KEITH SOUTHERN has ridden the Blackpool roller-coaster – now he’s ready to climb hills in Huddersfield.
And the 31-year-old refuses to rule out another sortie into the Premier League.
“Nobody at the club is getting carried away, but you have to have targets,” said the £300,000 recruit, who left Bloomfield Road after 10 years having played in League I, the Championship and the top flight and earned a testimonial against his first club Everton.
“When we first got into the Championship (in 1997, with Simon Grayson at the helm), people would have laughed at the suggestion we could make it to the Premier League.
“But we were an honest, hard-working group and we had some really talented players, not unlike Huddersfield.
“We established ourselves in the Championship, and, in the season we went up (2009-10), built some real momentum to get into the play-offs, then win through them.”
Once in the top flight for the first time since they accompanied Town out of the old Second Division in 1970, the sceptics said the Seasiders’ credentials were about as solid as a stick of candy floss.
But Ian Holloway’s men kicked off with a 4-0 romp at Wigan and chalked up a double over Liverpool and sweet successes against the likes of Newcastle and Tottenham.
They were just two points away from survival at the end of the campaign, and made the Championship play-off final last season, with Southern an unused substitute in the 2-1 Wembley defeat by West Ham.
Hugely popular with the Pool faithful, the Gateshead-born player, who fought his way back into the side last season after undergoing surgery for testicular cancer, made 375 appearances for the club and admits it was tough to leave.
But having agreed a two-year contact, he’s excited by his change of surroundings and more than happy to be reunited with Town chief Grayson.
“We were playing colleagues before he became manager, and he likes to say he taught me everything I know,” smiled Southern.
“Everything might be an exaggeration, but he’s been a big influence. He has now won three promotions with three different clubs, so you have to say he knows how to put a successful side together.
“We have some good young players and some, like Alan Lee and my old Everton and Blackpool teammate Peter Clarke, with plenty of experience.
“And in Jordan Rhodes and Lee Novak, we have lads capable of scoring goals, so if we can defend and get the supply lines going, who knows?”