Huddersfield Giants chairman Ken Davy yesterday hailed his players the “pride of Huddersfield.”
Speaking at a civic reception for Giants players, officials and volunteers, Mr Davy said: “Huddersfield is indeed the place to make it.”
The Huddersfield Town Hall reception, hosted by Mayor of Kirklees Clr Martyn Bolt, was called to celebrate the Giants’ first RL ‘championship’ triumph in 81 years.
Sunday’s 40-0 victory over Wakefield sealed the Super League leaders’ shield.
Mr Davy said the Giants had won the league “by a country mile” and added: “This is not the end, it is just the beginning of what I believe is a golden future because we now have a platform to build on.
“We have got the monkey off our back and won something.”
Mr Davy, chairman for 17 years, recalled the “dark days” of 2001 when the club was relegated from Super League which he said “tested my resolve.”
He added: “Success is a journey, not a destination and what we have achieved so far is incredibly important for the club and for the town. We should be rightly proud.”
Clr Bolt led the congratulations and said the Giants’ success had been shared by everyone, not just the fans.
“Success on the field is not just good for the club, it is good for the town and the district,” he said.
“You are not just a rugby team, you are ambassadors for Huddersfield and Kirklees.”
Clr Bolt also read a message of congratulations from Huddersfield Olympic medallist Ed Clancy, who watched the Wakefield game on TV.
The cycling champion spoke of his “great admiration” for the Giants players.
Clr Bolt also praised some of the club’s unsung heroes, the long-standing volunteers who usually went unrecognised.
He singled out Mary McCrory and her daughter Stephanie who clean the players’ gym, Nancy Beaumont, who runs the Senior Giants supporters’ club, Ida Rothery, who organised the Fartown Flyers away coaches for many years, and former Fartown director Neil Shuttleworth.
Mary, 76, of Huddersfield, and daughter Stephanie, 52, of Fartown, are cleaners at the gym.
Mary said: “I’ve been doing this for 11 years and I’ll be doing it until I’m 90!
“I’ve been watching Fartown since I was 10. We were in tears on Sunday.”
Mary’s only payment is a season ticket and she said: “I just love it. All the players are brilliant but Shaun Lunt is the cheekiest!”
Nancy, 82, of Golcar, who went to her first Fartown game in 1948, runs the Senior Giants, organising the monthly meetings.
She described the experience on Sunday as “overwhelming” and added: “In the dark days we never thought it would happen.
“I think the players have done really well. It’s a credit to everybody but particularly Ken Davy. Without him it wouldn’t have happened.”
Ida, 88, who lives close to the stadium, said she loved her time running coaches.
“We never had a minute’s problem,” she said. “And there was no drink on my bus!”
Hometown hero Eorl Crabtree, part of that relegated Giants squad and now a title-winner, has also seen the highs and lows.
“It was a fantastic day on Sunday and the fans were superb,” he said.
“The feeling on Sunday was relief but we were always confident.
“We have a different set of lads this year and the leaders’ shield was ours to lose after the first three or four rounds.
“Now the Grand Final is the aim but we have to beat some top teams.
“There’s no doubt we have the ability to beat these teams but it’s down to what happens on the day.”