Ken Davy Saved Huddersfield Town…

…and he saved the best bits for himself. Ho ho, I’m here all week! At the risk of levity intruding on what is a very serious situation, let’s have a little reappraisal of where we find ourselves.

Ken v Dean
From his own rose tinted reminiscences, Ken recollects that he ran away to sea to become a cruise ship photographer and while he was living a life on the ocean wave, his family moved. Whether they advised him of their forwarding address is seemingly not recorded. Dean, however, became involved in Town when the banality of the entertainment on offer at the McAlpharm Stadium sank to such a level that Dancing on Ice represented a very real aspiration in watchability terms. To quote an amusing phrase first used on the Down at the Mac interweb site by seasoned contributor Captainslapper, ‘Carlsberg don’t do Chairmen, but if they did…’ Carlsberg don’t do beer worth drinking either, but that’s another story.

Short History Lesson 1
Town: founded in a staunch Rugby League borough, almost merged with L**ds, became the most famous club football side in the world with the first triple Championship, experienced mixed fortunes for decades, employed Bill Shankly but failed to back him (he later remarked that it could have been Town rather than Liverpool that became the dominant force in European football), returned to the top flight with exciting players like Frankie Frankie Frankie Frankie Worthington (feel free to join in), sank like a stone, rose from the ashes with Mick Buxton (is God), had several years of moderate success (despite Black Saturday at Maine Road), were bought by (and almost destroyed by) a L**ds fan, were bought by a Rugby League fan, were bought by a true fan.

Short History Lesson 2
The Stadium: Town originally played at the wonderfully atmospheric Leeds Road, where 67,032 people once crammed in to watch the back of someone’s head. The lease on this ground was sold for £7m. This, together with several football grants, was the major finance behind the new Stadium. New signs were erected in the town, thousands of window stickers were printed proclaiming, ‘I’m following Town at the new Kirklees Stadium’, tickets were printed…whoa back up a little, Kirklees Stadium? Yes, the original name was subject to a late substitution before a ball had been kicked in anger and hastily modified road signs and a skip full of window stickers heralded the new McAlpine Stadium.

Short History Lesson 3
Huddersfield RLFC: Once briefly the Barracudas, who would in the future follow the American Football inspired Super League diktat and become the Giants, meanwhile played at Fartown; at a ground once grandly and erroneously renamed Arena 84 (sniggers up sleeve). Fartown, once a force in Rugby League and known as the Team of All Talents, had had a few lean years since the glory days – almost folding on many occasions. The new Stadium – in which they would be gifted a 20% stake – could perhaps provide new stability? Fartown’s contribution to the building of the new Stadium was (according to official records): a waste paper basket (slight dent to rim), two rolls of Sellotape (one unused), a packet of slightly soggy Custard Creams, a small RL grant.

A New Dawn
Yea verily, so it came to pass that the Stadium ownership was split between the Council (40%), Huddersfield Town (40%) and Huddersfield RLFC (20%). The future was rosy; Town were promoted in their first season at the McAlpine. The Giants, as they were required to become, were promoted to Super League; this was despite being pipped to the only promotion spot by Hull FC. Such was the kudos of hosting rugby league at the new stadium (Royal Institute of Architects Building of the Year and blueprint for a myriad of imitators) that Super League invented a second promotion spot and, though Hull FC held the paltry title of ‘Champions’ (pah!), Fartown were crowned ‘Not Quite Good Enough But With a Ground That will Look Quite Good on Sky TV of the Year 1998’. A mouthful – certainly, ungrammatical – definitely, financially lucrative – undoubtedly.

As luck would have it, finishing almost every season in the bottom position of Super League – colloquially known as ‘the relegation spot’ – would not require the Giants to be demoted. The demise of a fellow Super League side, merger with (and subsequent oblivion) of another (don’t mention Ken’s name in Sheffield, by the way), the failure of yet another side to meet the ground requirements to be admitted to Super League, the presence of two similar contiguous letters in the Club’s name, the failure of ‘Floral Dance’ by the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band to reach number 1, the removal of one of the pieces of sandpaper from a box of Swan Vestas were all cited by Super League as reasons why the McAlpine Stadium…(cough), Huddersfield Giants should remain in the top flight come what may. Though due to an administrative error, the Giants were temporarily placed in a lower division for one season before good sense and vested interests prevailed. Fortunately, once Huddersfield Town were brought under the same corporate umbrella, the Giants were able to consistently finish much higher up the table.

