How Huddersfield Town Are Gearing Up For The Premier League
Huddersfield Town are a club in a hurry.
Since winning promotion on May 29, the Terriers have smashed their previous transfer record six times and embarked on a major upgrade of their stadium facilities and infrastructure in readiness for life in the Premier League.
The first home game against Newcastle is just eleven days away and the clock is ticking.
“It’s been absolute bedlam, operations director Ann Hough, who joined the club in 1993, told The Sportsman.
“From the minute we scored the winning penalty against Reading at Wembley, we’ve not stopped.
“I’m signing off invoices left, right and centre and coming in early and going home late every day to make sure everything is ready.
“Even though the John Smith’s Stadium is a newer build, the Premier League criteria has made huge improvements to it necessary.
“We’ve upgraded our boardroom, corporate hospitality, floodlights, television gantry, hawkeye, camera positions, interview rooms, doping room, female dressing room and media suite.
“It’s been like a building site and currently we have no dug-outs. I’m hoping that come the visit of Newcastle on August 20, everything will be ready and I’ll be able to sit back and finally breathe.”
Huddersfield have spent around £4m on the stadium improvements – small change when you consider they will receive around £200m for reaching the Premier League.
But it hasn’t always been this way.
Hough can remember 2003 when the administrators were called in and liquidation beckoned. She said: “It was a very bleak time and a Godsend in one way when the PFA put the club into administration on behalf of the players.
“The staff here were absolutely incredible and the spirit we showed enabled us to start the 2003-04 season.
“The supporters raised a lot of money by doing a walk to Barnsley and were a massive part in keeping the club going.
“They were amazing and the spirit at the club showed was similar last season when we won promotion.”
This is the ‘Terriers spirit’ that charismatic German boss David Wagner often refers to and so successfully harnessed among players and supporters during a fairytale campaign.
Way back in 1919, Huddersfield supporters fought tooth and nail to stave off a dreaded merger with Leeds United, setting the stage for the club to famously win three successive league titles in the 1920s. James Chisem, secretary of the Huddersfield Town Supporters’ Association, told The Sportsman: “Last season felt like reward for the loyalty of the fans who had been through thick and thin.
“The day after we had won promotion, there was a victory parade in St George’s Square in Huddersfield.
“Wagner told supporters that it doesn’t matter how big or experienced your opponent is, if you have passion and desire then there are no limits to what you can achieve in life.
“Later that night, some players joined supporters in town centre pubs and joined in the singing and party atmosphere, which showed how close the bond had become.
“With Wagner in the dugout and a full stadium every week, don’t be surprised if we manage to pull off another miracle by staying up. Stranger things have happened.” Chairman and owner Dean Hoyle, who grew up supporting the Terriers and made his fortune selling greeting cards, took over in 2009, six years after the club almost ceased to exist.
Hoyle is central to the club’s rags-to-riches rise and Hough adds: “Dean is a hard taskmaster and throws grenades in when you think ‘Oh my God, not again!’ “But he knows what he wants, he gets what he wants and we’re all there to help him because he pays the bills. He’s realised his dream by reaching the Premier League.”
Huddersfield have sold over 20,000 season tickets and ambition pulses around the West Yorkshire club louder than ever ahead of their first top-flight campaign since 1972. Hough adds with a huge smile: “It still feels like a dream.”
For the people of Huddersfield, it promises to be another season of such emotion.