local press abruptly announced that Town, now £25,000 in the red, were moving lock, stock and barrel from Leeds Road to Leeds itself; to Elland Road, which had until the previous month been home to Leeds City (who were disbanded by the FA for financial irregularities). One report suggested that Leeds Road had already been sold off for redevelopment. If the reports were a scare tactic, they worked a treat. Demonstrations and a fund-raising campaign not only staved off the move, but galvanized fans and players alike.
After months of bargaining the club was safe, and even more remarkably, the team went on to reach the 1920 Cup Final and win promotion to Division One. Never has a club turned the corner so dramatically. From near extinction, within seven years Town went on to win a hat-trick of League titles, added to which they were twice runners-up and twice Cup finalists in 1922 and 1928. Their manager for four of these heady years was, ironically, Herbert Chapman, formerly manager of Leeds City during its period of transgression.
From gates of 3,000 before the 1919 crisis, within five months the Leeds Road terracing had to be raised in order to hold over 47,000 fans for a Cup tie v Liverpool. Successive improvements would take this capacity to over 60,000 by the end of the decade. But for all Huddersfield's success and new-found status, improvements to the ground were surprisingly modest. A wooden 'Belfast' roof - later to be known affectionately as the Cowshed - was built over the Leeds Road End in 1929. The directors showed even less adventure two years later by purchasing a 1,300 seat stand from Fleetwood for just £170. (That same season Town's Division One rivals Arsenal spent £45,000 on a stand).
Huddersfield's set of second-hand rows were to be re-erected at the top of the Dalton Bank terrace, but fortunately for those who enjoyed free views from Dalton Bank itself, behind the ground, the foundations proved to be unsuitable. Instead, the stand was made into an L-shaped enclosure for schoolboys and tucked into a corner between the new 'Belfast' roof and the West Stand. Despite these modest additions, when a record 67,037 crowd packed Leeds Road in February 1932, conditions were so uncomfortable that according to the local Examiner many people fainted, two were crushed, and a hundred or so minor injuries were treated in the club's gymnasium. An estimated 5,000 broke through gates on the popular side, while hundreds spilled onto the track. Five years later a barrier collapsed during a Cup semi final.
Yet, as Ian Thomas notes, the club programme reported breezily afterwards, 'Only four people were taken to the infirmary'. Only four! Once more we can only marvel, if hardly explain, how it was that in such conditions more serious disasters did not occur. Town's response during the 1930s and late 1940s was at least positive - they upgraded the terracing with such strong barriers that when tested in the 1970s they were found to be well up to modern standards. Misfortune did strike Huddersfield on 3 April 1950, however, when a fire in the schoolboy's enclosure spread to the West Stand, destroying its roof and upper tier.
Town decamped to Elland Road for their next two games, after which a revamped stand arose the following summer, similar to the original but with a squarer roof and sadly, no Leitch-style gable. After the fire Town's fortunes began to decline. Relegation came in 1952, and the last major construction at Leeds Road occurred during a brief return to Division One in 1955, when a vast cover was built over the Popular Side. Costing £24,000, it was almost identical to one built over Burley's Long Side a year earlier. But there was one unique feature at Leeds Road during the 1950s.
Placed on the Dalton Bank End terrace, this was possibly British football's first electronic scoreboard, a gift from the Dutch company Philips, who had a factory in Darwen and whose PSV Eindhoven team had close ties with Town. (Regrettably, it was vandalized in 1970 and replaced by a traditional manual board thereafter.)
Less innovative but rather more useful was the arrival of floodlights in 1961, financed by the £55,000 transfer of Denis Law to Manchester City. In February 1962 two of the new pylons blew down in a gale - one embedding itself in the pitch. Leeds Road capacity was then 52,000; a total, which fell to 31,000 after the ground, became designated under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act in 1984.
For Town, who had earlier slipped down into the Fourth Division, gates at half that level would have been welcome. As was the case with so many once large grounds built up between the wars, Leeds Road just seemed to shrink away in shame behind its ugly perimeter fences. In 1989 the Cowshed was deemed unsafe and would not reopen for two years. Checks conducted after the Hillsborough disaster reduced Leeds Road still further to 14,000. With each failure and removal of a crush barrier, another little piece of the ground's former glory died.
Yet ironically, life at Leeds Road brightened up at almost the same time as serious plans were being made to abandon the old ground. On August 12 1992 planning permission for a new stadium was granted. Eighteen days later a foretaste of the new ground sharing era was provided when Huddersfield RLFC played their first ever game at Leeds Road, having left the now crumbling Fartown after 114 years.
Off the field a more publicly-orientated attitude gave the club, if not the ground, a new lease of life, so that when the final curtain fell on Leeds Road, the mood was one of optimism rather than resentment. Much of this owed to the proximity of Town's new home. Clearly visible from the old terraces, the steelworks rose up beyond the car park like the sun over the horizon.
This almost tangible sense of renewal was further strengthened by the club's first trip to Wembley in 56 years for the Autoglass Trophy Final. Six days after that emotional outing, Town played their 1,554th and final League game at Leeds Road. Blackpool were the last visitors, losing 2-1, on 30 April 1994, watched by a near capacity crowd of 16,195