Last weekend former Huddersfield Town striker Jon Stead announced he was retiring from the game. 

He hangs up his boots having played exactly 700 games across 12 clubs. As well as playing for Town he’s worn the shirts of Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland, Sheffield United, Bradford City and Harrogate Town to name just a few. 

Looking back over his career Jon said: “I’ve played for a lot of clubs and had a long career. I’ve enjoyed every minute of the sport I love playing.” 

Having grown up in Honley, Jon, 38, now lives in Shepley with wife Liz, 37, and daughters Isabelle, 10, and Sophia, aged seven.  

Jon always dreamed of playing for his hometown club and said: “I started a bit late playing for Hepworth United at the age of 10. You see kids now playing football at the age of five or six. I then joined the Huddersfield academy and just worked my way up to making my debut for the first team.  

“Growing up all I wanted to do was play for Town and so did my mates. We used to play outside the classroom kicking a tennis ball around the court. My step dad John Lee was a big influence on me and used to take me to play games.  

“I managed to go that step further and make the dream a reality. I ended up playing alongside my hero growing up – Andy Booth. That was an amazing experience.” 

Jon made his debut on the opening day of the 2002/03 season for the Terriers against Brentford. He went on to play 42 times that season scoring six goals.

The following season was more successful with Jon moving to Blackburn in January 2004 for a club record fee of just over £1m. He scored 18 goals for Town in the 2003/04 season, 16 coming in the league. That helped the Terriers eventually get promoted from the fourth tier of English football to the third. 

Jon Stead sat in the stands at the John Smith’s Stadium

Although Jon had moved to Blackburn that January, Town boss Peter Jackson invited the former Terrier to be part of the team on the day Huddersfield won promotion against Mansfield Town at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. 

On that debut season, and subsequent play-off final guest appearance, Jon said: “I scored six goals in my first season but it was difficult for everyone at the club.

“We had just been relegated and we were going through administration. So that second season with Peter Jackson was magical, I just hit the ground running really. I banged in 16 goals in the league before I moved on to Blackburn in January. 

“Jacko wanted me to come to the final at the Millennium Stadium. Jacko even wanted me to sit on the bench for the game but I couldn’t do that with signing for Blackburn, I had to draw the line somewhere.

“However running on the pitch after Lee Fowler had scored his penalty was amazing. To celebrate with everyone like that who had put so much hard work in after all the struggles from administration was just perfect. 

Jon lifting the Division Two play-off trophy at the Millennium Stadium

“I would have been there regardless anyway as a supporter but it was great Jacko wanted me there with the lads. I’d played over half the games in the season and scored lots of goals. So to be back part of the squad for that special day was great.

“I think people remember that team because of all the local academy lads who came through. David Mirfin, Nathan Clarke, Jon Worthington, Andy Holdsworth. These lads gave everything for the shirt and I think the supporters recognised that and so that team is special to lots of people.

“‘Worthy’ is still at the club now teaching the younger lads and I think that’s great that he’s involved. You need people like him teaching these kids what it’s all about to play for this football club.” 

Jon went on to play for a number of clubs. However he did return to Huddersfield signing for Town in 2013. After being in Bristol for three years, Jon wanted to move back to Huddersfield to be closer to family and friends. 

On his return to the club he said: “We wanted to move back up north closer to family and friends in Huddersfield. So it was a case of finding a club close enough to where we were going to live and what commute it was going to be. 

“I nearly signed for Barnsley, before re-signing for Town. However they messed the deal about and so it never happened. I had been speaking to Dean Hoyle and pestering him to sign me back. It was perfect for me and I wanted to come back to my hometown club. 

“I’ll be honest and say it didn’t work out for me the second time around. I didn’t get on with Mark Robins and I think I was more a chairman’s signing than the manager’s and Mark made that quite clear.

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“I wanted to come back, play regularly and bang loads of goals in. However it was all stop start. I went on loan to Oldham and played four games there. I really didn’t enjoy being there to be honest. I then went on loan to Bradford and that loan move came for me at the right time.” 

Due to the fact Jon and Robins didn’t see eye to eye it meant Jon spent much of his return at Town actually on loan at other clubs. Robins departed the club one game into the 2014/15 season. His replacement was Chris Powell. Although Jon didn’t really play under Powell’s management, Jon got on a lot better with the former Charlton boss. 

He said: “I really liked Chris, he was honest with me and that’s all you can ask. Chris was a really nice person and talked to me. Chris said to me that there were other players ahead of me and that I wouldn’t feature much so if I could find somewhere else to play I could go. At least with Chris I knew where I stood so I could plan ahead.” 

Jon signed for Bradford City on loan for the rest of the 2014/15 campaign. During his time at the Bantams he played in their amazing FA Cup run. This run that took them all the way to the quarter-finals where they were eventually beaten by Reading. Along the way they knocked out Premier League sides Sunderland and Chelsea. 

On his time at Bradford he said: “That whole cup run at Bradford was incredible. I scored in every round right up until we got knocked out against Reading. That day against Chelsea was special and one I’ll never forget. It’s days like that as a supporter you remember forever.” 

Jon lifting the National League play-off trophy after being promoted to the Football League for Harrogate Town.

Once his loan spell at Bradford had finished, Jon returned to Town. Whilst he was disappointed it hadn’t gone as well as he would have hoped in his second spell at the Terriers he still took away some good times. One of those was scoring the winner against Leeds at the John Smith’s Stadium. 

“While my second spell at Town was disappointing I had come back and had some special moments. Scoring the winner against Leeds was brilliant and you can see how much it means to me on my face in the photos. 

“I knew I couldn’t play at Championship level forever and Notts County had just been relegated to League Two so I joined them.”  

Jon played over 170 games for Notts over a four-year spell. He then joined National League side Harrogate Town. The Sulphurites were promoted to the EFL for the first time in their history in the 2019/20 season. Jon also played in the FA Trophy Final where the club beat Concord Rangers 1-0.  

On his time at Harrogate Jon said: “I’ve loved my time at Harrogate, got to two Wembley finals and won them both. It’s been a real pleasure to be part of such a family run club. I can’t thank the club enough. 

“I signed a two year deal pretty much knowing it’d be my last two years in football. To end it with two Wembley wins, helping promote the club to the EFL for the first time in its history and to sign off playing my 700th game I couldn’t be happier.”

Jon sat in the stands at Wembley with a cardboard cut-out of friend and former Town player Jordan Sinnott who died in 2020

Away from the field Jon is a trustee of the Jordan Sinnott Foundation Trust, a charity named after the former Huddersfield Town academy player.  Jordan died in January 2020 after being attacked in Retford.

More than 800 football clubs donated a shirt with Jordan’s name and number 25 on the back. Money raised from that went to Sport Relief. 

On the charity, Jon said: “It was a terrible time when we lost Jordan. All our friends and his family were completely devastated. It was a crazy time because it was the start of lockdown and we didn’t know what was happening with football and then we sadly lost Jordan. 

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“We did the shirt collection and now we’ve created a charity in his name of which I am a trustee of. We have Zoom meetings every month to say what we are doing fundraising wise. We are helping lots of people and so there are lots of positives to take from it.”

If you want to check out the charity page please click HERE

Now retired as a player Jon wants to stay in football. He wants to become a coach and maybe progress on to become a manager in the future.

“I definitely want to go into coaching and I’d like to have a long career in it,” he said. “I am working towards my A licence which I’ll be doing in September. However, for now I’m quite happy to take some time out before attacking a coaching career.”