It’s time to talk Huddersfield up
THERE have been two types of promotion in Huddersfield in the last few weeks.
One sort was celebrated by 15,000 Terriers fans in the town centre on Monday evening as the Championship’s newest team met their adoring public following Saturday’s epic League 1 play-off final.
This is what many of us think of when we hear the word “promotion.”
But there is another definition of the word – to encourage or talk up. It is this form of promotion which has been practiced at some of the town’s main roundabouts in the last few weeks.
If you drive you’ve probably noticed the signs at Ainley Top and Bradley Bar saying things like: “Barack Obama likes the cut of Huddersfield’s cloth. True or False?”
The notices have been put up as part of a new campaign called Huddersfield – The Place To Make It which aims to promote the town as a place to live and work.
The questions on these signs celebrate the town’s achievements, including making the sort of high-quality garments which appeal to the world’s most powerful man.
Hopefully the first kind of promotion – the one involving goalkeepers taking penalties – will encourage the other type, the one with signs on roundabouts because Huddersfield needs to do a lot more promotion.
Like most comer-inners who have chosen to live in this part of the world, I think Huddersfield is wonderful. I love the area’s history, its landscape, its real ale and its no-nonsense locals who never mistake a spade for a soil-redistribution device.
But the one area where the town lets itself down is self-promotion. Huddersfield just doesn’t brag enough.
Perhaps being located between the two swaggering northern cities of Leeds and Manchester has led to a certain shyness on the part of the people of this town.
To demonstrate my point, allow me to explain what I knew about Huddersfield before I moved here six summers ago.
I didn’t know that it had been a centre of the textile industry and was now a hub of engineering and high-tech manufacturing.
I was unaware that Huddersfield had once been home to more millionaires per head of population than anywhere else in the country, or that it had more listed buildings than Bath.
I didn’t realise that my gran’s favourite TV programme was set in the beautiful countryside around the town.
I’m a political anorak, yet I had no idea about Huddersfield’s historic links to the Luddites, its strong liberal tradition or the fact that the first ever constituency Labour party was established here.
I hadn’t the foggiest notion that the town was the birthplace of rugby league and I’d never heard of Castle Hill or Emley Moor Mast.
I knew of Gorden Kaye, Harold Wilson, Roy Castle, James Mason and Patrick Stewart. But I wasn’t aware that any of them hailed from the Huddersfield area.
And, most shockingly of all, I’d never heard of Kirklees Council. If you had asked me to guess, back in 2005, I would have said it was a local authority somewhere outside Glasgow.
In fact, before I moved here, the only things I knew about Huddersfield were things I knew about Town.
I knew the Terriers had had a good team in the mid 90s under Neil Warnock.
I knew they had a young striker called Andy Booth who went off to Sheffield Wednesday.
And I knew that Town played at the McAlpine Stadium, the first and most distinctive of the new breed of football grounds which started popping up in the mid 1990s.
But that was it. That was the extent of my knowledge about this wonderful place.
This suggests two things. Firstly, that this town really needs to work on its self-promotion. And secondly, that a football team is central to a place’s sense of identity.
That’s why even people who hate the beautiful game should be delighted that Town triumphed at Wembley on Saturday.
It’s good news for all of us that the club have just moved up a notch. No more away days to Yeovil, Hartlepool and Bournemouth. It’s off to Birmingham, Cardiff and Nottingham next season.
And I understand there will be a wee trip a few junctions along the M62 as well.
The Terriers will be getting more attention on the national stage now they have moved up to what old stagers like me still call the Second Division.
Let’s hope Town’s promotion helps the town’s promotion.