THOUSANDS of Town fans turned the streets of Huddersfield into a sea of blue and white last night to honour the club's promotion to
the Championship.

As many as 15,000 supporters, many of whom weren't able to get toWembley on Saturday, paid an emotional tribute to the
players, manager Simon Grayson and chairman Dean Hoyle.

Players and club officials boarded a classic open-top bus - the sameone the team used after winning promotion at Wembley in 1995 - and paraded the League One play-off trophy through the streets.

Hundreds turned up to set the bus on its way from the Galpharm Stadiumat 5.20pm for a 17-minute journey into the town centre for a civic reception at the Town Hall.

The 1965 Leyland bus was bouncing - literally - and driver Greg Lawson twice had to warn the players not to get carried away.

At one point he said over the bus microphone: "The floorboards are only a quarter of an inch thick. Someone's going to end up in my lap! It'snot advisable to jump up and down."

That was the second warning and it did little to dampen the players' enthusiasm.

The players and management milked the moment - and the fans lapped it up.

As the bus trundled its way into town, gears crunching, ceiling groaning, there were smiling faces, painted faces, huge flags, small flags, scarves, shirts of all descriptions. A stunning sight.

Drivers blared their horns in appreciation of a promotion job welldone.

Some fans ran alongside. Everyone had cameras or mobile phonespointed at the top deck.

As the wheezing bus turned into the Ring Road an ice cream van - with jingle playing and Town banner hanging off the back - accelerated hard and overtook in a cloud of diesel and dust, the driver loving every minute.

In places in the town centre the crowd was 10-deep as Town fans young and old strained to get a look at their heroes, and chanted the names.

There was even a guard of honour from Huddersfield's firefighters.At the town hall the players tumbled out to be greeted by Mayor of Kirklees Clr David Ridgway, Deputy Mayor Clr Martyn Bolt and councilleader Mehboob
Khan.

The trophy was then summoned and Mr Hoyle, Mr Grayson and many of theplayers - including 40-goal striker Jordan Rhodes and Wembley hero Alex Smithies - were interviewed on the balcony amid scenes that few will forget.



Mr Hoyle, who slept with the trophy last night, told the Examiner:"This is all about the fans. It's their day.

"They have come out in their thousands and lined the whole route. That shows this club is rooted in the community and that is where it will stay."

Mr Hoyle said he had watched the penalty shoot-out four times now and added: "I still have my hands over my eyes. The players had the resolve and the intent and they wanted it."

Mr Grayson said the Town fans had made it an extra special celebrationfor the players. "It's just fantastic," he said."It's such a thrill to see all these people turn out for this football club and it's great that we can thank the fans for their support.

"The fans are seeing the players in a different light, away from thefootball pitch. The players are taken aback by the whole
occasion."

Mr Grayson, now promoted from League One with three different clubsincluding Blackpool and Leeds, said: "When the opportunity comes you have to grasp it. Not many players get the chance. The players and fanshere have had their disappointments over the last two years and this makes it all the sweeter. The players just want to soak it all in."

Smithies, the highly-rated young keeper who was the penalty hero atWembley, said he had experienced promotion success as a Town fan at Cardiff and knew what Saturday's victory meant on the terraces.

"Only me and Nathan Clarke are still part of the squad from that time but that was a dream, and so is this. I am just so proud
to be part ofthis great club."

Smithies described the parade scenes as "breath-taking" and said: "I just wanted to give back to the fans. They have showed me so much support, I wanted to pay them back. We all need to treasure this day."

Smithies paid tribute to Mr Hoyle and said: "He is a fantastic man whohas put his effort, time and money into this club and he deserves everything for that, and the squad has given him everything in return."

Smithies said the squad was a tight bunch and he said the atmosphere on the four-and-a-half hour coach trip back from Wembley was "electric".
 
"That spirit can take us forward," he said.

"And the Premier League has to be our aim. Maybe not next season but we have to keep moving forward.

"We'll have a few weeks' break - enjoy this feeling - and I want tocome back fit and fighting and push for a place in a Huddersfield Town team in the Championship."

Jordan Rhodes was very much the reluctant hero and avoided as much ofthe fuss as he could - though he couldn't resist the chants of the fansto go out onto the balcony.



"It was a fantastic experience," he said. "It's not about me, it's about the whole team. They have been brilliant this season."

As Oldham-born Scotland international Rhodes was being interviewed bySky Sports' Bryn Law, Scotsman Scott Arfield prodded him inthe
back and grinned: "Jordan Rhodes has never been Scottish!"

The banter continued as someone asked: "Has anyone seen Lee Novak's eyes? He hasn't been able to see straight since Saturday night."

Strapping centre-back Sean Morrison, on loan from Reading, somehow lost his shirt. Tattoos and muscles rippling he said: "I need a shirt badly.

"I am so sun-burned." A shirt was found to cover his modesty.

Later skipper Peter Clarke hailed Rhodes as a "very modest, grounded little fella" who was a credit to hemself and his family.

Rumours continue to surface about multi-million pound bids from the Premier League and Clarke said: "No-one knows what will happen with Jordan but I, for one, would love him to stay.

"He's almost embarrassed by all this attention but that's a measure ofthe lad. He's a star."