Getting Better All the Time (or is it?)
After Town had been purchased by a rich L**ds fan (known in espionage circles as Agent Rubbery), the future seemed bright. An ambitious young manager was lured to the Club and any suggestion that he had been tapped up by Town was usefully quashed by an independent panel of old buffers at the FA. The fact that they were having their afternoon nap at the time was a distinct advantage in the deliverance of this outcome. Apologies once more Sheffield! Money was made available for a series of high profile transfers of multitudinous has-beens and never-will-bes (Kwami Hodouto anyone?) Though it subsequently transpired that this was largely as a result of a multi million pound loan being taken out in the Club’s name rather than a benevolent investment.  After several weeks of backing the Club to the hilt, our man cut his losses with indecent haste and sold our prize goal scoring asset to our closest rivals. At this point I had planned to bring in an eminent scientist to explain the hypothesis of Ipswich going up at our expense, but unfortunately Professor F*ckwit of the University of the Bleedin’ Obvious was unavailable for comment.

Dark Days
From his South Sea Island retreat, Agent Rubbery allowed the gallant David Taylor to pick up the pieces. Though it has to be said that Humpty Dumpty posed an insignificant challenge compared to the one faced by the optimistic former director. Even a catering pack of Copydex, as used by every Blue Peter presenter from John Noakes to Anthea Turner, would fail to secure a lasting fusion of any of the shattered shards of Club that lay waste at the bottom of the League. Let’s not mention Mick Wadswor…bugger. Ultimately, administration was the only realistic avenue remaining. But for interjection by the newly formed Survival Trust (now HTSA) at the Court hearing, the whole job lot could have been flushed down the sink. The Judge was minded to liquidate the Club there and then and only clever Trust footwork persuaded otherwise.

Huddersfield Town Will Flipping Rise Again (or words to that effect)
The town and district rallied, £150,000 was eventually raised to secure the future of the Club. Some was used to keep the Club alive during administration. A buyer was sought. Several bids were put forward (don’t let Cllr Mehboob Khan kid you otherwise). At the eleventh hour (more five to midnight, really), Ken Davy was parachuted in – landing with pinpoint accuracy on Terry Fisher’s bid. It seems that Terry perhaps sustained some injury from Ken’s landing, as he later withdrew from what had become a joint Fisher/Davy bid. The Administrator declared Ken as the preferential bidder, placing his thumb firmly on his nose and wiggling his remaining digits in a yah-boo-sucks stylee at the other interested parties.

An underwhelming period of Ken’s ownership was thankfully cut short when Sir Dean of Hoyle assumed control. In fairness, we did get promotion in Ken’s first season and reached the playoffs in the division above. But Ken never really understood Town, witness his infamous quote when we were in the basement (what had become Division 3),  “Things could be worse, we were once in the Fourth Division you know.” Err, Ken, that’s the division we’re in now, they renamed it after the Premier League started…the Premier League?…a big division at the top of…oh never mind. The realisation that a football club is a very different beast from a rugby club, perhaps dawned? Maybe there was a realisation that £30 a week and a ten bob win bonus placed surreptitiously in the boot after the match would not attract the players that would ultimately deliver success?

The Present Day
So all’s well that ends well. Or is it? What was that ownership split again? Kirklees Council 40% Ken 60% Town 0% Giants (or successors to Sheffield Eagles in reality) 0%. As we now know, Ken (keeping it under his hat) transferred Town’s 40% Stadium Share (or share in the Stadium holding company Kirklees Stadium Development Limited to be precise) into Huddersfield RLFC – renamed Huddersfield Sporting Pride – to keep the Rugby Club’s 20% shareholding company (or 19% depending who you speak to). Keeping up? This was only discovered as the result of a chance investigation by the Survival/Supporters Trust. It would seem that this transfer could not have taken place without the nod from Kirklees. Kirklees were, of course, complicit in the parachuting in of Ken Davy. During the Taylor period, Kirklees, in the guise of KSDL, had supported Town financially. It would have been disastrous for KSDL and the Council should the Club fold (still with me?) Despite the aforementioned Cllr Khan’s assertion that Ken’s was the only bid in Town, there were in fact other interested parties (remember the administrator and the yah-boo-sucks thing?) Those other parties would obviously be looking to write off any KSDL loans in the administration process. If only the Council had known someone who would be sympathetic to KSDL and who the Council could put their KSDL backing behind, someone perhaps with a vested interest in KSDL, perhaps someone already on the Board of KSDL?

Life is full of ‘if onlys’. And that is why we find ourselves at this impasse. It is essential for the long term future of Huddersfield Town that they have their Stadium share returned. Kirklees Council, who have had no problem hiding behind claims of commercial confidentiality when confronted with freedom of information requests to determine their part in the situation, finally seem to acknowledge that there is no alternative. Let’s hope for a speedy conclusion to this long running and damaging saga.

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One Response to “Ken Davy Saved Huddersfield Town…”

  1. maccafan says:

    Brill stuff