Lena Headey, left, who stars in TV hit Game of Thrones; actor Patrick Stewart, of Star Trek fame. *AFP photo
Lena Headey, left, who stars in TV hit Game of Thrones; actor Patrick Stewart, of Star Trek fame. *AFP photo

Before last week, most Bermudians had probably never heard of Huddersfield.

But the old mill town, which nestles between two rivers in the rolling countryside of West Yorkshire, is now the footballing HQ of our most exciting sporting export, Nahki Wells.

And now that many of us are rooting for Hudderfield’s football team, we thought it fitting to write about the town and its claims to fame.

Huddersfield was the birthplace of a British Prime Minister and ‘home’ to Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise (aka Patrick Stewart). It has also produced an impressive array of first-class cricketers.  

The town’s economic backbone was the textile industry. And although far fewer people now work in the factories thanks to technological advances, woollen products remain a mainstay for the surviving firms.

The townspeople are reputed to be honest, hardworking northern folk who love their football — and their rugby league.

“Huddersfield is a typical Yorkshire town, so the first thing a visitor from Bermuda would pick up on would be a certain bluntness of manner and a dry wit,” says Andrew Robinson, a reporter for the
Yorkshire Post newspaper and Huddersfield Town fan.

He adds: “Huddersfield is a town with a proud sporting history, producing some top-class cricketers, footballers and, of course, rugby players, being the birthplace of rugby league.

“The football club has seen a lot of highs and lows over the years but recent seasons have seen a true resurgence of the club under the astute stewardship of chairman Dean Hoyle.”

Harold Wilson, who was the British Prime Minister for nearly 10 years in two separate stints, originally hails from Huddersfield. Another former Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, also spent his childhood in the town.

Hollywood actor Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame was born in Mirfield, just outside the town.

Rod Smallwood, the manager of chart-topping rock band Iron Maiden, comes from Huddersfield and is the subject of the band’s B-side song ‘Sheriff of Huddersfield’.

But it’s not just rock ‘n’ roll, sports and politics — Huddersfield boasts extraordinary architecture and is home to the third highest number of listed buildings in the whole of the UK.

“The town boasts a fabulous Victorian frontage for its railway station and in its square is a statue of former Prime Minister Harold Wilson, which is pointing down towards his beloved former football ground, 10 minutes walk away,” says journalist Robert Gledhill, who has worked at the Yorkshire Post for 25 years.

Huddersfield FC, a Championship club, is widely renowned for consistently punching well above its weight. 

Mr Gledhill, assistant sports editor, explains: “Town, who left their old Leeds Road ground in 1994 to move across the road and river to what is now known as the John Smith’s Stadium, are now under the stewardship of lifelong fan Dean Hoyle.

“He sold for £360m his Card Factory greetings card chain of stores a few years back to concentrate on running the club. 

“The club now boasts some of the best training and academy facilities in the country, including those of Premier League clubs, a mile away from the ground on Leeds Road.”

Mr Gledhill told the Bermuda Sun: “Huddersfield is a multi-cultural town of around 140,000 including around nine per cent of Asian origin and around 3.6 per cent either black or black British.

“Huddersfield Choral Society is world famous and the town has a rich brass band tradition. Huddersfield has also produced more first-class cricketers than any other town in England.”

Charity is also ubiquitous in the town, we were told. Martin Shaw, who has covered Huddersfield Town as a freelance reporter since 1995 and is now assistant news editor of the Huddersfield Daily Examiner said: “Huddersfield people are generous to a fault and the amount of charity events in the town is staggering.

“Our newspaper could be full of sponsored bike rides, runs, walks or hops every day of the week.

“People are proud of their town and loyal to their heroes.” 

If a warm embrace by fans was one of the things Nahki Wells was looking for, it sounds as if he picked the right town.