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30 April 2020

A look back at Trevor Cherry’s time at Huddersfield Town

- Special interview feature with the late Trevor Cherry
- Trevor recalled his fondest memories at Huddersfield Town
- Rest In Peace Trevor Cherry 1948-2020

It’s a good job for Town and Leeds fans that Trevor Cherry didn’t always do what his parents told him to do.

Firstly, Cherry’s mum advised her son against a career in football before he joined Huddersfield Town as a teenager.

And then a few years down the line, the young defender went against the wishes of his dad when he moved to nearby Leeds.

Both sets of supporters should count themselves lucky Cherry had a stubborn streak because he served both clubs with distinction.

Not only did he help Town into the top-flight of English football but then he did his bit to propel Leeds to the pinnacle of the English game and won 27 England caps while he was at it.

“It’s fair to say I had a strange start as a footballer,” Cherry explained.

“My mum didn’t want me to become a footballer so she wouldn’t let me join Huddersfield Town as an apprentice.

“She loved football and watched me play for Town a lot but just didn’t see it as a proper job.

“Thankfully, I had a good blend family-wise. Mum kept my feet on the ground but dad, who was a mad-keen footballer, would have let me play for Town for nothing.

“My mum loved her sport, she was a good swimmer herself, but education was more important to her than football.

“Fortunately I proved her wrong but for everyone that does make a living out of the game there are thousands who don’t. If they skip schoolwork it leaves them with their thumb in their mouths.

“I saw where my mum was coming from and to be honest you never know you are good enough.

“I played with lads a lot better than me at 13, 14 and 15 who drifted away. You think ‘if they don’t make it then what chance have I got?’ so there are always doubts. There always are if you’re a professional footballer.”

Cherry worked his way up Town’s ranks but his route into professional football was unconventional as he started off as a part-time footballer.

“I started off my working life as an apprentice electrician,” he said. “Mum was so against it because she knew that most would-be footballers got kicked out of the game and if you’d not looked after your education you were in trouble or you’d end up in a dead-end job.

“It worked out that I trained and played at Town and went part-time for a bit, working for the club chairman, Roger Kaye, down at Cliffe and Co, and when I turned 17 Town asked me to go full-time.

“But I struck a deal with my mum that meant I’d go to night school to do book-keeping as well. It sounds laughable now but it was the only way I could do it.”

Huddersfield-born Cherry was brought up by parents Bill and Rose in Newsome where he attended Stile Common and Newsome schools and his footballing prowess quickly became apparent.

“My headmaster was football-daft,” Cherry said. “We used to skip maths lessons when we had big games and I’d lead the lads out so we could have an extra practice session.”

Cherry played for Town Boys and also furthered his education at Huddersfield YMCA’s Laund Hill ground where his dad, who represented the Army at football, also played.

“I played for the YMCA Under-16s when I was 14/15 and when the Under-18s were a man short they’d take me with them,” Cherry recalled. “That was a real privilege; great experience. They were good lads who could look after you.

Cherry and his dad were also regulars on the Leeds Road terraces.

“My father was blue and white through and through, Huddersfield Town-daft,” Cherry said.

“In those days it was a case of what time’s kick-off, not ‘are we going to watch Town?’ We’d virtually never miss a game if we were about.

“I missed some of the Saturday matches as I was playing myself but for night games we’d either walk down or catch one of the old trolley buses to Fartown and walk across.”

He evidently learned a lot from those visit to Town’s old home as he moved up the ranks.

“I was playing with Town juniors which was a great honour and I had it in my head just to play for the reserves in the old Central League and when that comes along you think it would be great to get a game in the First Team,” Cherry said.

“When it did happen it was by accident; a real coincidence. I was in the Leeds Road stand waiting to watch a game at Easter time in the days when there was just one sub and that was Tony Leighton who refused to be sub because he’d been dropped and he went off home. They even did it in those days.

“I’d had chicken and chips for lunch, ended up on the bench and then the centre-half, John Coddington, who was up against Derek Dougan, had his cheekbone broken after 15 minutes. We were losing 1-0 and lost 1-0 in front of 30,000+ fans.”

Cherry didn’t look back. “I was dead keen and I ended up taking the place of Mick Meagan, an Ireland international who was a smashing bloke and he did his best to help me along,” he continued.

“I battled my way into the team and when I got in there I stayed there. The one thing I did have to my advantage is that my attitude was always great. My dad always taught me that I had to play as if it was my last game.

“He wasn’t one to give me any toffee. I never played well in my father’s eyes with a couple of exceptions, which wasn’t a bad thing. He kept my feet on the ground.|”

There were, for Cherry, “lots of ups and downs but mainly ups at Town” but he would leave with a heavy heart when Town were relegated in 1971.

“Ian Greaves put together a really good side but the problem is that when we got up we just couldn’t get anyone to join us,” he said. “It’s only later as you get older that you realise it was because the Club wouldn’t pay the money.

“I was very sad because I loved the Club and got on magically with Ian Greaves, who was great with me, but I told him I’d have to leave for the sake of my career. He said that was fine, he’d let me go, but then all of a sudden four other lads asked for transfers.”

It was a mark of Cherry’s progress in those 188 Town games and Leeds boss Don Revie’s eye for a good player that he was lured to Elland Road, which was then home to one of the mightiest clubs in England.

“Leeds United came in for me which my dad wasn’t too happy about, as you can imagine,” said Cherry.

“In the end he accepted it but at the beginning he didn’t. In fact, he didn’t want me to go to Leeds full stop. He didn’t think it was a good move. He was a bit blinkered.

“Mum was more open-minded about it because the other options were Birmingham and Tottenham, which was a long way away, and I had a young family at that point and she was happy for me to stay close by.”

His dad would eventually come round once his son helped Leeds win a string of major honours under Revie following a £100,000-move.

“Don Revie as brilliant,” Cherry said. “He treated me like a son. It was like follow-on from Ian Greaves who was great with you as long as you had a go for him and gave your best.

“Ian wouldn’t put up with non-triers and he was a big bloke to argue with as well. Revie was a real family man and a great manager.

“Leeds United is a great club but it was a shame it was next-door to Huddersfield Town. I could justify the move in the end because I got 27 England caps.”

He played 476 appearances for Leeds, but that international recognition means most to Cherry.

“I count myself very fortunate in that both my parents saw me play for England,” Cherry said. “That was a great honour but my parents being there made it extra special. It was a horrible night in wales but it was still great. It’s what every young boy should want to achieve.”

Rest In Peace Trevor Cherry 1948-2020.

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