No-one will be prouder to see the Huddersfield Giants win at Wigan tomorrow night than lifelong Huddersfield supporter Neil Shuttleworth, who couldn’t think of a better way of celebrating the honour of being made an Associate Director of the Super League club.
Having helped save the old Fartown club in the darkest days of 1988, the Giants life member admits the thought of his beloved Huddersfield playing at Old Trafford in next Saturday’s Super League Grand Final is something he could never have dreamed about at the time. Getting a full side out on the field in the right kit on a weekly basis was his sole focus.
But beating the Warriors at the DW Stadium tonight will guarantee Huddersfield a place in the showpiece finale for the first time, just weeks after Shuttleworth proudly accepted the offer of taking up the Associate Director role.
He was able to say ‘yes’ to his new position on the board after stepping down from his role on the Rugby Football League disciplinary panel. Obviously, only independent individuals with no club allegiance are allowed to serve on such a committee.
And he admits receiving the honour is one of his proudest moments, with success against the Cherry and Whites the icing on the claret and gold cake.
“It’s not often in anyone’s rugby life that you could have three proudest moments, which is now the case after accepting this position with the Giants!” he said.
“And it’s something I could never have imagined when way back in October, 1945 I saw my very first game at Fartown with my dad Ernest.
“My first proudest moment was when, in the club’s darkest days in 1988, there was every chance that the Club would leave the league or fold all together.
“I decided to “come down from the terrace side” and join Mick Murphy’s rescue bid. Along with the late Jim Collins we formed a consortium of three.
“We were deemed acceptable to the RFL and took the club over - or what was left of it - in October 1988. It was a wonderful day when we led the team onto the pitch in their new Claret and Gold kit.
“In due course the three of us did our best to relaunch the club and achieve some respect again within the Rugby League fraternity.
“I became the club’s only full-time employee, working from a portacabin under the old Fartown stand. A part-time kitman, a part-time secretary/wages clerk, and that was it apart from a wonderful set of volunteers led of course by Keith Burhouse and family.
“When I felt I had given my all, it was time to go back to the terrace Side but in my dealings with the RFL I had come to the notice of the then Secretary General, David Oxley. Now that I was free of official club duties he invited me to join the RFL Disciplinary Committee, during which time I was asked to start up what we now know as the Video Review System. I remained connected to the RFL for many years but finally retired at the end of last year.
“Back in 1996 came my second proudest moment came when Bob Scott, the chairman of the club at the time, and his board elected me as a life member of the Club. Of course, I was delighted to accept.
“So when an offer came from Ken Davy, on behalf of the board of directors, just a few weeks ago to become an Associate Director of the club in respect of my support and work over the years I found it hard to take in at first. My sincere thanks go out to them and I hope I can repay their faith in me for years to come.”