Mention Huddersfield Town’s John Smith’s Stadium and my mind inevitably goes to that iconic beer advert starring Peter Kay.
You remember the one, where a bunch of lads were doing fancy keep-ups among themselves and the ball eventually goes to Peter Kay, who launches it into a nearby garden while saying “‘Ave it!”
Well, there was plenty of mention of it in the Hoppers Guide HQ leading up to the weekend, because that would be this week’s destination.
My only previous visit to Huddersfield Town was way back in April of 1991.
A sunny day at Leeds Road and a 3-0 hiding for Stoke City. What I remember most about that day though, were stones crashing up into the fence behind the away end after the game.
Not a nice experience but luckily, I don’t think anyone got hurt by one.
This time around, I would be visiting the Terrier’s new(ish) John Smith’s Stadium for the first time and I was hoping the experience would be a more pleasant one.
The day started early again but today, it was by design, rather than necessity.
This was down to a combination of cheaper train tickets and things we wanted to do once in Huddersfield.
We set out at 07:35 to catch the 07:46 bus to Durham. This would leave us plenty of time to grab some breakfast before scaling Mount Durham to the train station.
The bus rolled in just before 08:00 and we were waved on by a frustrated-looking driver. For the second time in a fortnight, we were getting a free ride due to the payment system not working.
The driver then spent a few minutes on the phone, presumably asking his bosses what he should do. We eventually set off around 08:05 and arrived in Durham thirty minutes later.
This still left us plenty of time to get some pastries from Greggs and admire the new bus station.
Taking just over three years and costing a mere £10.4 million… At least it has toilets now.
Once at the station, we ate our breakfast and boarded our train on time, setting off at 09:00.
An uneventful and uninterrupted journey landed us in West Yorkshire at 10:40.
Huddersfield is a market town in West Yorkshire.
It has a population of around 163,000 and was a prominent mill town during the boom years of the textile industry in the UK.
Huddersfield was a major centre for the Luddite movement that came to the fore as machinery started to replace human workers.
Famous natives include former Prime Minister Harold Wilson, great Hollywood actor, James Mason and David Brown, he of tractor company fame.
Those are some of the facts but what about our experience of the town on a matchday?
St. George’s Square
Huddersfield train station has nothing remarkable about it from the inside. Indeed you could be on any train station in the UK if it wasn’t for the signs proclaiming it as Huddersfield.
Once outside, and onto St. George’s Square though, turning back to take a look at it, it becomes far more noteworthy.
Designed by James Pigott Pritchett, the neo-classically fronted Grade I listed building, was opened in the 1850’s.
If Trafalgar Square was to have a train station, this would be perfect.
Standing in front of this spectacular station building is probably Huddersfield’s most prestigious native, Harold Wilson.
Wilson was the leader of the Labour Party from 1963 to 1976. During six of those years, 1964 to 1970, Harold Wilson was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
No more fitting place for his statue to be located, than being the first thing you see as you enter Huddersfield.
Mrs Hopper is a keen crafter and during my research leading up to Saturday, I noticed Byram’s Arcade.
Far from being the sort of place where misspent youth was wasted feeding coins into slot machines, this arcade was a throwback to days gone by.
A series of independent shops in an old-fashioned and quaint-looking building was just up her alley. Even better, there was an art and craft shop and a wool shop.
While these things don’t appeal to me, Mrs Hopper is an absolute trooper and travels the country at my side to watch a sport she isn’t that bothered about. Only fair then, that we go to places like this when we get a chance.
After a stroll around both shops and a ball of unspun wool purchase later, we went upstairs to see what else there was.
We found a loose tea shop on the second level and what a friendly, chatty owner Matt was.
The aroma in this place was amazing!
We discussed his business (and ours) and he was kind enough to give us a couple of samples of his wares.
Seriously, if you like tea, then please visit this shop next time you are in Huddersfield. Alternatively, you can purchase from his online shop, which we may well be doing ourselves!
Lovely people like the guy who runs this place deserve success.
After a great visit to the Arcade, we went on to our next destination, Arcade Beers.
