Huddersfield Giants interim chairman Keith Hellawell says the Huddersfield YMCA complex bought by Ken Davy can be a huge boost to the community.
As reported by Huddersfield Hub on Thursday, Mr Davy has bought the Salendine Nook site to develop it into a world class sporting and community facility.
The Giants are now fully concentrating on the YMCA complex. Mr Davy owns Woodfield Park at Lockwood, a training base for the Giants, and whilst money has been spent there, the focus is now on YMCA. Read our original story here.
Mr Hellawell, speaking at a virtual meeting of Huddersfield Giants Supporters’ Association, said: “We had great plans for the Woodfield Park site and have put a good deal of money into it. However looking at the YMCA site we just feel there is a better opportunity there. YMCA is a more established site with better access and with facilities already there.
“The Giants won’t own the land, we will just be using it. It will be owned through a trust charity arm. We are only one day into this and we just wanted to get the ink dry and make sure everyone is happy.
“Woodfield Park is no longer our focus with the YMCA land now getting that. What happens to the Woodfield Park site is up to Ken.
“I couldn’t give you a rundown of what we’ll do month by month because we are only at the start. We also need to be respectful as it’s a home to some people and there are a lot of people involved so we need to be sensitive.”
Mr Hellawell, 78, became interim chairman of the Giants as club owner Mr Davy took over as chairman of Super League in an interim capacity himself after the departure of Robert Elstone.
Mr Hellawell believes Mr Davy has a tough task on his hands at Super League and said: “Ken has gone in there to sort it out. It’s a tough job but he believes he can do it. We know there are big things to sort out but if he didn’t think he could do it he wouldn’t have taken it up.”
Mr Hellawell insists he is just there to steady the ship until Mr Davy returns. On his new position, he said: “I have a general role really. I attend meetings for Ken when he can’t make it. I also help out on the retail side due to my background. So I just try to help when and where I can. Ken would get us involved in different things depending on what experience you have.
“I will be steadying the ship, if something major came up that would involve the club I would involve Ken. Ken is the head of the club, his heart is in the Giants and that will always be the case.”
Holmfirth-born Mr Hellawell is a former top policeman. He joined Huddersfield Borough Police in 1962 and rose through the ranks and was appointed Chief Constable of West Yorkshire in 1993. After 36 years in the force he retired and took up opportunities in business. He was chairman of Sports Direct from 2009-2018.
Mr Hellawell joined the Giants board in 2002 attending his first game as a board member when the Giants beat Leigh 38-16 at Widnes in the match to decide promotion to Super League.
He said: “My first game was against Leigh in the 2002 Northern Ford Premiership final. We were promoted to Super League that day.”
When asked for his favourite moment as a Giants supporter, Mr Hellawell reflected on some painful childhood memories explaining how he’d come from a poor background. His family couldn’t afford tickets to go to games and so as a child the young Keith used to climb over the fence to watch them play.
He said: “I couldn’t tell you the players’ names. We didn’t buy newspapers, we didn’t have a TV or a radio. We couldn’t afford those. I used to climb over the fence and watch the team play. I used to like watching cricket too.
“We didn’t have any money as a family. My life was so difficult back then. We were extremely poor and that time of my life between the ages of four and 12 was not a particularly happy time. I was born in Huddersfield and I’ll die in Huddersfield.”
Mr Hellawell has overcome adversity in his life and that steel is something he sees in new Giants head coach Ian Watson. The Giants have lost both games so far but Mr Hellawell sees Watson as the right man for the job.
“At every board meeting the coach (Watson) gives us his report,” said Mr Hellawell. “At our club we give huge confidence in the coach. We have asked him what his thoughts are on our start to the season. Naturally he is disappointed we haven’t won our first two games. They are fixtures he firmly believed we could have won if the players had played the way he wanted them to.
“Something interesting he said in one of our meetings was the fact he got the sense that the Australian players were the stars of the show. He thinks the English players have in the past been made as makeweights. He wants to turn that around, he thinks we have the talent in the English lads to do well.
“That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want the Australian players. However in his view they need to be part of the Huddersfield team and not play as individuals, not be stars.
“Also the English lads need to build confidence and become the spine of the team. Any Australian star that comes in should add to that and enhance it.
“Ian is confident he can be successful at the club. He believes he has a better team and set up here than at different places in the past.
“Sometimes I think we have been too supportive of a head coach and not jumped in quick enough. We aren’t the sort of board who put pressures on the head coach. What I would say is that of all the coaches we’ve had since I joined the board Ian has impressed me the most with how he thinks about the game.”
Huddersfield Hub would like to thank HGSA for allowing us to attend the meeting.
HGSA does fantastic work and raises important funds for the Giants including supporting the club academy. HGSA runs various events throughout the year and if you’d like to find out more about them click HERE.
If you would like to become a member for just £5 a year, click HERE.