1,000 Not Out: What Became of Town's Previous Landmark Players?

Lee Morris

Lee Morris

6 min read

On July 1st 2021, Josh Ruffels signed for Town on a free transfer after spending eight years at Oxford United. On September 28th, 2021, he became the 1,000th player to pull on the blue and white stripes of Huddersfield Town, coming on as an 87th minute substitute in a 3-2 win over Blackburn Rovers.


But what became of the other landmark players?


Number 100: William Martin (1911-1912 / 5 appearances)

In December 1911, William Martin became Town’s 100th player, making his debut in a game against Burnley. Martin arrived at the club earlier in the year from Ilford as left-back cover for the injured Fred Bullock. He played just five games for Dick Pudan’s side before being released at the end of the 1911-12 season. He won a gold medal in the 1912 London Olympics and later served in the First World Wars with the Westminster Dragoons.


Number 200: Ernie Whittam (1929-1933 / 20 appearances)

It would be another 18 years before the 200th player emerged. Ernie Whittam made his debut against Grimsby Town in September 1929. Whittam signed from the local leagues of Huddersfield in 1926 and went on to spend seven years at Leeds Road, but only made a handful of appearances during that time. He eventually left for Chester in 1933 and rounded off his career with spells at Mansfield Town, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Bournemouth, Reading and Mossley. He was still living in Huddersfield when he passed away after suffering from cancer in 1951, aged just 40.


Number 300: Frank Reid (1946-1949 / 7 appearances)

17 years down the line, Frank Reid became the club’s 300th player. Reid, an inside-left, signed from Cumnock Juniors in August 1946. He played his first game for Town in December 1946 away at Sheffield United. In three years at the club, he played just seven games for sides managed by David Steele and latterly George Stephenson. He departed in 1949 to sign for Stockport County, left league football in 1951, and had a spell at Mossley. Reid passed away in 1970 at the age of 50.


Number 400: Billy Legg (1963-1972 / 60 appearances)

Another hundred people played first team games before Billy Legg became Town’s 400th player in January 1965, when he made his debut against Doncaster Rovers in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. He was just 16 years of age at the time, becoming one of the club’s youngest ever players in the process. Legg had signed for Town back in 1963 as a junior and played a number of games in the first team but sadly, despite being tipped for a promising career, he was involved in a car accident in 1969. He remained at the club until 1972 before signing for Bradford Park Avenue. Since retiring from the game, Legg has remained in football and has coached for many years, including at Blackburn Rovers, where he is currently Walking Football Coach.


Number 500: Keith Ripley (1978-1979 / 6 appearances)

Fast forward 13 years to August 1978 and Tom Johnston handed Keith Ripley (a recent acquisition from non-league Gainsborough Trinity) his debut against Preston North End in the League Cup. Ripley became Town’s 500th player but only played a handful of games before being let go by Mick Buxton in August, moving to Billy Bremner’s Doncaster Rovers. Following a short spell at Belle Vue, Ripley headed back into non-league football. He has been an independent financial advisor for many years and is currently based in Pontefract.


Number 600: David Campbell (1990-1992 / 4 appearances)

By 1990, Irishman Eoin Hand had been in charge for two years and had signed a number of Irish players, one of whom was Dave Campbell from Bohemians. He became Town’s 600th player when he made his debut in September 1990 against Swansea City. Campbell picked up an injury on his debut and didn’t play again for 18 months. Three more appearances came before he left the club at the end of 1991-92 to return to his homeland and play for Shamrock Rovers. Spells in the League of Ireland for various clubs followed before he retired in 2003 after a short spell at Bray Wanderers. Campbell is still active in football, serving as opposition analyst and head of recruitment at Sligo Rovers and is also Court Secretary at The Labour Court in Dublin.


Number 700: Des Hamilton (1999 / 10 appearances) 

Later in the same decade and just nine years later, Des Hamilton joined the club on loan from Newcastle United in February 1999 and made his debut shortly afterwards against Watford. After an unspectacular time at the McAlpine, Hamilton returned to St. James Park at the end of the 1998-99 season. Loan spells at Tranmere Rovers and Norwich City followed before permanent stretches at Grimsby Town, Cardiff City and Barnet. Hamilton then went into local football, where he played for Campion for a number of years. He remained in non-league football, becoming assistant manager at Eccleshill United in 2017 and has worked as a health mentor for schools in the Bradford area.


Number 800: Rob Page (2008 / 20 appearances)

In 2008, Rob Page became the 800th player to play for Huddersfield Town. He signed for Andy Ritchie’s side towards the end of the 2007-08 season and impressed the Town faithful with his performances at centre-half, vastly improving the back line. He was out of contract in the summer and Stan Ternent made it a priority to retain his services. However, he’d already agreed to join Chesterfield, so after playing just 20 times at the Galpharm, Page left the club. He played for Chesterfield until 2011 before he joined the coaching staff at Port Vale. He eventually became manager in 2014 and remained so until 2016. He had a brief spell as manager of Northampton Town in 2016 but was sacked for comments during an after-match press conference where he’d been particularly scathing about his team’s performance. He became the manager of the Welsh under-21 side in 2017 and since 2020 has been the caretaker manager of the Welsh national side, taking charge during their Euro 2020 campaign and subsequent games.


Number 900: Joe Wilkinson (2015-2016 / 1 appearances)

Just seven years later, Chris Powell gave 19-year-old Joe Wilkinson his debut in April 2015 against Blackburn Rovers in the final home game of the season. He played in the unfamiliar position of right-back. This turned out to be Wilkinson’s only game for the club and he left in 2016 after loan spells at Hyde United and Bradford Park Avenue. Wilkinson is still playing locally, having had spells at Liversedge, Buxton, Ossett Albion and Brighouse Town. He’s now plying his trade at Tadcaster Albion.


Number 1000 and Beyond

Just six years later, in September 2021, Josh Ruffels made his debut for Huddersfield Town, becoming the 1,000th player to play for the club and making history in the process.


Bizarrely, out of all the landmark players, only Billy Legg played more than 20 games for Town, with six of the players playing in less than ten games. Hopefully Josh Ruffels can prove to be the exception and go on to have a long and fruitful career at Huddersfield Town—here’s to the next 1000!

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