Whether you’re a Huddersfield Town fan or not, it’s hard to deny the compelling story behind the Club’s promotion to the Premier League.
Having finished no higher than 16th in the second tier of English Football since 2000 and after flirting with relegation last season, they were some pundit’s favourites to go down – special mention to Ian Holloway here.
Not one pundit, or anyone else outside of a few optimists (a rarity amongst Town fans) ever believed that Huddersfield Town had a realistic chance of promotion, particularly on a tight budget by Championship standards and with a manager that until a few months ago no one outside of Huddersfield and Dortmund had ever heard of.
But the ‘experts’ hadn’t banked on the determination of Chairman Dean Hoyle and Manager David Wagner and his team to orchestrate one of the greatest achievements in the Club’s history – and that’s saying something for a Club that was the first to win the top division three times in a row, and the FA Cup, albeit close to 100 years ago.
I was fortunate enough to go to the pre-season match against Liverpool last summer. Before the game I was chatting to the Club’s Commercial Director Sean Jarvis who told me that he had a great feeling about the forthcoming season and that it felt like ‘the stars had aligned’. He was right.
But it was with a modicum of hope and a large amount of matter-of-factness – the presiding feeling was “anything’s a bonus” – that a bunch of us from Fantastic and our families and friends travelled to Wembley to watch our team achieve the impossible.
I say ‘our’ team because most of us that travelled were Town fans, but contrary to popular belief – fuelled by the fact that Fantastic have been Club partners at HTAFC for ten years – not everyone who works at Fantastic is blue and white.
I am though – a Town fan that is – having worked at the Club for seven years. I even wrote a book about their best players for the Centenary in 2008. It was whilst working there that we used Fantastic as our outsourced marketing team and, having left Town and PR-ing my way around the Middle East for a number of years, I now find myself working at the agency I used to work with.
Many people call Huddersfield Town the ‘self-styled Yorkshire Club’ and this will have greater resonance in a Premier League with no other representation from God’s Own County.
This moniker was created in 2008 for the Club’s Centenary. One of the first things Dean Hoyle did when he took over the Chairmanship of the Club was to make a statement about his ambitions off the pitch as well as on it and, after consulting Fantastic, ‘The Yorkshire Club’ was born.
(For our other work see: Sheffield United’s latest Forged in Steel campaign, Barnsley’s Be Proud Be Barnsley and Leeds United’s Together campaign).
At Wembley, there was unbridled, unrestrained joy as Schindler netted the winning penalty – particularly from my seven-year-old. It’s moments like that why football is the greatest game on earth. It was a special moment for me, knowing what it meant to my family, friends, to the people I used to work with and the people I work with now.