As someone born in the 21st century, it seems alien to me that Huddersfield Town were ever referred to as anything other than The Terriers. It seems a distinct part of the club’s culture and heritage—well at least to me, as I’ve grown up alongside the nickname, the crest, and various terrier mascots. The nickname certainly seems to have become more apparent in recent years, with the club and the fanbase supposedly exhibiting a ‘terrier spirit’. But where did this nickname come from, and what’s it got to do with Huddersfield?
The connection to Huddersfield lies with the ‘father’ of the Yorkshire terrier breed, Huddersfield Ben. Although not the first Yorkshire terrier to exist, Huddersfield Ben is commonly referred to as the foundation sire of the breed and was born, funnily enough, in Huddersfield in 1865. But it wasn’t until the 1969/1970 season that Huddersfield Town bore the nickname. Prior to this, most fans referred to the club as The Town, and the club had a plethora of mascots, including a goat, a replica of Aladdin’s lamp, and a stuffed donkey.
After Bill Brook became the promotion officer, he decided the club could do with a much-needed rebrand and settled on the trusty Yorkshire terrier as the ideal mascot and moniker. At the time, Town were chasing promotion and presumably wanting to solidify a strong club identity to keep the momentum going. And so, in the 1969/1970 season, the team wore blue and white striped shirts with the famous red terrier badge and the The Terriers nickname was born.
As part of Brook’s rebranding efforts, the club also adopted their first terrier mascot, which was an actual Yorkshire terrier called Skippy who lived in Honley. This would set off a long line of terrier mascots at the club, the most recent of whom are known as Tilly and Terry (unfortunately no longer actual dogs).
The nickname and mascot were initially announced in the home programme for the game against Bolton Wanderers on 27th September, 1969. The announcement included a photo of Skippy and a message from Frank Drabble, the chairman at the time, saying he had received lots of letters from younger supporters asking why other clubs had mascots but Huddersfield didn’t.
His response? “I had never thought of the matter, but if it was their wish to have a mascot, we would do something about it”.
Interestingly, many loyal fans at the time were against the identity change, preferring to simply keep the tradition of referring to the club as The Town. Nevertheless, the nickname stuck and since then the club has leaned into the terrier nickname, particularly through David Wagner’s managerial years, where the terrier identity was referenced constantly throughout promotion and the Premier League seasons.