The Self-Isolation Chronicles: Huddersfield Giants

1. James Gavet married into a hugely successful sporting family.

Huddersfield’s James Gavet arrived at the club with a fearsome reputation, emulated by the fact he is the reason Hull FC’s ‘Tongan Terminator’ Manu Ma’u (one of the scariest men in the sport) has metal plates in his face. Clearly, Gavet, a Samoan international forward, has pure willpower to go the full distance in the sport. Well, so does his wife and her hugely respected sporting relatives. His wife Gabriella Adams-Gavet is a former New Zealand under-20 representative in basketball, playing for Newcastle Hunters while Gavet was with Newcastle Knights. Basketball is hugely ingrained in the Adams family, which includes 18 siblings. Her two elder brothers, Warren and Ralph, have played for New Zealand (beautifully named ‘The Tall Blacks’) and another sibling, Sid, has appeared in the New Zealand National League. But the most successful basketballer in her family certainly comes in the form of NBA Star Steven Adams, who currently plays for Oklahoma City Thunder and stands at a ceiling-shattering 6 foot 11 inches. Their half-sister, Valerie Adams, is also a dual Olympic gold medallist for New Zealand in shot put, while their other sister, Lisa Williams, is also an aspiring Paralympic shot-putter and discus thrower as she has Cerebral Palsy. Family dinners must be like what Sports Personality of the Year looks like in New Zealand…

2. In 1984, they became the ‘Huddersfield Barracudas’ and played at ‘Arena 84.’

George Orwell made a plethora of predictions for what the year 1984 would look like (quite a lot like the current Corona apocalypse), but even he would have been a fool to foretell the year that Huddersfield had. In 1984, they adopted the Barracudas name and changed the name of their Fartown ground to Arena 84. Orwellian futurism as its finest and certainly ahead of their times, you could argue, because it wasn’t long before unusual monikers became commonplace in Super League. But the sad end to this story is that, sadly, local businessman John Bailey had attempted to modernise the club to a younger audience. It didn’t work. By 1989, they were back to Huddersfield and playing at Fartown and on the brink of financial collapse. What followed, was a merger with Sheffield. Few would have predicted that either.

3. In 1993, they planned a European Championship with Batley and teams from Russia.

The 1990s were a strange time for Rugby League and even for Third Division Huddersfield, it was no different. In 1993, they planned to stage a European Club Championship in France. They invited five teams, the coveted company of: Batley Bulldogs, AS Carcassone, XII Catalan, Tiraspol and Moscow Magicians. But in a seemingly easy route to the final for Huddersfield, the Russian sides withdrew because of financial constraints. Closely followed by Batley and Carcassone, who had just five players available due to a players’ strike. That meant automatic qualification for the ‘final’ for Huddersfield and Catalan in the Alex Angel Trophy, as it was named. Huddersfield won 23-22 at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, with Brad Davies’ late drop-goal clinching a game in which the lead changed three times.

4. They didn’t have an Australian international for half a century.

Huddersfield had just regained promotion to Super League in 2003 and a high-profile signing was needed after consolidation the year after. Step forward Michael De Vere, the Brisbane Broncos stalwart and goal-kicking back. In capturing his signature, Huddersfield had landed their first former Australian international for over 50 years, with the last example being the acquisition of Pet Devery in 1947. De Vere had been capped by Australia only the year previous, making the signing all the more impressive. He stayed for two seasons, helping them to the 2006 Challenge Cup final, before hanging up his boots. He eventually came out of retirement for one final appearance for the Broncos in 2009.

5. A picture of a bum got Keith Mason sacked.

Keith Mason has had a career that has spanned from Melbourne Storm, Peaky Blinders to Rugby League comic books. Boring would be the least applicable word you could find. But the prop appeared to get a bum deal (sorry) when he was sacked by Huddersfield in 2012, after six years’ service, for uploading a picture of a teammate’s backside. The rear end in question was that of Scott Moore during Mad Monday (when else), as Mason’s then-partner Lauren Harwood had uploaded it to social media. The former St Helens forward was then sacked by the club for gross misconduct, being alleged for not deleting it quickly enough, before he took it to court and received £167,000 for unlawful dismissal. How they all kept straight faces in the docks is a story in itself.