HUDDERSFIELD Giants have never known a day quite like it!
A crowd of 15,629 packed in to the Galpharm Stadium last Sunday as the Giants recorded their highest home attendance in Super League.
It smashed Huddersfield’s previous best for a game in the new summer era by over 3,000, when 12,417 watched the club’s first appearance in Super League against Bradford Bulls in April 1998.
Unfortunately, the results on both those occasions were hugely disappointing.
But, that apart, the events six days ago against champions Leeds Rhinos were another sign of the continuing progress being made by the Giants in the competition.
And the timing certainly couldn’t have been any better, with clubs now having to apply for a Super League franchise for 2009, and the ability to attract a crowd counting considerably in a club’s favour.
It’s a widely held view that any club that can attract an average home crowd of around 10,000 is a dead cert for a franchise.
Last season, Huddersfield’s average was just over 7,000 – their highest in Super League – and, hopefully, on the back of an opening-day crowd of 15,500-plus, that 10,000 mark could become a reality.
It’s something Huddersfield Rugby League supporters could only have dreamed about two decades ago, especially after the club had just attracted a record low of 303 for the League game against Keighley in April 1986 at Fartown.
At that stage, the very existence of the club was in doubt.
Now the main concern for fans is whether coach Jon Sharp’s side can repeat last year’s achievements and finish this season in the top six of British rugby league’s elite competition once again!
With the level of backing seen for the Giants last weekend when over 11,000 were supporting the men in claret and gold, it can certainly be achieved.
Then it would surely be safe to say that Huddersfield had finally returned to those glory days of some 40 years ago when Fartown were regularly in the frame to win the League championship and Challenge Cup, and attracting bumper gates in the process.
After all, the crowd last Sunday was the biggest in just over 40 years.
Not since 16,800 watched Ray Haywood score the winning try in a 9-7 Challenge Cup third-round success over Featherstone Rovers on March 17, 1968 have so many been at a Huddersfield home game.
In fact, the latest Galpharm attendance was the highest League turn-out since 18,217 against Oldham in September, 1957.
For the record, that was a Monday night match, the visitors were the reigning League champions and they took the honours 38-12.
However, the rugby league environment is now completely different, with the number of fans coming through the turnstiles just one of the many positive spin-offs from having a successful side out on the field.
As well as attracting a Super League record home crowd against the Rhinos, the Giants also boasted record levels of corporate hospitality.
Record matchday sales in the club shop were another bonus, with several hundred new shirts being snapped up.
In fact, this season’s KooGa home shirt is already a Giants best seller, with around 1,500 sold so far, and the new-look white shirt rapidly catching up.
Furthermore, the club have now reported the matchday programme sales against the Rhinos beat the previous best mark by 10%.
And director of business development Sean Jarvis couldn’t be happier.
“The people of Huddersfield responded magnificently to the opener at the Galpharm,” he said.
“With crowds coming out in force it naturally had a spin-off for the rest of the operation.
“Having now had time to reflect and analyse the game it proved to be a truly record-breaking day.
“Naturally, we all want this momentum to continue and would urge our fans to keep supporting the team in what promises to be a significant season.”