The year is 1970, the Swinging Sixties had swung and flower power had wilted. It was the start of a new decade and there was also a new chapter in the history of Huddersfield Town – and full-back Geoff Hutt was at the centre of it.
By the end of 1970 Paul McCartney had filed a lawsuit to dissolve The Beatles. However, there was much more drama before that.
Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, joined the Royal Navy; 100,000 people in Washington DC demonstrated against the Vietnam War; Brazil became the first team to win the World Cup three times; and Elton John performed in the US for the first time.
Meanwhile, back in England, two major events happened in that year and they both involved Huddersfield. One was Huddersfield-born Prime Minister Harold Wilson lost the General Election to the Conservatives led by Ted Heath.
The second was the Terriers’ promotion to the First Division for the first time in 15 years. Town clinched promotion in the driving rain at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough.
Geoff Hutt remembers that game well and said: “We drew 1-1 with Middlesbrough and won the title the next game by beating Blackburn 2-0.
“The Middlesbrough night was amazing. I think if you asked some of the lads they wouldn’t remember too much about it. We came back to Huddersfield and went to Johnny’s nightclub, where the drink flowed!”
Hutt joined the Terriers in 1966, signing a professional contract two years later. He recalled: “I just turned up to Leeds Road with my boots and asked them to give me a trial.
“Tom Johnston was the manager then in 1966. I didn’t sign proper terms, though, until 1968 when Ian Greaves took over.”
Hutt, a full-back by trade, had played up front in his junior days. The then 18-year-old did enjoy the odd drive forward and shot at goal, something that any modern day full-back is told to do on a regular basis. However, Greaves had other ideas of how a 1970 full-back should play.
Hutt said: “Ian used to say to me: ‘Look, Geoff, we don’t want you up there. If you take a shot you are more likely to hit the pie man in the stands than the goal. No, no – you stay back and defend.’ I don’t think I listened very well because I did score the odd great goal! None of them were tap-ins, put it that way.”
One of Hutt’s favourite memories is an FA Cup tie against West Ham in 1969. A young enthusiastic Hutt was raring to go and face the likes of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Harry Redknapp.
“I was so excited to play,” he recalled. “It was the 4th round and we were playing against some big well-known names, World Cup winners.
“I felt determined and wanted to show some soft Southerners what coming onto our patch felt like. So I may have tackled Harry Redknapp onto the gravel at the side of the pitch!
“It’s safe to say I don’t think he liked it. Whilst we lost the game it was a great experience to play against those players.”
Hutt ended his Town career in 1976, but by that time the club had gone from playing in the First Division to the fourth for the first time in the club’s history.
The Simon and Garfunkel song Bridge over Troubled Water was No1 in 1970 and if you’d have said Town would be sat at the foot of the fourth division in 1975 no one would have believed you. There was a deluge of troubled water passing under Huddersfield’s bridge, for sure.
Hutt eventually retired in 1980, playing his last game for Halifax Town. He played over 270 matches for Huddersfield and looks back on his time at the Terriers with fondness.
“I love the club,” he said. “I had some unbelievable memories there as a player. Obviously being relegated hurt, and whilst the players who came in tried, I just don’t think a lot were good enough. The club was in a bad place. Sadly, as we have seen with the club today, it never learns.”
The 71-year-old still goes to watch his beloved Terriers at the John Smith’s Stadium, but insists he isn’t surprised at the current struggles and can make comparisons to the 1970s team.
He said: “When we got back to the First Division (now the Premier League for anyone born post-1992!) it brought all those memories flooding back.
“Unfortunately it was deja vu as we spent two years there and got relegated. The second season was exactly the same as ours back in the 1970s, couldn’t score enough goals, conceded too many and lost more games than the previous season.
“What I would say this time is that, although the managers have made mistakes, who the heck has been bringing in these players, some on big money? Some of them like Adama Diakhaby and Isaac Mbenza aren’t good enough to play for a Northern Conference side never mind Huddersfield Town in the Championship.
“I think big changes are needed behind the scenes before the inevitable collapse happens. Unfortunately it’s in our club’s history to make errors that then cost us relegation or worse.”
Hutt also hasn’t been impressed by the club’s recent transfer policy of bringing back former players.
“Signing the likes of Duane Holmes and Danny Ward isn’t any good,” he said. “Returning to a previous club never works and it’s not for me signing former players. Jordan Rhodes left as a hero, 40 goals in League 1, outstanding. He has come back a different player now.”
Hutt may have some uncompromising views on the current Town set-up – as crunching as that tackle on Redknapp – but he’s glad to be back in the stands watching Town once more after 18 months away due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Although you got used to your Saturdays being different it is good to be back,” said Hutt. “Supporters being in the ground makes a huge difference, it makes the place have a buzz and feel alive. The players feed off that energy.
“Despite my moans and groans of what’s happening at the club, the team has started well this year. Now the task is to keep it up.”