HUDDERSFIELD TOWN chairman Dean Hoyle has sent a personal message of support to British troops serving in Afghanistan.
Mr Hoyle, interviewed on Afghan-based forces radio station BFBS, told the troops: “You guys do a fantastic job.”
Mr Hoyle was quizzed by radio presenter and Town fan Mike Howarth on the club’s promotion, the future of star striker Jordan Rhodes and prospects for the new season.
Asked if he had a message for the troops, Mr Hoyle said: “You guys are thousands of miles away from home, it’s so remote, but believe you me, you are not forgotten about.
“We had three guys killed from Huddersfield and that really, really hits home.
“We had a service at the football club and invited family and friends down.
“That really hit home and brought more support than you can ever imagine. We think about you all the time.
“You are doing a sterling job. It’s a job I would not be brave enough to do. Thanks a lot to them all.”
Mr Hoyle was also asked about his all-time favourite Town players.
He picked out marauding right-back Malcolm Brown and striker Marcus Stewart but said hot property Rhodes wasn’t far away.
He described Rhodes, who has been attracting the attention of Premier League clubs, as not just a great player but a “cracking lad” as well.
He added: “He is a fine example to anyone who wants to get on in life. He gives credit to everybody but himself.”
Asked if Rhodes would be leaving the Galpharm Stadium this summer, Mr Hoyle said: “There are all sorts of rumours but we all want Jordan to stay.
“If he leaves it is going to be for the right money. Will someone pay that money when he only has League One experience? I’m not sure. He is 22 and has time on his side.
“Unless I sign on the dotted line he doesn’t go anywhere so the pressure is on me!”
Mr Hoyle said that as well as great players the club had had some “poor” ones, though he didn’t name names.
He added: “Every player we sign I tell them that we have never ever been able to afford talent here but what we do recognise is hard work.
“If they put the shirt on and give 100% graft and come off knowing you couldn’t have done any more, you will do for Huddersfield.”
Mr Howarth responded: “What a great boss you are.
“I would have come to work for you if I didn’t have two left feet!”
Referring to Town’s penalty shoot-out play-off victory over Sheffield United at Wembley, Mr Hoyle said his overwhelming emotion was one of “huge relief.”
Businessman Mr Hoyle, who made his fortune in greetings cards, played down Town’s prospects in the Championship.
“In League One we were one of the four biggest clubs but in the Championship we are probably one of the six smallest,” he said.
“The gulf is huge but we have the momentum and the enthusiasm.”
Mr Hoyle said he didn’t expect to repeat the back-to-back League One to Premier League promotions of Norwich and Southampton but the top flight was the longer-term ambition.
“We cannot chase the dream,” said Mr Hoyle, who built up the Card Factory shops chain after starting out selling cards from the back of a van.
“It would be great to have a good go but the fans now have the club under local ownership and on a stable footing.
“The plan is to get the shares in the stadium back – and now we have our first ever training ground. Things are looking good for the future.”
Mr Howarth, who grew up in Lindley, has spent three months presenting the breakfast show for the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) which provides a link between serving soldiers and their families.
He e-mailed Wembley good luck messages from Town-supporting troops to the club and players via the Examiner.
During the interview Mr Howarth told how he had a piece of the old ‘Cowshed’, from Town’s demolished Leeds Road ground, in his parents’ garden for years.