I KNOW one of the words I have used on a regular basis this season has been 'proud'.
Some may say I have used it far too frequently, particularly when it was being used at a time when results were not going our way.
But I make no apology for that.
Even when we were struggling with injuries in the second half of the season, the players never complained.
They continued to knuckle down, often playing through the pain, to do everything humanly possible to help the Giants cause.
How could I not feel proud when I was witnessing something like that?
And how can I not feel proud when I look back on what this squad has achieved throughout 2004?
Let's just examine what the boys have done.
They have secured Huddersfield's record number of wins in a Super League season with 12 - beating last year's tally of 11 - to earn seventh spot, the club's highest Super League finish.
For three-quarters of the season we have commanded a top-six spot, despite being the only side in that top six not to boast a single international player.
And at the start of the season the Giants stood at the very top of Super League for the very first time.
In fact, it is the first time in 50 years that a Huddersfield side has remained in the top seven of the top division all season.
Then, of course, there was the Challenge Cup.
Helping Huddersfield reach the semi-final of the competition for the first time in 33 years has to go down as one of the high points.
Unfortunately, St Helens proved far too good for us on the day.
But reaching the last four of rugby league's most famous knockout competition helped raise the profile of the club and put the Giants on the national stage.
Unfortunately, the injuries to key players wrecked the second half of the season.
A key to our early success was that the squad remained largely injury-free and I was able to pick a settled side.
That was a luxury I was seldom afforded towards the back end of the year, although it was noticeable that in our final three games when I was able to pick the same 17 we won two and lost by just a single point at a Wakefield side who had won their previous seven home matches.
But even when we embarked on our disappointing run of seven successive defeats I was proud of the attitude shown by my players.
I thought the way every member of the squad handled the setbacks was a credit to them.
The adversity helped bring the squad closer together and the team spirit at that time was superb.
Yes, I am proud of the Huddersfield Giants!
THIS will be my final column of the season, and it would be wrong of me not to thank the fans for their magnificent support during the course of the year.
I hope they have enjoyed themselves on what has been a real roller-coaster ride of a Super League season.
The messages of support I have received certainly suggest they have savoured the experience.
Those positive messages were most welcome when we suffered that run of seven successive defeats.
Many could see how much we were struggling on the injury front, and when we were doing it so tough the words of encouragement gave everyone a lift, including myself.
For that, I can't thank the fans enough.
The support from the stands has also meant a lot to us.
I know our following isn't the largest in Super League, but I believe our loyal band of supporters are the best in the business, and are a real credit to the club.
Like building a strong squad, building a large fan base takes time.
But I know we are building that base on a very firm foundation.
Together, I know we can continue to go from strength to strength.
Nothing would give the players and coaching staff more pleasure than seeing even more winning smiles on the faces of the claret and gold following.
That's what we are all striving to achieve.
STARS are shining in team triumphs
AS a rule, I don't like to single out individual players for praise.
After all, rugby league is a team game and success depends on the way all 13 players perform as a group on the pitch.
But with the season having now come to an end, I've obviously looked at the contribution made by each individual.
Every member of the squad has made a valuable contribution during the course of the year.
But the first thing that has really struck me is how well all the new signings have performed.
It wasn't long before Sean Penkywicz was making a positive impression, while in the second half of the season his former Halifax teammate Stuart Donlan has really come to the fore.
Stuart Jones has been consistently good all year and Chris Nero has taken an awful lot of handling.
Paul Smith has developed into a Super League player far quicker than I had predicted, and that's been a bonus.
And the mid-season arrival of James Evans from Canberra Raiders has been another massive bonus.
He arrived just as our major injury crisis began to strike, and what a godsend that has been!
The injuries have also meant we've been forced to blood some of our younger players, and I couldn't have asked any more of them.
Paul White, Jon Grayshon and Phil Joseph have all grown in stature and have developed well as a result.
I think the last few minutes of the game against Salford on Sunday summed up just how much progress Paul and Jon have made.
Jon did superbly to come into the line to take an inside pass on halfway and burst clear before feeding Paul for the winning try.
Then Paul backed that up by producing a matchsaving tackle in the last minute to guarantee the season ended on a high