Not surprisingly, this little bar backs onto Byram’s Arcade and was mostly hidden from view by scaffolding.
This is definitely not the place for you if you drink Carling or Fosters.
This is a place for a beer connoisseur, like Mrs Hopper!
After much consideration and a couple of samples, I went for the weak but incredibly tasty option, the Schofferhoffer grapefruit hefeweizen.
Mrs Hopper went for a Deya Queer Consequences IPA. I imagine with a name like that, I wouldn’t want the consequences revealed to me the next morning…
After taking our seats, we got involved in a conversation with the locals sitting at the bar.
Our experience of Huddersfield was very positive so far and this bar only accentuated that feeling.
The locals and the barman were all very friendly and happy to talk with us and ask about our groundhopping hobby.
We would like to say hello and thanks to the gentlemen in Arcade Beers for making our stay a short but pleasant one. I am very happy to recommend this place to anyone visiting the town.
After a very pleasant drink in Arcade Beers, we moved on to our next designated watering hole.
We walked along Station Street, turned right onto St. Peter’s Street and then left, along John William Street.
Along the way, we again passed St. George’s Square and I noticed some more fabulous architecture across the road. Known as the Lion Building, it has the same feel about it as the train station.
This shouldn’t be surprising when you find out it had the same architect.
The Lion building was also completed in the 1850s and contained a combination of shops, offices and storerooms.
Unfortunately, the original lion that stands proudly atop the building, started to crumble. It was eventually replaced in 1978 with a fibre-glass replica.
Our second watering hole was The Sportsman, located at the end of John William Street.
We entered around 13:15 and it was clearly the place to be.
Mrs Hopper ordered a chocolate orange stout (mine) and a Shameless IPA for herself. These came to £9.00, which is quite reasonable for craft beers.
There were no seats available and we stood drinking by the bar.
After visiting the little boy’s room, I discovered that there was a beer garden at the back. While it was still standing room only, there was at least some fresh air to be had. Standing in a crowded bar isn’t one of my favourite pastimes.
The beer was good and everyone seemed friendly enough. There were even a group of Plymouth fans drinking among the blue and white majority, with no problems.
Having said that, I kind of wish we had stayed at the Arcade Beers bar where we had a seat and good company.
Onwards To the Ground
By now, it was time to move on again and get ourselves to the game.
Down Fitzwilliam Street, onto Viaduct Street, past the Tesco petrol station and onto Castlegate to Lower Fitzwilliam Street.
This led to Gasworks Street and the looming 127-foot steel framework of an old gasholder.
It’s quite an iconic landmark in Huddersfield and it was sad to read that it is due to be dismantled in 2025.
I guess that’s progress.
Personally, I would restore it and leave it as a listed building and form a town heritage museum around it.
Imagine it lit up in neon in the dark!
If there were any doubts that we were nearly there, they were soon dispelled.
A large sign spanned the road, proclaiming ‘Nearly There’.
There was also a pin badge seller ‘Close By’ and I decided to give my business to him rather than the official club shop.
I purchased a nice blue club crest badge for just £2.00. A bargain!
Strangely, there was also a slightly out-of-tune bagpiper playing between the badge seller and the sign.
I’m not entirely sure what the connection between a bagpiper and Huddersfield Town is but I do love the sound of bagpipes, even when slightly out of tune.
Huddersfield Town – John Smith’s Stadium Exterior
Past the ‘Nearly There’ sign, you come to a car park and the rear of the Abzorb Stand at the southwest end of the stadium.
This is the stand that away fans are located in, though it is split between home and away fans.
There didn’t seem to be any kind of segregation outside and we wandered between Huddersfield and Plymouth Argyle fans.
We walked down some steps and around the rear of the main stand, to the west side.
The Plymouth Argyle team coach was parked outside and what a tremendous-looking vehicle it was. Resplendent in the dark green Argyle colours, blacked-out windows and the club crest adorning it.
We saw it again after exiting after the match and noticed it even had green lights underneath.
They ride in style and rightly so, considering how many miles they put in during a season.
