RONNIE JEPSON has many happy memories of Huddersfield – but says they count for nothing now he’s back.
The man installed as assistant to new manager Stan Ternent knows exactly what it takes to win promotion to what is now the Championship.
As a player, he did it with Town, Bury and Burnley, and his new mission is to repeat the feat as a coach.
Back in 1995, when he was a key member of the Town team who beat Bristol Rovers in the play-off final at Wembley, he never thought he’d end up in management.
But that changed after he came under the wing of Ternent, who paid Town £40,000 to take him to Bury in August 1996.
Ternent spotted teaching potential in the man who didn’t enter league football until he was 25, when his local club Port Vale signed him from non-league Nantwich.
He also signed Jepson for Burnley and put him in charge of the youth team, then, when an Achilles tendon injury ended his playing career, the reserves.
Promotion to the senior coaching staff followed, and when Ternent became manager of Gillingham in December 2004, he took Jepson with him.
Ternent’s tenure was only until the end of that season, when, disappointed by relegation to League I, he quit against the wishes of chairman Paul Scally.
Jepson remained at Priestfield, initially as assistant to Neale Cooper, then, after November 2005, as manager in his own right.
He resigned in September after a sluggish start to the current campaign, since when he’s been working as a scout for his old Town boss Neil Warnock at Crystal Palace.
That means he’s had a good look at players up and down this country – and beyond.
“I’ve been all over the place, putting in the miles in this country, Scotland, Ireland and abroad,” explained Jepson, 44, who watched Town beat Brighton 2-1 at the Galpharm last month.
“I’ve enjoyed the work, but I’ve missed coaching, and when the opportunity to come back to Huddersfield came up this week, I jumped at it.
“It’s a club I have an affinity with and there’s a huge amount of potential here.
“Now there’s a guy at the helm who I know can get Huddersfield Town back to the Championship, which is the lowest level they should be playing at.”
Of Ternent, 61, who said he wanted Jepson as his right-hand man after being head-hunted for the Town job, he said: “He doesn’t suffer fools and he has a keen sense of discipline and a huge work ethic.
“The gaffer expects exactly the same from his players and staff, and if it’s not forthcoming, he deals with it.
“He has a proven record of winning promotions, his desire to succeed is second to none and his knowledge is fantastic.
“He’s still as fit as a fiddle, and he’ll be out on the training ground every day, driving the players on. They’ll see his experience, enthusiasm and drive and they’ll respond to it.”
While some may suggest former Burnley and Carlisle player Ternent – who started coaching at Sunderland in 1974 and has given up his job as assistant manager at Derby to come to Town on a three-year contract – is old school, Jepson is having none of it.
“The gaffer’s vastly experienced, but that’s a different thing,” responded Jepson, who is also here until 2011.
“In any walk of life, you never stop learning, and football’s no different. He’ll listen to new ideas and doesn’t dismiss anything lightly. If something helps him get the best out of his players, he’ll utilise it.”
Of his own input, Jepson, who netted 42 goals in 124 Town appearances after signing for £80,000 from Exeter in December 1993, said: “I’ve got exactly the same outlook as the gaffer.
“As a player, I never thought I would, but I love coaching, and Stan Ternent is a great person to work under and learn from.
“Like the gaffer, I’ve got all my coaching qualifications, and I’ve worked my way up the ladder to being a manager.
“I think I’ve earned some of my stripes, but not all of them, and I’m hungry to learn even more.
“I think this is a great club to do that at, and it’s a place where I think the gaffer and myself can achieve success.”
WHILE Ronnie Jepson was taking a new job this week, another popular former Town frontman was losing his.
Duncan Shearer has been booted out as manager of Buckie Thistle, the Scottish club whose 2-1 loss to Cove Rangers all but ended their hopes of winning the Highland League title.
Shearer, who also played for Swindon, Blackburn, Aberdeen and Inverness, had been in charge since 2004.