THE FA Cup holds a host of happy memories for Geoff Hutt.
And the former Town favourite will be delighted if the current team can go on the kind of run which would give them victories to look back on in future years.
Hutt, now 60 and still a regular at the Galpharm, made his Town debut as a 19-year-old in the fourth-round clash with West Ham at Leeds Road.
A bumper 30,992 turned out to see Ian Greaves’ Second Division side take on the top-flight Hammers, whose line-up included World Cup winners Bobby Moore, Geoff Hutt and Martin Peters.
Hutt, pitched into action after regular left-back Billy Legg suffered a serious throat injury in a car accident, marked Harry Redknapp in what was the first of 277 Town appearances over eight very varied seasons in which the club played in all four divisions.
The FA Cup provided similar ups and downs.
When Town won promotion to the top tier in 1969-70, they suffered a shock third-round defeat by lowly Aldershot.
The following campaign brought a fourth-round marathon with Stoke, who finally won a second replay 1-0 on neutral territory at Old Trafford, with a combined total of more than 113,000 watching the three ties.
In 1971-72, Greaves’ side made it to the quarter-finals for only the second time in Town’s post-War history, with sweet revenge being gained over West Ham in the fifth round, when Town won 4-2 before going out in controversial circumstances at Birmingham.
And in 1975-76, by which time the club had tumbled down to Division IV, Hutt featured in the only Town side to beat today’s hosts Port Vale in the FA Cup to date (2-1 at Leeds Road in round two).
The previous season’s finalists Fulham were overcome 3-2 in a Craven Cottage in a third-round cracker before Greaves returned to Huddersfield with Bolton, who were 1-0 winners in a fourth-round clash seen by 27,894.
“The FA Cup is a fantastic competition, and even now, I still get that flutter of excitement when it comes around,” explained Hutt, who lives in Mirfield.
“It’s particularly special to me because I made my Town debut in what was a huge match against West Ham.
“They were a great side, full of big names, but like a lot of London sides at the time, they weren’t that keen on travelling, especially up North.
“It was a cold, dank day, there were clouds of strangely-coloured smoke from the nearby gasworks drifting around, and they looked far from at home.
“Greavesie had us well up for the game, and as a young and impetuous player, I remember leaving Harry Redknapp on the gravel track which ran around the pitch on more than once occasion.
“He came up smiling, and West Ham deservedly beat us that day, but we gained revenge when they came back three seasons later.”
This time Jimmy Lawson, Terry Dolan, David Smith and Frank Worthington were on target as Town thrilled their fans in a 27,080 crowd.
“Coming up against big Clyde Best sticks in my mind, and it was a superb day,” said Hutt.
“We were really struggling in the First Division, but we just clicked that day and got a really memorable result.”
Town again got the better of former England skipper Moore when Fulham were defeated in the capital in January 1976.
“That was a really enjoyable game,” added Hutt.
“They’d got to the final the year before, funnily enough losing to West Ham at Wembley, and with them in Division II and us in Division IV, few people gave us a prayer, yet once again, we played above ourselves.”
“Terry Gray, who was a nippy winger, scored twice (Lawson got the other) and we had a centre-back called Chris Simpkin, who really tore into them.
“It wasn’t plain sailing, and we had to hang on at times, but we got through and it was great to come up against Bolton and Greavesie, who had done such a great job as Town manager.
“I remember the crowd was so much bigger than we were getting for our league games, a real throwback to earlier times, and we gave them a good game before losing out narrowly.”
Even after Hutt left Town at the end of last season, there was still time for another FA Cup exploit.
After playing for Dutch club Haarlem and York, he joined Halifax, who shocked Manchester City 1-0 at The Shay in the third round 1979-80.
“It was a really wet day and the pitch was a mudheap,” said Hutt.
“They had Steve Daley, the million-pound player, and we won with a late goal by a lad called Paul Hendrie, whose son Lee played for Aston Villa and is now at Derby.
“It was the kind of game which summed up what the FA Cup is all about, and of all the rounds, the third is the big one because it’s where the top teams come in.
“I remember Town beating Birmingham a couple of seasons ago, and going on to play in front of a capacity crowd down at Chelsea in the fifth round, and it would be fantastic if we got past Port Vale today and drew a big team, preferably at home.
“Promotion is the priority, and I think Lee Clark has built a side who are capable of doing it, but the cup creates excitement and is also a great source of revenue.”