From The Vault: Lower League Clubs Special

Huddersfield Town story posted by Andy Dixon on 06/11/2002
Unfortunately after Huddersfield Town's relegation to division two a couple of seasons ago, they may be classed by many as being a lower league club. This is due to Mick Wadsworth's men rubbing shoulders with less glamorous teams like Plymouth Argyle, Northampton Town, and Blackpool week in and week out. However, football at this level is not all bad, long-ball sides like Brentford do exist, but there are also decent footballing teams like Crewe and "From the Vault" shows that even in 1966 there was reasonably good sides in old divisions three and four.From The Vault: Lower League Clubs Special

The following articles were taken from the Huddersfield Town vs Coventry City programme, which was published on Saturday, 19th November 1966. They show attitudes and opinions which many people that think lower league football is sub-standard should read with an open-mind, as lower league football must be given a chance if sides like Town are to survive.


Managing a club in a soccer outpost can be a trying, exacting task. Says Torquay boss Frank O'Farrell: "If I even want to watch a player it's usually a two-day job".

The day I spoke to him the former Preston and West Ham star had just come back from looking at a likely prospect in London.

"To cut the time spent down to 24 hours I had to come back on an overnight sleeper", he grimaced.

Travelling time is a vital factor in the life of football people at Torquay. The main stream of the game is many scores of miles away.

Travelling to away matches can be long and tiring. Only the beauty of Torbay compensates for these problems.

"When I do go for players", Frank told me, "almost without exception they jump at the chance of coming to live in this magnificent spot. That's one real advantage that takes the sting out of travelling".

But it doesn't help the manager keep in touch.

The basic liner of communication is the telephone. "Most of my fellow managers tell me they don't know what they'd do without it", says Mr. O'Farrell. "I know what would happen to us down here. We'd be forgotten.".

Frank has two or three men upon whose judgement he can rely to advise him of players whom he should watch. "But for their help I don't suppose I'd ever be able to build a dossier without staying away from home half the week".

When United play away matches the Torquay boss often stays on "just to get out and meet people in the game to keep in touch with events". That's the problems facing the men in our soccer outposts.


How do you blend a team on the fringe of the Third Division promotion race?

"Hard work", says O'Farrell. "I have two or three very good players and some good players. Like everybody else I have my problems but we aim for team output to cover these up.

"Come to think of it, are my problems in this direction very different from most football managers elsewhere? The aim always is the maximum production from the players you have at your disposal.



While we would be adopting a dog-in-manger attitude if we did not accede that changes in organisation within The League are inevitable we believe the future cannot be envisaged without both the mighty and the lowly.

Whether the lower divisions be regionalised, or whether some other remedy be prescribed to combat the problem of spiralling costs, the fact remains that the game needs football at all levels within The League as well as outside The League.

Individual clubs may have to succumb to economics and geography, but other will arise to take their place as they have always done.

League Football in England is a national sport and will embrace a national league of clubs at varying levels. Of that we remain certain.


The mention in a recent edition of 'Football League Review' that clubs are to be asked fro views on the future framework of The Football League leads one to reflect on the changes in format that have taken place post-war.

The creation of the Fourth Division was certainly a splendid move, giving as it did a far more competitive League for the former stragglers of the Third North and Third South Divisions. Similarly the "Four-up-Four-down" has spread the promotion and relegation excitement to wider selection of teams.

Yet perhaps the most significant change of all was the introduction of four more teams to The League. Shrewsbury, Scunthorpe, Gillingham and Colchester have all more than held their own, as have Peterborough and Oxford who came in for Gateshead and Accrington.

Surely, therefore, the next move should be a Division Five manned by teams such as Yeovil, Wigan, Bedford and Worcester. Many of these non-league clubs have excellent grounds, good support and show themselves to be a match for League teams on the few occasions they meet them.

Soccer fever might well grow in areas that are now relatively lukewarm, and the game as a whole would benefit.

(From Town vs Leyton Orient, 29th January 1966)

Playing in the shadow of successful Stoke City are the other Potteries club, Port Vale from Burslem.

Tucked away down in the Fourth Division, with a magnificent ground at Vale Park, the club under manager Jackie Mudie are now in the process of re-shaping their destiny.

At the start of the season that famous son of the Potteries, Sir Stanley Matthews, joined Vale as general manager and since then they have been combing the country for young talent.

As both Jackie and Sir Stanley point out: magic wand recoveries are not possible in football.

(Also from Town vs Leyton Orient, 29th January 1966)

In Soccer Background (number 19) you say the Welsh Senior Cup has been won by the following English clubs: Chester, Crewe, Shrewsbury, Bristol City, South Liverpool and Oswestry.

You might also like to note that it has been won on no less than three occasions by Wellington Town F.C. who last won the competition in 1939 (and held the Cup until 1946).

* Obviously the lower leagues can be dismissed by many 'high flyers' such as Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal as no-hopers that will only dream of the lives that they live day in and day out. Nevertheless, we are talking about people's lives and without the lower leagues many football supporters would be lost for things to do on a Saturday afternoon. Emotions such as happiness and despair are not restricted by league boundaries but pride can be relative to league position, so let's all hope Town can soon rejoin division one, and maybe progress onwards and upwards to the elite of the Premiership.

Just think what tonight could have been like if Town had beaten Burnley and progressed through to round three of the Worthington Cup. We could have all embraced the experience of watching a top-notch Premier League side as they would have played host to Tottenham Hotspur and an array of talented international footballers. Comparisons would have been made to the Chelsea cup game a few years ago, but this is fictitious thinking as Town's next opponents are fellow lower league side Wycombe Wanderers.


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