Football: Jackson big on pride and passion

Huddersfield old boy rekindles spirit as Terriers find their bite. By Guy Hodgson

A QUIZ question, albeit of the trick variety: which First Division manager also won a championship medal for playing last season? The answer is Peter Jackson, who appeared in enough matches for Halifax Town last campaign to gain a GM Vauxhall Conference gong.

If your reaction is "who?" then it echoes the predominant one that hurtled round Huddersfield when Jackson was appointed manager of the town's football team 11 months ago. Even those who did know quickly added: "Why?"

There is no incredulity now, or if there is it is the delighted type. When Jackson walked through the doors of the McAlpine Stadium last October, Huddersfield were bottom of the First Division, having gained just four points from 15 matches. Even Manchester City were above them.

Now the club head the First for the first time in 26 years, City are so-so in the Second and the only questions concerning Jackson, who resuscitated Huddersfield to 16th last season, are those that ask what he is doing right. It is a chorus that will not quieten if his side convert a 1-1 first leg draw with Everton into a Worthington Cup second round victory at Goodison tonight.

It has been a turn-around as drastic as the difference between their creaking old home at Leeds Road and the futuristic McAlpine Stadium. As to why, the framed Huddersfield colours in Jackson's office bearing the words "Be proud to wear this shirt" gives a clue.

Jackson, a whole-hearted defender who played 150 games for Town in the early 1990s and was captain of the Bradford City team on the dreadful day of the fire 13 years ago, admits to shedding a tear when he was offered the chance to manage Huddersfield, and places huge emphasis on the old- fashioned virtues of spirit and hard work.

"It's a such a famous old shirt, blue and white stripes, and when I was captain here I used to look forward to putting it on," he said. "That's what I wanted to install in the players. There's no secret to what the fans want to see - pride and passion."

If that is a well-trodden if often elusive road to success, Jackson diverted from the norm when he named his assistants. `Never hire a potential successor' is a well-known maxim in football management, and he ignored it only to the extent he appointed two: Terry Yorath and Terry Dolan.

Folly, on the face of it, in a profession so precarious the health warnings could never be dire enough, but something worked. "If you looked at the league table, you couldn't get a bet on us getting relegated," Jackson said of the situation that faced him and the backroom staff when they arrived. "The players did not enjoy training and they didn't enjoy matches. We were getting beaten too easily."

After five successive League victories and only two defeats this season, that has been addressed. Backbone was transplanted with the signing of the former Everton captain Barry Horne while new avenues of attack have been opened by purchasing Ben Thornley, the former Manchester United winger, who snatched the injury-time winner against Wolves on Saturday.

"The critics said we would be off the top of the First Division after 24 hours, but we are still there after two weeks," Jackson said, "and long may it continue.

"We have waited 26 years to be as high as this so I want the fans and everyone connected with the club to enjoy it. It's important to enjoy the good times. We are getting results because of sheer hard work and we're sitting on top of the table because we deserve to be there."

Whether they will remain there in the near future is open to conjecture, because tonight is the first of three away games that could define their destiny. Win those and supporters will add belief to delighted surprise.

After Everton, the Terriers travel to the Reebok Stadium for what Jackson describes as potentially the most difficult trip of the season against Bolton and, next Tuesday, they meet Stockport County at Edgeley Park - a fixture and a 3-0 defeat that effectively ended Brian Horton's spell in charge last season.

Joe Royle and Bruce Rioch were among the names being touted as Horton's replacement at the time, but instead Huddersfield remembered a 36-year- old former player and called Jackson for a Sunday morning meeting. "I had all the emotions," he said. "I was playing for Halifax on the Saturday and how I got through that game I'll never know, because my mind was going: `What questions are they going to ask? What am I going to say?'

"Some ex-internationals or managers with 20 years' experience don't get interviews for a job like this, never mind get appointed, so for a person who was not really known outside Yorkshire it was fantastic. The club gambled on me."

To say Huddersfield collected their winnings is an understatement, and last March Jackson signed a new two-year contract that confirmed his place at the McAlpine. "I love this club," he said. "When I first walked through the doors of the old stadium I don't know what it was but I had the feeling `this is for me'. The day that love disappears will be the day I lose my job."

Corny, maybe, but at a time when media moguls can buy football tradition for the price of pounds 623m, it is refreshing, nonetheless.

No matter what happens tonight, you cannot help but feel Jackson and Huddersfield are worthy of whatever success comes their way. Even a GM Vauxhall Conference medal...

FIRST DIVISION

P W D L F A Pts

Huddersfld 9 6 1 2 15 10 19

Sunderland 8 5 3 0 22 4 18

Birmingham 9 5 1 3 12 7 16

Bury 9 4 4 1 7 2 16

Watford 8 5 0 3 14 12 15

Sheffield Utd 9 4 2 3 15 16 14

Wolves 8 4 2 2 12 7 14

Bolton 7 3 4 0 18 13 13

West Brom 8 4 1 3 17 14 13

Ipswich 8 3 4 1 12 6 13

Norwich 7 4 1 2 12 8 13

Portsmouth 9 3 3 3 16 13 12

Barnsley 8 3 3 2 12 10 12

Grimsby 9 3 2 4 10 10 11

Stockport 9 2 4 3 9 12 10

Swindon 9 2 2 5 13 20 8

Crewe 8 2 2 4 12 14 8

Bradford C 8 2 2 4 10 13 8

C Palace 7 2 2 3 7 11 8

Port Vale 8 2 1 5 5 14 7

Oxford Utd 9 1 3 5 9 21 6

QPR 8 1 3 4 6 11 6

Bristol City 9 0 4 5 11 20 4

Tranmere 7 0 4 3 4 12 4

Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Call Handler

£14500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a Sales Ca...

Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

£14560 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers unique pers...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor