Former Huddersfield Town midfielder Brian Stanton holds claim to a curious footballing record.
A Fourth Division title winner in 1979-80, Brian achieved two promotions with Town playing 241 matches for the club between 1979 and 1986 and scoring 54 goals.
Three of those goals are part of an unofficial record. Although not confirmed, he is widely believed to hold the record for the fastest hat-trick of six minutes for a player that isn’t a striker [three of four goals] in the game against local rivals Bradford City in a 6–3 win on January 1 1983.
When asked about this curious fact, Brian said: “As far as I know it’s correct. It’s an interesting fact that is associated with my name. Interestingly enough Ian Robins, who I played with and scored a lot more goals than me, didn’t score a career hat-trick or so I’m led to believe.”
Born in Liverpool on February 7 1956, Brian grew up watching the start of a football dynasty in his home city with former boss Bill Shankly swapping the rolling hills of Huddersfield for the newly-formed Mersey beat.
Growing up Brian always appreciated where he’d come from and said: “I was born in the centre of Liverpool and all my family were Liverpool supporters. Up until about four we lived in the slums but they were getting demolished so we moved to the outskirts of Liverpool and lived in a place called Kirby.
“I used to go to Anfield with my pals and watch the team. We’d have a great day out.
“At school you’d speak to career advisors and pick jobs to go into. I was keen to be a joiner and work with wood, however there weren’t a lot of jobs around at that time. So I ended up doing engineering before going into football.”
Brian signed for Bury in 1976 at the age of 20 and played over 80 times for the now disbanded club.
He moved to Huddersfield in 1979 and can remember his thought process of why he should move and who persuaded him to come to the Terriers at that time.
“One of the reasons I moved from Bury to Huddersfield is because I knew both Malcolm Brown and Ian Robins. Having played with them before they told me all about Town. Bury were in the Third Division at the time, and Huddersfield in Division 4.
“I thought: ‘why do I want to drop down a league?’ but after talking to those lads they persuaded me. They told me how Mick Buxton came in and just changed the atmosphere of the club and luckily he was interested in me and so I moved.”
Like many of his old teammates Brian couldn’t understand how a great historic club like Huddersfield had ended up in such a mess.
Brian added: “It was crazy that Town were in the Fourth Division. However, with the group we had, there was no way that would continue.
“The players on and off the field all got on, the coaches made you work hard but also made training enjoyable. You felt like you wanted to give more. The people there created a bond and a connection with the whole town, never mind just the club.”
Brian was part of one of the club’s most memorable periods, clinching the Fourth Division title in 1980 and then promotion to the Second Division in 1983, Brian was loving life in West Yorkshire.
“The promotion seasons were just brilliant,” he said. “I am still very proud of what we achieved. I am sad that the club hasn’t won another league title since we did, but it makes you proud to be part of the club’s history that we achieved something not many others have.
“We played some good football too in that period, the fans loved our brand of football.
“The fans played a huge part in our success. They backed us and helped us through difficult moments. They really gave us an extra 10% with how they supported us.
“The 1982-83 season was again a real pleasure to play in but even more of a battle. There were some great teams in that league back then, especially Newport and Portsmouth.”
Brian’s time at Town came to an end in 1986. He sustained what was first believed to be a groin problem however it was later diagnosed as a hernia. By the time Brian had fully recovered, he had slipped down the first team pecking order.
On how he departed Town, Brian said: “I got injured with just a few games left of a season. It was a groin injury. I was told to rest it over the summer and to come back to pre-season fully fit. I felt fine when I came back but then broke down with severe pain. I was told to rest it again.
“The coaching team got me to see the physio for the British Rugby League team. I went to go see him and after 10 minutes he said he thought I had a hernia. So I went back and trained but was still in pain.
“The club medical staff thought it wasn’t a hernia but a displacement of my pelvis. They wanted to take a piece of bone off my hip and put it across my pelvis. To me that didn’t sound right and I didn’t entertain that idea.
“I just carried on training and played a few games and pulled up again. This had now gone on for a full 12 months without anything happening.
“The club found a player who had a similar injury to me and he’d gone to see a specialist in London. So I did the same, and within 30 seconds he said I had a hernia. He booked me in for an operation, it was a deep hernia and this doctor was renowned for removing them. After about a month I was back training and playing again.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t the player I was, 18 months had gone by and I was pretty ticked off with the whole thing. I think mentally it affected me and through my own fault I never prepared mentally for this to happen.
“I couldn’t properly get back in the side. I went out on loan to Wrexham for like eight games. Once I came back to Huddersfield I still couldn’t get into the side and I was released.”
Since retiring from football in 1988, Brian has worked for various councils in Lancashire. The 65-year-old is now fully retired and lives in Bury with his wife Angela.
Brian ran 10 kilometres in the Manchester Run back in 2015 where he raised money for KidneysForLife. This came after Angela, Brian’s wife of 35 years, was diagnosed with a blood disorder that affected her kidneys.
After both of Angela’s kidneys failed, Brian gave her one of his after finding out they were a match. Brian and Angela now just have one kidney each. Angela had the operation in 2014 which was a success.
Brian explained how things can still be difficult now and said: “Angela has an underlying blood disorder which attacks the kidney. So it wasn’t the kidney that was the problem but the blood disorder. At some point she will need another transplant, hopefully that’s far in the future.
“We have to be super careful especially now with Covid-19. So whilst we still go out and about, if we want to go out for a meal we just need to go when it’s quieter.”