In 1908, after a meeting at the Albert Pub, Huddersfield Town AFC was born. With capital of £500 they bought the Leeds Road recreation fields and starting building their first stadium. Unfortunately the development of this ground brought about challenges which led to the liquidation of the club only four years later, with a new limited company taking over its assets. The good news is that this construction under the watchful eye of Scottish architect Archibald Leitch convinced the FA to grant Huddersfield entry into the Football League and their days in the regional leagues were over.
The club today known by the nickname “The Terriers” has been referred to in many ways over the years. In 1908-09 they wore red shirts which earned them the tag “The Scarlett Runners”, they have at times been called “The Colnesiders” due to their old ground being located next to the River Colne, upon entering the Football League in 1910 they became known as “The Babes” and today they are called “The Terriers” but masses of supporters then and now have labelled their side simply “The Town”. Huddersfield Town’s biggest derbies have always been against local West Yorkshire rivals Bradford City and Leeds United but neither could be described as particularly heated or controversial.
After a decade in the Second Division, Huddersfield won promotion to the top flight in 1920 with a second place finish and thus began the most successful period in the club’s entire history. Throughout the 1920s, they were a dominant force. In 1922 they won the FA Cup for a first and final time alongside a 14th place finish, before finishing the next six campaigns in the top three, winning three back-to-back Division One championships between 1924 and 1926. Under the management of Herbert Chapman, the foundations of an empire were put down. He signed important players like England international inside forward Clem Stephenson who in many ways defined that era. Up front he placed his trust in unknown 18-year-old George Brown - who went on to score 142 goals in 213 appearances for the club and remains The Terriers’ all time top scorer today. Decisions like these and the success they led to resulted in Chapman’s eventual move to Arsenal, where he won two more First Division titles. A statue of Chapman can be found outside the London club’s Emirates Stadium.
After this period of success, no major silverware has followed and only lower league titles have been won. However, some off-field changes were made. In 1969/70 they adopted their current nickname “The Terriers”, some believe in homage to the famous Yorkshire dog breed, while others attribute the change to the tenacity of then manager Ian Greave’s young side. Later, in 1994, the club moved from its original home of Leeds Road to a modern 24-000 seater stadium initially called the McAlpine Stadium after the construction company which made and sponsored it. The stadium has gone through various other sponsorship deals since then and is now known as the John Smith’s Stadium. On the pitch, Huddersfield mostly competed in the top two tiers of the pyramid but did suffer some low points when they dropped as low as the Third Division and Fourth Division. A particularly nightmarish period came in the early 2000s when the club entered administration and faced liquidation only to be saved by local businessman Ken Davy who stepped in to buy the club and subsequently shepherded “The Terriers” out of danger and eventually into the hands of the next chairman Dean Hoyle.
After a concerted effort to climb two divisions, “The Town” finally made it into the Premier League for the first time in 2017 via the play-offs, ending a top flight exile of 45 years. This remarkable achievement, made after battling relegation each of the previous four seasons, can largely be put down to the acquisition of innovative young German coach David Wagner from Borussia Dortmund II. On a limited budget, he introduced the famed “gegenpressing” style and got the best out of strikers Nahki Wells and Elias Kachunga, among others. He arguably produced another miracle with a 16th place the following season and another promise of Premier League football.
Sadly, it was a bridge too far for “The Terriers” as they finished rock bottom the following season and returned to the Championship. They finished 18th in their first season back in the second tier last season, not achieving the immediate return for which many fans would have hoped but few pundits would have predicted. After a couple of transitional managers, fans will hope that their current boss Carlos Corberán can prove to be another shrewd signing of a young, talented manager and can surely be optimistic that he can take the lessons he learned as the assistant to legendary coach Marcelo Bielsa in Leeds United’s title winning side last season and turn them into promotion for “The Town”