We walked past the club shop because time was ticking on and there was quite a queue to get in.
There would be time to pop in after the game.
There is a small fan zone along this side of the ground.
Kids were taking part in a shootout in inflatable goalposts, the Terrier mascot was having photographs with kids and there was beer for the older kids…
A couple of people were randomly dressed as Transformers, too. Again, not sure of the connection to the club but the kids were enjoying it and maybe that’s all the connection that is needed.
We carried on around past the gym that is built into the back of the Fantastic Media Stand and around to the Chadwick Lawrence Stand, where we would be watching the match from.
Huddersfield Town – John Smith’s Stadium Exterior Gallery
The turnstiles for the Chadwick Lawrence Stand are a separate block located away from the stand itself.
EDIT: I’ve been informed that these turnstiles actually followed the club from their old home at Leeds Road. I love things like that as it combines the old with the new.
Our tickets had been purchased online via the Huddersfield Town ticketing website.
They cost £25.00 each plus a £2.50 booking fee.
Our print-at-home tickets were scanned by humans and we entered the stadium proper.
Huddersfield Town – John Smith’s Stadium Interior
The Abzorb Stand
As mentioned, this stand is split between home and away supporters.
The section nearest to the main stand is reserved for away support, while nearer to our stand, were Huddersfield fans.
A big shout out to the 1,396 Argyle fans who had made the six-hundred-mile plus round-trip journey to Huddersfield.
It was also nice to hear the Huddersfield stadium announcer acknowledge that fact, too.
However, not quite such a long day for a couple of Argyle fans I spoke to outside the Sportsman, who had travelled thirty minutes on the train from Manchester. It felt almost like they were cheating! 😂
A digital scoreboard hangs from the roof at this end of the stadium.
This stand accommodates 4,054 spectators.
The Core Stand
This is the main stand at the John Smith’s Stadium.
As with the rest of the stadium, it is aesthetically pleasing and ‘different’ to most modern stadiums.
A huge arched roof looms over the double-tiered rows of seats below.
Executive boxes/hospitality lounges are sandwiched between the two tiers and electronic adverts are displayed above these lounges.
The players’ tunnel and technical dugouts are located in the middle of the stand at the pitchside.
This stand accommodates 10,365 spectators.
Fantastic Media Stand
To our right, was the double-tiered Fantastic Media Stand.
There are a further sixteen executive lounges/hospitality suites and digital advertising between the two tiers.
This end is the same in height as the main Core Stand.
A small room is mounted on the floodlight pillars between the main stand and this one. Presumably, this is either a police control room or some kind of media suite.
Drop a comment if you know which.
EDIT: This has been confirmed as the police control room.
This stand accommodates 2,750 spectators.
Chadwick Lawrence Stand
As ever, getting a photograph of the stand we were in was next to impossible. Even from the bottom of the stand, I couldn’t get a decent picture.
You will have to imagine it, I’m afraid.
It is a copy of the Abzorb stand to our left but obviously on a bigger scale, as it covers the length of the pitch.
A single-tier structure that isn’t as tall as the other two stands.
This stand accommodates 7,000 spectators.
Huddersfield Town – John Smith’s Stadium Interior Gallery
Huddersfield Town Tidbits
The Huddersfield Town Association Football Club was formed in 1908.
The club nickname of ‘The Terriers’ was taken in 1969. Prior to this, the club had simply been known as ‘Town’.
This newer nickname comes from a marketing ploy by then Club Promotion Officer, Bill Brook. Yorkshire Terrier dogs fit his criteria for a new club nickname as they were small but aggressive dogs and it fit his underdog image. Apparently, the first Yorkshire Terrier was bred in the town and was named Huddersfield Ben.
In 2017, Town began their first of only two seasons in the Premier League.
Huddersfield thus became the first club to have played in each of the four top English Football Leagues on two different grounds.
As well as former Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, other well-known fans of the club include actor Sir Patrick Stewart, who became president of the Huddersfield Town Academy in 2010.
The unsponsored name of Town’s home ground is the Kirklees Stadium.
