Sports Presenter Owen Shipton’s blog: What’s in a football club’s nickname?

In the first of a series on the origins of the names of football clubs from around the UK, Notts TV Sport Presenter Owen Shipton looks at the history behind the one given to Nottingham Forest’s vanquished visitors from the weekend – Huddersfield Town.

The Terriers isn’t a nickname to strike fear into opposition. In fact, naming a team of burly, bruising football league veterans after a lap dog seems likely to do the opposite.

Some Huddersfield Town supporters still prefer “The Town”. Online forums light up with tetchy Town fans frustrated at their tiny dog title.

But a fan vote’s said to be the reason why the club added the dog to its badge before the 1969-70 season. It’s still there now.

Huddersfield Town’s crest.

It was partly an exercise in marketing too, guided by the club’s first promotion officer,Bill Brook.

Inspired by the tenacity of Ian Greaves’ youthful, promotion-winning side, local Yorkshire Terrier Skippy trotted out as the club’s match day mascot.

Current gaffer, David Wagner’s based his dogged, high-pressing tactics on the “Terrier identity” too.

But West Yorkshire’s connection to that yappiest of breeds is genuine. The original Yorkshire Terrier was bred in Huddersfield and named “Huddersfield Ben”.

Huddersfield Ben.

The ancestor of all Yorkies was small but quick and with a hunter’s instinct, a canine false nine. Run down by a carriage, his lineage is still going strong.

The industrial revolution had dragged Scots – and their terriers – south. By 1911, Huddersfield’s textile industry employed 22,000 people. That’s a third of all men and two thirds of all women in the town.

Terriers hunted down rats in the mills and as a bloodthirsty gambling game for workers. Taverns would drop a terrier in a pit full of rats to see how many it could kill in a given time.

Huddersfield Cloth Mill in 1943.

From stud to studs, you can still see a terrier on Huddersfield Town kits today and the club now has two terrier mascots. Tilly the Terrier joined Terry at the start of the 2016-17 season, her name chosen by fans in a vote.

Hopefully, that vote on the terrier moniker will be less controversial than the last.

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