Huddersfield Town legend Keith Hanvey was always a sporty child and his love for football always shone through.
Hanvey played for the Terriers between 1978 and 1984 and won two promotions with the club. This included winning the Fourth Division title in 1980, the last league title the club has collected.
Hanvey was born in 1952 and grew up in Manchester and used to enjoy playing football in the winter and cricket in the summer. He and his dad supported Manchester United, whilst his mum and brother supported the blue half of Manchester in City.
In 1971 Hanvey signed professional forms with Manchester City and his career started from there.
He said of that time: “I made sure I got my A Levels at school and was playing for the school team and City’s A and B team at the same time.
“One day Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison, who were the manager and coach then, walked up to me and asked me to sign professional forms. All my family were so pleased when I signed.
“I progressed quite quickly in the first three months playing in the club’s reserve side. We then travelled to Scotland where I played in the Texaco Cup for the first team where I made my debut. In the papers the next day there was a picture of me and the headline read `wizzkid makes debut.'”
Hanvey then suffered an horrendous injury which became the defining moment of his career.
Now 61, Hanvey recalled: “I played in a reserve game up at Newcastle and I broke my thigh. Looking back that was the big moment in my career. I was out for the remainder of my two-year contract at City. A guy put his knee onto my thigh in a tackle which ruined a lot of the nerves in that area and broke the bone.”
Hanvey recovered and went on to play for Swansea. However, he missed home – and with his father having been diagnosed with cancer – he soon wanted to move back closer to Manchester. In 1973 he signed for Rochdale.
Having made over 100 appearances for the club he then moved to Grimsby in 1977 where he played against his future employers, Huddersfield Town, in a vital match in the Fourth Division in Easter 1978.
Hanvey recalls the day and said: “I scored the only goal and we won 1-0. Both sides were vying for promotion at the time.”
Hanvey switched to Town that same year and it was manager Tom Johnstone who signed him. Johnstone saw Hanvey’s ability on the ball and fitness as a key attribute to play on the left wing. Hanvey, however, was more used to playing centre-back.
Hanvey’s opinions of Huddersfield when he first joined were not favourable. He said: “When I first joined the club I thought: ‘What the hell have I signed here for?’ It was in a really bad place.
“I came from Grimsby, who I knew would do well, to a team I thought might do well if it can be turned around. I thought I’d joined a holiday camp. Tom Johnstone left a few weeks after I signed.”
Johnstone was replaced by Mick Buxton and things changed forever.
Hanvey added: “Mick changed things quickly and brought some great players in. The attitude changed around the place, the players were fit, they were proud to play for the club we really felt we could go places.”
Town were promoted in 1979-80 and won the Fourth Division title too. Hanvey was made club captain at this point and he said that he and Buxton had a love-hate relationship.
“Me and Mick didn’t always see eye to eye. I was club captain and I had to go to him if something wasn’t right and so we didn’t always agree. It was a love-hate relationship. However I think there was huge respect between us.”
Town then spent three years in the Third Division before finally clinching promotion in 1982-83 to the Second Division.
On that promotion Hanvey said: “The spirit had held from the Fourth Division. In fact we should have got promotion the year before but a number of results let us down. We knew we were gunning for promotion in 1982 and we achieved it.”
Hanvey would receive a blow in the 1983-84 Second Division season, however, where he picked up another injury. This kept him out of action for six weeks.
“Getting that injury was very disappointing,” he said. “I was pondering my next move anyway which would have been a part-time contract at Town. I was learning financial management off the pitch at the University of Huddersfield. I had a few conversations with Mick but he wouldn’t go for it.”
Hanvey played out the rest of the season at Town before eventually retiring at Rochdale a season later.
Hanvey will always be a legend at the club on and off the field and will be remembered for his role in the building of the John Smith’s Stadium. Read that story HERE.