Former Huddersfield Town defender Tom Cowan has no doubts at all that his former manager and current Town boss Neil Warnock will get the Terriers out of trouble and help them survive in the Sky Bet Championship.

Cowan, a left-back in Warnock’s first spell at Town in 1994-95, points to Warnock’s man management skills and says he will get the best out of whichever players he has available. 

The 53-year-old Scot spoke to Huddersfield Hub about his time under Warnock, his five years at the Terriers and his second career as a firefighter.

Town remain in the drop zone and visit league leaders Burnley on Saturday (February 25), another of Cowan’s former clubs, in a game Warnock describes as a “free hit.”

On why he thinks Warnock is the right man for the job, Cowan said: “Neil is a great manager and the best we could have got in our current situation. I don’t think there is anyone better.

“The thing about Neil is that he knows what to do and say. He knows how to motivate people in training and on match days and bring people together to fight for one cause. 

“When he first came to Town from Notts County I didn’t know a lot about him. However you soon got used to what he expected and wanted. You knew where you stood with him.

“I’ve seen players disagree with him in the changing rooms and there has been some arguments but he didn’t mind you giving your opinion. He likes leaders on the pitch and back in that promotion season of 1995 that is what we had, lots of leaders.”

Neil Warnock and his promotion winners including Tom Cowan (second right – front row) at a reunion

Cowan joined the Terriers at the back end of the 1993-94 season and quickly became a fans’ favourite. He went on to play 155 games for Town over five years.

He played in the Autoglass Trophy final at the end of that campaign at Wembley Stadium. The Terriers drew 1-1 with Swansea City after 120 minutes and the game went to a penalty shoot-out with Cowan missing the decisive kick, meaning the Welsh club took home the silverware. 

Cowan played an integral part the following season to help get the club promoted out of Division 2 and into Division 1 – what is now the Championship. 

On that time at the club and why he signed for the Terriers, Cowan said: “I was on loan at Stoke and they wanted to sign me, as did Bradford, but then Neil rang and it was because of him I ended up coming to Huddersfield.

“It was a club going places at the time. Neil offered the club hope at that time, as he does now. I think that’s the magic with him, he provides hope even in bad times.

“The promotion season was special, all the lads got on. It was a great dressing room and something I’ll never forget. The trips to Wembley were amazing, the stands were filled with blue and white.”

On the penalty against Swansea he added: “I was so confident of taking one, I used to take them all the time in training. It was a terrible penalty and after that I never took one again!

“Neil asked at Brentford in the play-off semi-final the year after whether I fancied taking one, and I said no. If it came down to the keepers I said they can take one before me.”

On Warnock as a character Cowan added: “Neil is a great person, very honest and straight. He had this superstitious side too. We used to drink eggs and sherry before games because we kept winning and so until we lost we had to drink it.

“I remember there were people throwing up everywhere, poor Chris Billy hated it. Once we lost a game we stopped doing it but it went on for about 15 matches.”

Cowan stayed at Town when Warnock left. The Scot would eventually leave Town in 1999. After sustaining a long-term injury he was shipped out on loan before moving on.

“I didn’t want to leave,” he said. “It all ended on a sour note really, as I got injured and then couldn’t get properly back into the side. I would have stayed at Town for the rest of my career but it wasn’t to be and that’s football.” 

Cowan went on to become a firefighter and has worked in the fire service for the last 15 years. Unlike the multi-millionaire footballers of today, the Town players of yesteryear had to go out and find work after their careers had ended.

“Being a firefighter is the second best job after being a footballer,” said Cowan. “I love my job. I never thought I’d go into this service but it’s the best decision I ever made. It’s hard to become a firefighter, there’s lots of things you need to pass to become one, luckily I passed the tests and now I’m doing a job I thoroughly enjoy.”

Cowan still looks out for his old club’s results and believes Town have a good chance of staying up with Warnock at the helm. 

“With my job I don’t get to many matches but when I have been invited back to games it’s been great to see the fans and it’s lovely to hear they still appreciate what I did with that team,” said Cowan.

“While it’s not been a good season so far, Neil is the best person to secure safety. If anyone can keep Town up it’s Neil.”