The Terriers have played at the John Smith’s Stadium since 1994. Before this, home games were played at their Leeds Road ground.
The stadium is shared with Rugby League club, the Huddersfield Giants.
Huddersfield Town owns just 40% of the stadium, with the council owning 40% and the Giants the remaining 20%.
Rugby League World Cup matches were held at the stadium in 1995, 2000 and 2013. It has also hosted concerts by the likes of Bryan Adams, The Eagles and Bon Jovi.
On 29 March 2023, Town were taken over by American philanthropist, Kevin Nagle.
Town appointed Darren Moore as their new manager, replacing Neil Warnock in September of 2023.
Kevin Nagle – The New Man in Town
Huddersfield Town – Pre-Game View of the John Smith’s Stadium
Huddersfield Town v Plymouth Argyle – The Game
Coming into today’s game, the scene was set for a dogfight, with both teams searching desperately for points to pull away from the relegation zone.
Town sat in 21st position, with Argyle just two places above them.
Last time out, the Terriers were soundly beaten 5-0 in the FA Cup at big-spending Manchester City.
Visitors, Plymouth Argyle, meanwhile, progressed to the FA Cup Fourth Round by defeating League Two’s Sutton United.
My pre-match prediction was for a 2-2 draw.
Both sides were understandably nervous and possession was given away cheaply at times.
This almost cost Town a goal early on, as a misplaced pass found its way to Morgan Whittaker. His long-range shot was palmed away by Lee Nicholls in the Town goal.
The next big chance came to the Terriers, as Josh Koroma danced around the far side of the box. His tippy-toe action eventually saw him get a shot away and he was unlucky to see it hit the side netting.
A few people around us thought it was in, myself included.
It was Argyle who drew first blood in the twelfth minute. Bali Mumba put in a low ball across the face of goal from the left and it was Whittaker who raced in to get one of the easier goals he will score this season.
The Argyle section of support rose to celebrate and it was they who were making most of the noise throughout this game.
Alex Matos again hit the side netting from close range for Town when he maybe should have done better.
Plymouth had a period of control after this point and some more of the action is in the video below.
Town were level before the break thanks to Koroma.
A fifty-fifty challenge led to the ball breaking for Huddersfield’s Sorba Thomas. He laid it off to Koroma, who ghosted into the box before firing a low, curling effort into the far corner.
It seemed fitting to head into the break all-square, with neither team dominating.
Half Time – Huddersfield Town 1 v Plymouth Argyle 1
It’s always pleasant to check my phone at halftime and see that Stoke are winning.
I ask Plymouth fan’s forgiveness that I’m happy with the appointment of their former manager, Steven Schumacher. Since he took over, we are now quietly on a seven-game unbeaten streak.
I truly hope that Argyle’s new manager, Ian Foster, can do something similar for them and steer them to another season in the Championship.
The goal that Lewis Baker scored on the stroke of halftime was a stunning freekick worthy of winning any game and so it proved to be at Rotherham today.
I settled in for the second half of this match with my fingers crossed that we would hold on for the three points in South Yorkshire.
Plymouth had the first big chance of the second half, with goalscorer Whittaker shooting narrowly over the bar from distance.
The second half was largely dominated by Huddersfield however, bar for a few nervy moments towards the end of the game. I don’t think there could have been many arguments if they had gone on to snatch a winner.
My Man of the Match award goes to Argyle’s Morgan Whittaker who looked dangerous whenever he was given a sniff of goal.
Full-Time – Huddersfield Town 1 v Plymouth Argyle 1
Attendance – 20,253
Entrance Fee – £25.00
Programme – £3.50
You can read a more detailed Match Report here via the Huddersfield Town website.
Huddersfield Town v Plymouth Argyle – Match Highlights
Huddersfield Town – Post-Game View of the John Smith’s Stadium
Next up for the Terriers, is a trip to Ewood Park to face Blackburn Rovers on January 20th.
Plymouth Argyle will face a home game against Cardiff City on January 20th before returning to West Yorkshire for a big FA Cup 4th Round match against Leeds United.
