GERRY MURPHY has been a familiar figure in Huddersfield football for the past 35 years.
He passed his FA coaching qualifications under Jack Charlton at the FA in 1969 and made a big impression locally with Rawthorpe and Bradley Rangers before joining Town, where he's now Academy director.
He fondly remembers Rawthorpe's 50-match unbeaten run in the 70s and winning County Cup finals with Bradley, while at Town the Juniors' wins over Bradford (4-1 in the Youth Cup) and Leeds United (3-2 in the FA Academy Premier League) will always stand out.
But top of the list comes Town's play-off victory against Mansfield at Cardiff last May, when exactly half the squad on duty came through the club's Academy.
"There were times in the not-too-distant past when the value of the Academy was brought into question," said the 61-year-old from Netherton.
"Certain people had no confidence in us, didn't think we were producing people worth contracts and there was even talk of us being closed down for one reason and another.
"But we battled against the odds to keep the Academy going, we got fantastic support from the new board of directors after administration and, last May in Cardiff, that brilliant occasion showed to everyone the value of the Academy to Huddersfield Town."
Murphy watched with Academy staff as six of their scholars (Andy Booth, Anthony Lloyd, Andy Holdsworth, Jon Worthington, David Mirfin and John McAliskey -sub) played in the match, with Phil Senior and Nat Brown on the bench.
"It brought a lump into everyone's throats to see all those lads out there on the big stage wearing Town's colours and it was a fantastic credit to all the Academy staff through the years," he said.
"Full-time and part-time, we are a great team, and we have to thank the board under Ken Davy for all their backing and the manager Peter Jackson for giving our lads an opportunity.
"Andrew Watson gives massive backing as chief executive, and he's always there on a Sunday watching the age-group teams, and Ann Hough (club secretary) has always been a marvellous supporter of the Academy.
"I was pleased for all those people and the team we have in the Academy last May, but more than everything I was pleased for the supporters.
"Seeing all those Town fans around the Millennium Stadium and all those lads who were our own out there on the pitch, I really did feel that that light at the end of the tunnel was not only glowing again, it was shining bright."