Both sides will be desperate to keep gaining points wherever they can and try to see out the campaign as Championship sides again for the following season.
Huddersfield Town – Thoughts
The first thought for me has to be the superb stadium itself.
It’s so refreshing to go to a modern-built stadium that has a ‘different feel to it. As a Stoke fan, I’m only too aware that some of the stadiums built in the nineties were cut-and-paste copies of each other.
The likes of the Riverside Stadium, the Bet 365 Stadium and Pride Park feel all too similar despite their little differences.
In contrast, the John Smith’s Stadium is unique and I hope other clubs who intend to switch to new stadiums in the future do something unique, too.
From our position, by zooming in, I got a great view of this unique architecture.
The floodlights and stand roofs converge in the corners and look quite spectacular.
The only downside is that the open-air corners let the wind in.
Stoke’s stadium up on the hill may be synonymous with cold midweek nights and wind sweeping through open corners but I bet this place has its moments, too.
It was good to see kids being involved around the fan zone. Things like this can make fans for life. It’s called investing in the future and many clubs can learn from Huddersfield and others who do this.
Twenty is Plenty
The John Smith’s Stadium is one of the cheapest places to watch Championship football this season. Only QPR offer cheaper season tickets. A full season of League football at Huddersfield Town costs just £249 (QPR £242.)
That breaks down to just £10.83 per game, well below the ‘Twenty is Plenty‘ campaign.
It would be nice if a club such as Huddersfield took this campaign to the business and actually reduced match-day prices to £20, too. They could be the catalyst to fans getting what they crave… affordable football.
According to Edward Lorenz’s ‘Butterfly Effect Theory‘, “A butterfly flapping its wings, could create a tornado.”
It would be nice if the club could contribute, or even pay for, some lighting along the river path back into town.
Huddersfield Town – After the Game
We stayed behind to let the crowds disperse, in the knowledge that we had plenty of time before our train was due.
I took this time to get some extra photos and video of the stadium, deliberately turning a deaf ear to a steward who was gently reminding me that the stand was being closed.
After leaving the stand, to the relief of the steward, we made our way back around to the club shop.
The merchandise was much the same as you find in most club shops. For the record, the pin badges were £3.00 and not much different to the one I had bought outside the stadium.
We passed the Plymouth Argyle coach once more and it now had the green lights glowing underneath it.
The Path Less Trodden
We then, inadvertently, took the scenic route, or, as Mrs Hopper put it, “It’s like being back at Morpeth”. (Hopper Tales #47)
The path alongside the Colne River led in the right direction but with all the rain we have had in the UK lately, it was wet, muddy and poorly lit.
I used my mobile phone light to help us along and we thankfully got to the end of the path without any embarrassing slipping incidents.
We came across the newly painted Jonathan Hogg mural as we made our way back into the town.
Simple things like this do so much to brighten a place up and are a great way to honour the club captain’s ten years with Town.
There aren’t many loyal servants like that in football anymore and it’s nice to see the club give him a semi-permanent tribute like this.
We arrived back at Harold Wilson’s statue and made our way inside the station to await our train at 18:17.
It arrived a couple of minutes late and we boarded, glad to be out of the chilly air.
Another drama-free journey landed us back in Durham by 20:00. This left us with a forty-five-minute wait for the bus home.
Luckily, we had a £10.4 million waiting room!
Our bus arrived at the appointed time and we were home thirty minutes later.
Another successful hop in the books.
Next Up for Hoppers Guide
Next up for us, is a trip back down to the Midlands to spend some time with my family.
While we are there, we plan to visit Belper Town for their game against Brighouse Town.
Ironically, Brighouse is a small town in West Yorkshire, situated just four miles north of the John Smith’s Stadium.
Maybe a few Terriers fans will be down for the game?
I will be looking forward to visiting Christchurch Meadows and meeting up with one of our social media followers, Mike Ward. Mike has been with us nearly from the start of our Hopping journey and it will be nice to put a face to the name.
Onto the next!
EDIT: The weather got the better of us, so we went to nearby Ilkeston Town for their derby game against Basford United.